Australia's independent label community is hoping to expand its presence in the global market through a pair of deals unveiled today (May 24).

Australia's independent label community is hoping to expand its presence in the global market through a pair of deals unveiled today (May 24).

Australian trade body the Assn. of Independent Record Labels has negotiated two separate deals on behalf of its membership.

The first, with British digital rights management specialist Rightsrouter, will allow AIR members to make their recordings available online and mobile services globally. Based in Glasgow, Rightsrouter is an independent company that offer a one-stop center for labels seeking to license their catalogs to digital-music services.

From this week, Aussie indie labels and artists can negotiate through Brisbane-based AIR, using Rightsrouter as their data, technology and licensing infrastructure to manage deals with online music services.

AIR CEO Stuart Watters comments, "We want to ensure that Australian indies are at the forefront of the global music market, and are able to take advantage of the new possibilities it presents to extend the value of their copyrights."

The Rightsrouter deal will pave the way for AIR members' content to be licensed to iTunes Music Stores in the United States and European territories.

The deal pre-empts the introduction of iTunes in Australia, which is tipped go live here by June 1. Apple Computer Australia has made no comment. Meanwhile, AIR executives have said that the computer giant is only negotiating with major Australian labels and three of the country's largest indie labels: Festival Mushroom Records, Shock Records and MGM Distribution. iTunes simultaneously launched in the United Kingdom, France and German last June with little available indie content.

Separately, AIR has struck a pact with the Australian Government's export body Austrade. Through the agreement, Austrade will fund the first stand for Australian indie music at this year's Popkomm trade festival, September 14-16 in Berlin. Says Watters, "When Australian music businesses travel so far to connect with the big global music markets, it very important that they have the infrastructure to make the biggest impact possible."

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