Warner Music International is unleashing Rhino worldwide.

The well-recognized U.S.-based reissues and compilations specialist will initially be rolled out in 15 markets, coalescing all Warner's international catalog operations -- including Warner Strategic Marketing -- under the Rhino banner.

As a result of the initiative, unveiled today (Jan. 31), WMI will make much of the label's catalog roster digitally available outside the U.S. for the first time.

At the core of the Rhino rollout is a series of online and mobile projects, with which WMI intends to grab the proverbial long tail.

London-based WMI vice chairman, music, marketing and content John Reid says Rhino's time was ripe because of "the digital opportunity" it represented. "Rhino has been building its brand nicely over the last two years in the U.S. We held off until now because we wanted a platform to launch it on. We feel that the digital platform is the opportunity right now," Reid tells Billboard.biz.

"The worldwide launch of Rhino as Warner Music's official catalog label will allow us to unify our global efforts in new and interesting ways under a single banner as we transition from a CD business to a diverse multi-platform music-based entertainment company," comments Rhino's L.A.-based president Scott Pascucci, who joined parent Warner Music Group in 2002 to take on the company's sprawling catalog division.

The first countries to launch Rhino will be the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, Finland, Benelux, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.

Each market's Rhino chief will report to the local Warner Music managing director or local CEO.

One of the key features of the global campaign will be the launch of Rhino's first-ever dedicated wireless service in Japan, which will sell music products on a bespoke mobile site aimed at the 30-plus demographic.

The international launch will also see the first-ever digital release of the Gallo Music catalog from South Africa, as part of a digital World Music campaign across WMI's entire repertoire. It follows a joint-venture deal struck in mid-2006 with South African publishing and entertainment company Johncom and its subsidiary Gallo to create Warner Music Gallo Africa.

Established as an independent company 30 years ago in the back of a Santa Monica, CA., record store, Rhino has accumulated a catalog of more than 5,000 CDs, videos, and digital exclusive albums. That catalog features material by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, the Doors, Chicago, Black Sabbath, John Coltrane, Yes, Alice Cooper, Linda Ronstadt, the Ramones, the Monkees, Carly Simon and Curtis Mayfield. Rhino has been part of WMG since 1998.