Apple Europe is moving to establish the iTunes Music Service across Europe, claims UK music-industry bible, Music Week.

Apple Europe vice president Pascal Cagni told Music Week that discussions are "set to begin in earnest", following the Store's US launch.

"As head of Europe, I have only one interest, which is to launch it in Europe," he said.

Music Week reports that Apple may launch the service initially in those European territories with higher Internet penetration, such as the UK.

The report confirms that Apple had not initiated discussions to launch the service in other territories in advance of the US launch. "We do have existing relationships, but we have not until now been having these conversations," Cagni said.

Cagni warns that European music companies' digital-rights management structures could form a hurdle to rolling out the service. "We need the record companies to have their digital-rights management systems sorted out in Europe," he said.

However, EMI head of new media Fergal Gara said: "We are technology-agnostic in our approach," he told Macworld.

EMI made 140,000 tracks available in the week before Apple's announcement through online retail partners using Windows-only technology developed by OD2.

Gara said: "I can't see why the labels' DRM technology should be a stumbling block unless some of the labels are working to a technological agenda. I'm not clear on the priority, but I can't see anything that would stop us making music available for Apple's service in Europe."

World-famous musician and renowned Mac user Peter Gabriel helped finance OD2. OD2 currently offers music through online partners, such as blueyonder, BT Openworld and HMV. The company uses Windows Media to facilitate this service, and does not support Macs.

An OD2 spokesman told Macworld: "We have no immediate plans in place to develop the service for Mac." He pointed to Apple's five per cent market share as reason for that decision.

OD2 will also be instrumental in providing data for the BPI's forthcoming online music-distribution sales chart, scheduled to launch later this year.

In an additional report on Apple's new service for Mac users - which will be extended to Windows by the end of the year - Music Week calls Apple and EMI's move to harness the Internet for legal digital-music distribution: "Evidence of record companies' new-found willingness to bring their goods to market and consumer's inclination to come and buy them."

The report confirms that BMG and Universal Music also intend making hundreds of thousands of their tracks available for online distribution.

Praising the ease-of-use of the new music service, Music Week says: "Apple has set a new standard among the official distribution channels in the ease-of-use stakes."