Launch Europe, Yahoo!'s online music-service, has completed a framework deal with London-based independent labels trade assn. AIM.

Launch Europe, Yahoo!'s online music-service, has completed a framework deal with London-based independent labels trade assn. AIM.

The agreement paves the way for its Launchcast Web radio stations in the United Kingdom and United States to feature music from a raft of British indies. AIM's members include Beggars Group, V2, and Ministry of Sound. Launch has existing content agreement with Warner Music International, Sony Music Entertainment Europe and EMI Group.

The AIM deal was completed yesterday (May 4), coinciding with the expansion of Launchcast's pre-programmed online radio stations in the United Kingdom to 26 from 14.

Additionally, listeners in the United Kingdom are for the first time able to customize the stations and create personalized versions using Yahoo! proprietary software.

According to Shannon Ferguson, Launch Europe's director, these improved offerings--available via Yahoo! U.K. & Ireland and BT Yahoo! Broadband Web sites--can help artists and labels boost CD sales and raise awareness for new releases.

"We are focusing on building repertoire in general and getting as many new releases as possible. Our services provide new primary ways of discovering music," Ferguson tells Billboard.biz.

Although she declines to comment on when Launchcast will roll out to other European markets, Ferguson predicts its popularity in the United States will be repeated in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, Launchcast streams more than 19 million hours of music each month to up to 2.7 million unique users of Launch, she says. In the United Kingdom, the service will reach Launch's 900,000 unique users.

Separately, Ferguson says Yahoo! is planning to expand its Launch on-demand music video service in Europe. She suggests two more localized editions will bow in Europe before the end of the year, complementing existing services in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.