MusicNet has inked a deal to power the new digital music service from retailer HMV.

MusicNet has inked a deal to power the new digital music service from retailer HMV.

Under terms of the agreement, MusicNet is providing all content for the offering, which is set to bow in the second half of 2005. It is also supplying back-end technology, software, support and content for the service. MusicNet claims a catalog of 1.3 million tracks.

HMV announced in December that it was working with Microsoft to build a customized jukebox application, based on the Windows Media Player.

MusicNet's content and technology, which supports Microsoft's WMA digital rights management, will be integrated into the branded player.

The service will initially be offered only in the United Kingdom. Because it is based on Microsoft technology, it is not expected be compatible with Apple Computer's iPod portable music player.

"HMV customers will gain access to a massive library of content. Our aim at launch is to offer as wide and an eclectic range of content as is available anywhere online," says Stuart Rowe, HMV Europe e-Commerce director, in a statement.

HMV says it expects to spend £10 million ($19 million) building the service and marketing its launch.

For MusicNet, which powers download and subscription business for AOL, FYE and Cdigix, the deal marks its second major U.K. partner and represents a larger international push by the company. MusicNet inked a deal to supply content to Virgin's digital music service in both the U.S. and U.K. last year.

"We've seen pretty rapid growth in Europe in the last year," says Mark Mooradian, senior director of strategic planning for MusicNet. "We're going to continue to expand in the U.K. with the same kind of best-of-breed partnerships we've been pursuing in the U.S."