Apple has reached a new deal bringing music from 200 independent labels to its DRM-free iTunes Plus service.

The news means 44,000 tracks from a range of artists will soon be added to the iTunes Plus catalogue. At root is a deal reached between Apple and independent distributor [PIAS] Digital, a division of [PIAS] Entertainment Group (formerly known as Vital Distribution).

Announcing the new deal, [PIAS] may have inadvertently let slip some of Apple's future moves to maintain momentum in iTunes. According to the distributor, the new global agreement will see [PIAS] offer added value digital services, including "Bundling incentives with Ticketmaster and the ability to buy ringtone versions of the repertoire sold via iTunes".

Adrian Pope, director of digital and business development at [PIAS] Entertainment Group said: "This new agreement with iTunes Plus is a real boost to our digital offering and means that we can now provide access to this high quality, DRM free service on behalf of the many repertoire owners we represent. 

"The many thousands of tracks that we are now offering on iTunes Plus will give users access to the best music from independent labels with no usage restrictions, which can only be a positive thing."

The company recently signed European distribution deals for The Futureheads and Operator Please.