London-based online music retailer 7Digital will open to US customers in July. The company, which powers white-label music downloads for the likes of Sun Online, ITV.com and Last.fm as well as its own 7Digital.com store, is currently concluding negotiations with American rightsholder organisations and expects to begin offering licensed tracks in US dollars from next month. The effort will start with major-label repertoire.
At the London Calling conference today, CEO Ben Drury told me the time was right to make a British Invasion-style entrance to the US because labels were now more willing to offer songs free of DRM: “Outside of iTunes, we’re certainly in the top three (services) in terms of money going to the labels, and we get huge amounts of traffic from the US – but we’re unable to convert them (in to sales).”
Once dollar retail and US licenses are set up, a neat side-effect of the switch, which will require adding geo-IP detection to 7digital.com, is it will now be able to monetise American traffic from retail partners like Last.fm, which uses 7Digital, iTunes Store and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) for its download sales. Drury said 7Digital had seen a big sales spike following the recent introduction of Last.fm’s free streaming service – but not anything like the 119 percent hike Last.fm says it has given to Amazon.