Warner Music International is extending its reach into the Italian live scene and a broad range of artist services through a new venture forged jointly with one of the market's top live music figures.

The music major's Italian affiliate is creating a new enterprise with Ferdinando Salzano, who currently serves as managing director of Live Nation-affiliated agency Friends and Partners in Milan.

Salzano's start date has yet to be announced, although the new venture is expected to start for business in the early summer.

Salzano's agency, which he established in 2001, has organized the Wind Music Awards and the Italian Music Awards show, and has overseen top tours. He also brings to the table proven skills in TV production and brand partnership, and will be expected to further develop these areas, in addition to events and touring, and multimedia activities.

Warner Music International president Patrick Vien describes the deal as a "slam dunk" for the company, and one which represents "a very material move forward in terms of our progression."

Speaking to Billlboard.biz, Vien said, "I would call it an ambitiously expansive move for us and one which allows us to leap-frog a lot of what would be otherwise organic efforts to get us into those businesses we want to be in, in partnership with our artists. Which is to have, through partnerships with other entrepreneurs, the ability to be a broad service provider."

The range of services on offer would be open to Warner Music artists, and those signed to other labels, Vien insists.

"Definitely we want to create an environment where Ferdinando's business can remain absolutely competitive. That's crucial to the credibility of those services that we want to offer to our artists, as well as artists outside the group."

The development, notes WMI, is the latest in a succession of efforts to expand and diversify the services it can deliver for its artists.

The music giant last year created Warner Music France 360o, overseeing licensing, merchandising, and a range of services, and more recently acquired tour production, promotion and booking company Jean-Claude Camus Productions.

And, in time, more partnerships will be struck. "There's not doubt that an important part of our strategy at WMI is looking market by market at how we can expand our range of services for artists," Vien adds. "We're vigorously looking at opening up our doors and introducing our business to new business units through intelligent partnerships like we have done so far."