UK independent record labels continue to embrace digital music distribution, with the Association of Independent Music (AIM) this morning announcing a deal with iTunes competitor, Napster.

Napster has signed a global distribution deal with AIM under which 50,000 tracks from 50 of 800 member labels will be made available digitally through Napster when it launches in the UK this summer.

US Napster users will also gain access to the content in a licensing deal that will also be made available in continental Europe under the IMPALA (Independent Music Companies Association) umbrella.

The deal, negotiated by AIM's new media arm Musicindie and administered by Rightsrouter, includes repertoire from Ninja Tune, Domino, Cooking Vinyl, Gut, Skint, The Leaf Label, !K7 and Hospital. Artists featured include Kruder & Dorfmeister, Coldcut, Mr Scruff, Billy Bragg, Roots Manuva, Kid Koala, Cinematic Orchestra, A Man Called Adam and The Orb. Many other AIM members are expected to take advantage of the agreement over the coming months.

Napster president Brad Duea said: "The Association of Independent Music has shown great foresight in joining forces with Napster at this time and has underlined its reputation as an influential player on the international music scene."

"Napster is going to make a big difference to music fans in the UK," said AIM CEO Alsion Wenham. "It takes our music to fans around the world, confirming the promise that the Internet can deliver a global business to independent artists and record companies."

The UK independent sector generated 30 per cent of UK platinum selling albums in 2003. Independent UK artists include: Travis, Franz Ferdinand, So Solid Crew, Strokes, Royksopp, Underworld and many more.