UK digital music outlets expand

Crunch gets new CEO, expands in US; set for UK launch

Digital music distribution in the UK got a boost this week, with two separate companies announcing ambitious expansion plans.

Crunch, the UK's foremost dance music download site, saw its business model vindicated with the announcement of the former managing director of AOL UK, David Phillips, joining as the company's new CEO. It also announced the opening of its first US office, to develop the 50 percent of its traffic that comes from overseas. "Dance music is a core UK strength," says Phillips, "We want to be able to reach those people in Illinois who see perhaps just two or three UK imports in their local record shop."

Crunch also plans to expand its e-commerce activity to provide product targeted at its niche audience, such as computer games and clothes., a Swedish digital music distribution site, has also decided that it is ready to extend its geographical reach. Unlike Crunch, which only sells tracks from licensed artists, Deo will also provide free downloads from unknown artists.

The company, launched in May last year, will launch a UK version of its site on 1 April, the first of a range of localised European sites.

Fredrik Sidfalk, DEO's CEO, admitted that it would be "a challenge" to distinguish the company among the plethora of other digital music sites but said that it would be aggressively seeking content deals with record labels to provide customers with a quality catalogue of independent music.

Both companies announced that they had signed deals with Diamond to bundle CDs with its upcoming Rio 500 player.

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