Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to license repertoire to the Napster U.K. online music service. Sony is the first of the five majors to announce a content deal for the service, which is expected t

Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to license repertoire to the Napster U.K. online music service. Sony is the first of the five majors to announce a content deal for the service, which is expected to launch in the U.K. over the coming weeks.

According to Sony Music International president Rick Dobbis, Sony will provide a "wide range of tracks from both established and emerging artists" to the service. Exclusive tracks from rising British bands the Zutons and Hope of the States will be offered at its debut. A Sony spokesman declined to discuss the number of tracks available under the deal.

"There's no doubt that Napster is an important outlet for our roster of established superstars, and we also see the service as a great way to introduce fans to emerging artists," comments Dobbis.

Sony's pact with Roxio's U.K. version of Napster is the latest move in a remarkably busy period of content licensing in Britain. In separate announcements yesterday, Sony disclosed a content pact with London-based legitimate digital music service Wippit, while Napster made public its worldwide distribution agreement with British independent labels body AIM.

Sony Music Entertainment's N.Y.-based CTO Philip R. Wiser adds: "This announcement is a key element in our ongoing campaign to build greater momentum in the European digital music market, and we look forward to working closely with Napster as we help to introduce the service in this key region."

The Sony spokesman says the company is "discussing exciting opportunities in the online and wireless space arena...[there's] more to come."

Details of Napster's U.K. launch will be unveiled May 20 at a party in London.