A delegation of independent British music companies will embark on a fact-finding mission to the United States later this month in a move intended to help pave indies' access to the world's biggest ma

A delegation of independent British music companies will embark on a fact-finding mission to the United States later this month in a move intended to help pave indies' access to the world's biggest market, Billboard.biz has learned.

The inaugural initiative, led by British trade group the Assn. of Independent Music, will see 23 music companies visit New York from June 27 - July 1 to meet and network with leaders of the American industry. Representatives from the Leaf Label, Menace Music Management and dance club Fabric are among those attending.

Leading U.S. entertainment attorney Elliot Groffman -- a partner with Carroll, Guido & Groffman -- has been closely involved in co-ordinating the meetings.

U.K. Trade and Investment, an organization the British government established to foster international trade, will contribute about half the cost of each company's travel expense. The UKTI was also a key partner in the May 16 launch of AIM's office in China.

"It will be like a targeted Midem, where there's a very specific agenda," AIM chair/CEO Alison Wenham tells Billboard.biz. "Most of these companies have got some small experience of doing business in America, and they hope to build on that significantly by getting a much broader view of the U.S. market."

Research will be gathered during the trip, from which a report will later be published and distributed to AIM members. The trade body is expected to use the report to gauge the feasibility of launching a U.K. export office in the United States.

According to Wenham, AIM is planning a third fact-finding mission to China this October, followed by an inaugural educational trip to Australia in 2006.

Established in 1998, AIM represents about 900 British independent labels and distributors.