The IFPI today unveiled what it heralds as a "major step forward" in pan-European music licensing.

The international recording industry trade body says that, along with an undisclosed number of European collecting societies representing labels, it has forged a framework agreement which is intended to facilitate collective licensing for Internet-delivered music broadcasts.

The breakthrough means participating collecting societies will be able to license repertoire in each others' territories for certain Internet and mobile streaming services, including podcasts. Broadcasters and online music services will also continue to be able to approach record companies directly for a license for such uses.

Until now, obtaining cross-border online rights licenses for these services was a problematic activity, which required dealing with each territory separately or approaching the right holders directly.

Through the development, online music services and broadcasters established within the 30-nation European Economic Area can approach any European society which they deem appropriate for a license.

"The record industry's mantra is to license, license, license," comments Frances Moore, IFPI's regional director for Europe, in a statement. "We want consumers to be able to listen to our music anywhere, any time through any device, as long as it is legal."

These two new arrangements follow groundbreaking reciprocal agreements for the licensing of music streaming, respectively dubbed Simulcasting (2001) and Webcasting Agreements (2004).

Moore adds, "These landmark agreements will further streamline the licensing process and help broadcasters and online music services deliver music across boundaries. We only hope that other music right holders will follow suit."

The IFPI said it anticipated more than 40 key collecting societies worldwide would sign up to the two agreements.