Digital distr. links with Italy's Tabloid Group.

San Francisco, CA-based digital music distributor the Digital Rights Agency has struck an Italian representation deal with Tuscany-based independent record company the Tabloid Group.

The partnership with DRA will see Tabloid court other Italian indies to sign non-exclusive international digital distribution deals with the U.S. company either directly or through Web site

DRA distributes independent record label catalogs internationally to digital outlets on a non-exclusive basis. It currently supplies services including OD2, Napster, Rhapsody and iTunes, plus several ringtone providers.

The 120,000-track DRA catalog features repertoire from labels such as Liquid 8, Kill Rock Stars, Orbison Records and Stony Plain Records. Artists range from veteran rock'n'roller Jerry Lee Lewis to U.S. alternative rock act Death Cab for Cutie, now signed to Atlantic Records.

The Tabloid Group is based in Lucca, Tuscany, and primarily releases dance music plus some alternative rock material.

Tabloid managing director Roberto Nardiello says he sees the Italian-American market in particular as potentially lucrative for Italian labels with either catalog or contemporary repertoire.

Labels signing up can impose their own territorial and outlet restrictions, Nardiello notes. "We see our mission as helping Italian indies," he says, "who are often handicapped by the language barrier, in promoting their work digitally and internationally."

Nardiello notes that Tabloid is DRA's first business partner outside the United States. "I was the first Italian indie to sign up with iTunes," he claims, "and I was so impressed with the results that I realised how big the digital distribution market's potential was."

In a statement, DRA managing director Tuhin Roy says: "We are excited to work with the Tabloid Group to make key Italian catalogs available through digital music services worldwide. This is an important step towards bringing indie catalogs into the online world."