Napster is to begin the battle for Europe's digital music distribution industry in the UK, the company announced today.

The move confirms previous assessments which indicate the UK market will become the battlefield for dominance of the global music market.

Napster has chosen to "target the UK" as its first European market. A new localized version of Napster 2.0 is set to launch in the UK "before the end of summer", the company said today.

The service will be: "Complete with UK-specific genres, promotions, and content from domestic acts, and this will be the first time Napster has been made available outside of North America." The company will offer access to it service using a UK domain,

The new UK operation will be managed by Leanne Sharman, who adds the role of Napster UK general manager to her existing title of vice president of business development. Sharman is assembling and leading the UK team responsible for establishing Napster 2.0 in the UK.

Her duties: "Include defining the Napster brand for the UK market and tailoring Napster 2.0 in terms of programming content, advertising, marketing, PR, and partnerships," the company said.

"We're very excited about bringing the biggest brand in on-line music to the UK and making London our European headquarters," said Napster chairman and CEO Chris Gorog. "The UK is the largest consumer of music outside of the US and Japan and in January digital downloads outsold physical singles in the UK; clearly establishing demand for world-class on-line music services."

Sharman confirmed the importance of the UK market: "The UK has a reputation throughout the world for the variety and quality of its music," she said.