The Association of Independent Music (AIM) has launched Rightsrouter, a music administration company that hopes to provide a one-stop licensing service for music services in Europe.

Rightsrouter could emerge as the holy grail for European operators attempting to launch music services amidst the region’s Byzantine network of rights agreements.

Recent reports have confirmed Apple and Napster to be frustrated in launching services here, though industry insiders still expect services in some form will launch in Q2/Q3.

They are reportedly hampered by a "nightmare of red-tape". This is because no pan-European agreement between record labels, music publishers and the disparate rights and royalty collection agencies exists here at present.

Roxio CEO Chris Gorog today told AP that his company believes streamlining Europe's rights agreements systems is "essential".

Rightsrouter "plans to serve both the Association of Independent Music (AIM) and IMPALA record labels, which it says account for 25 per cent of the UK and 22 per cent of the European music market respectively," reports NetImperative.

Company CEO Gavin Robertson said: "The current rights infrastructure has created a bottleneck that Rightsrouter will resolve."

The report reveals that Rightsrouter has been working with OD2 and Napster in the US, and will be "formally announcing" similar deals soon.

OD2's CEO Charles Grimsdale describes Europe as a complex market. His company has had to work out different payment methods across Europe because so many different debit and credit cards exist. Technical processing requirements for each card are often different.

"Europe is a massively complicated landscape just in ensuring people can pay for their music," he said.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) says there may be a "resolution within months" to Europe's complex legacy of one hundred years of rights-agreement set-ups.

An IFPI report released last week carries comment from IFPI chair and CEO Jay Berman: "We believe the music industry's Internet strategy is now turning the corner, and that in 2004 there will be, for the first time, a substantial migration of consumers from unauthorized free services to the legitimate alternatives that our industry is providing internationally."

In related news: It's understood that AIM was instrumental in arranging to bring music from NinjaTune's catalogue to Apple's iTunes Music Store.