Bebo, the U.K.-based international social networking Web site, has joined forces with British online music retailer 7digital to enable artists to sell music directly to consumers.

The deal, which kicks off today (March 28), will enable Bebo's 31 million registered users in the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to pay for downloaded music via the Bebo Bands pages.

Using U.K. pound sterling, U.S. dollars or the euro currencies, Bebo users can pay for music offered by the 450,000 acts registered on Bebo Bands via 7digital's online music store indiestore.

Sales through indiestore are counted by the Official U.K. Charts Company and Nielsen SoundScan towards music-sales charts compiled in the relevant countries.

"One of the places where people find out about music, more than via traditional radio and other media, are networking sites. So we need to get legitimate downloads right in front of their users and they can just click to buy the songs, no messing around," Ben Drury, 7digital's managing director, tells Billboard.biz.

Any act signed to Bebo Band can register for two types of accounts: the Starter account, which allows an act to sell four tracks at a time; and the Pro account, which enables them to sell 20 tracks.

Once an act registers on indiestore via his or her Bebo pages, a Bebo widget (a proprietary digital player) listing the tracks on sale appears on the pages. Fans can listen to each track, and if they want to make a purchase, a click will take them to indiestore.

Each act keeps 70% of the proceeds from each track sold via the Starter account, and 80% per track for Pro account sales, with the remainder going to 7digital. Artists set the prices.

Consumers can pay via the PayPal payment mechanism or by SMS text messaging, with expenditure appearing on their phone bills or taken from their pay-as-you-go vouchers.

The artists featured on 7digtal's indiestore service, which focuses on independent and unsigned acts, will in turn be marketed to Bebo's global user based.

7digital's total catalog, which includes recordings by Universal Music, EMI Music, Warner Music, and Sony BMG, plus numerous independents, are licensed to other music Web sites.

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