Europe's independent labels have ended their content-licensing holdout with Apple Computer's iTunes Music Stores. A raft of licensing pacts have been struck, paving the way for tens of thousands of in

Europe's independent labels have ended their content-licensing holdout with Apple Computer's iTunes Music Stores. A raft of licensing pacts have been struck, paving the way for tens of thousands of indie titles being made available through iTunes in Europe.

Sources told Billboard.biz last week that a licensing breakthrough was imminent.

The first indies to license repertoire to the download service include influential London-based labels Beggars Group, Sanctuary Records Group and V2. As a result of the agreements, announced today, European iTunes users now have access to titles from the White Stripes, Prodigy, Morrissey, the Pixies, Stereophonics and others.

"Many indie artists have had the opportunity to express themselves in a way that's different than what the majors would want," says Eddie Cue, Apple's VP of applications. "Adding different labels, titles and genres opens up that whole market."

The pacts represent a sweeping advance in relations between the independents and Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Computer. Until now, Apple's European download services have carried little content from the independent sector since launching June 15 in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

The independents initially balked at the terms offered by the computer giant.

In a statement, Britain's Assn. of Independent Music (AIM) suggests that Apple subsequently adjusted its terms to suit both parties. "Labels had been unwilling to participate because terms initially offered appeared to discriminate against independents," explains AIM. "Terms have now been offered by iTunes that address the independents' concerns fully."

AIM says its members are comfortable that the agreed framework deal represents terms "on a par with those agreed by the majors."

Label executives close to the negotiations declined to comment further due to confidentiality clauses in their respective contracts.

Dozens of independents are expected to sign up in the coming weeks.