A £650,000 ($1.2 million) support program has been launched to assist London-based music businesses in tapping digital opportunities.

The funding will provide information, training and recruitment for small music companies and is intended to help artists, venues, publishers, managers, labels and others in the industry.

The London Development Agency (LDA) has provided the funding for the 18-month program, which launches April 2008 and will be managed by independent music companies' trade body AIM.

There will be free and subsidized advice as well as access to research and information and business support, with a particular focus on under-represented groups in the music industry including companies led by women, black and minority ethnic people and people with disabilities.

AIM GM Remi Harris developed the plan in conjunction with board member Rosie Bryant, and with advice from the indie trade body's new media committee. It follows AIM's work supporting the independent label sector on new media and digital issues, including the Music Connected networking events and the AIM Digital service, which negotiates digital deals on behalf of the collective members.

"It was clear from our research that there is huge untapped potential in the exploitation of digital technologies for London's small music companies," says Remi Harris in a statement. "I hope that this service is able to have a wide reach into all aspects of the music industry in London, and at all levels of expertise."