Wippit, the U.K.-based legitimate digital-music service, is planning to expand into new territories, including the United States, Germany, Spain and Sweden, Billboard.biz has learned.

Wippit, the U.K.-based legitimate digital-music service, is planning to expand into new territories, including the United States, Germany, Spain and Sweden, Billboard.biz has learned.

The news comes as Wippit CEO Paul Myers today (April 2) unveiled an upgraded edition of the original subscription-based service. The new version offers an á la carte pay-per-track download option, alongside new entertainment software products and a mobile-phone payment system.

The latter function will enable customers to pay via their mobile-phone bills, in a strategy to entice young customers who don't own credit cards.

For this mobile-phone billing service, the company struck agreements with U.K.-based mobile operators including Vodafone, Orange and MM02. Myers is in talks with operators in the United States, Germany, Spain and Sweden ahead of the planned expansion.

The upgrade follows recent European licensing agreements with EMI and BMG. The two major labels' endorsements have grown Wippit's catalog to 150,000 tracks from 60,000. Wippit also licenses music from more than 200 independent labels.

As a result, Wippit's annual subscription fee is increasing to £49.99 (U.S.$91.50) from £30.00 ($55.00). "We increased the subscription rates to reflect the growing quality of the service after EMI and BMG came on board, and we shall increase them again when we sign up the other majors," Myers explains. Á la carte prices range from 49 cents to a premium rate of $1.59 per track.

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