A reluctant European music industry is delaying the launch of Apple's iTunes and Roxio's Napster music stores.

A Reuters report captures short interviews with executives at Europe's influential Midem conference in France. "Old-fashioned red-tape" and Europe's legacy of localized music business set-ups, along with the absence of vital pan-European agreements among royalty-collecting agencies there are posing problems.

Operators such as Apple also face "a maze of licensing contracts, music release dates that differ by country and incompatible billing systems," the report states.

Because Europe's music business operates territorially, with each country label holding rights to different artists and running at different business schedules, fans of a band in one country may have to wait weeks to buy music that's already available.

Apple's vice president of applications and Internet services Eddy Cue said: "One of the things we are working with the European labels on is to get them to understand how the business works in the online space, and having them change some of their business practices.

"We will be here this year. I'm not going to announce the date at this time, but we are working very hard." Cue told music industry executives that the "layers of bureacracy in the European music industry were limiting the number of songs it could offer consumers here".

Europe's music industry and its approach to technology seems to be shooting itself in the foot by virtue of its resistance to change. Recent figures show that as broadband adoption increases across the territory use of peer to peer file sharing services here is also increasing.

Consumers are turning to illegal file-sharing networks because Europe's music business hasn't yet been able to furnish them with popular alternatives, with what's available wrapped inside Microsoft's proprietary media standard, Windows Media.

As Macworld UK exclusively reported, music business insiders still hope to see Apple and Roxio's services appear (in some form) in Europe in the second – though perhaps third – quarter this year.