Apple has launched its iTunes service in the UK, Germany and France, but several major UK artists will not be included after failing to agree terms.
Users will be able to download music at 79p per track, as well as pick from a selection of music videos, with French and German consumers paying €0.99.
But iTunes users across Europe will not be able to download tracks by popular bands like The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and So Solid Crew after talks with the Association of Independent Music (AIM) broke down.
"We welcome the arrival of iTunes in the UK but are disappointed that our members have been unable to agree terms for licensing their repertoire to the services," said AIM chairman Alison Wenham, in a statement.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs claimed at the iTunes launch in London that the company was signing up more independent labels "day by day", and had secured deals with the big five music companies: Sony, EMI, Warner, BMG and Universal.
"Some people believe you can sell music from just a website, but music websites suck," said Jobs.
"iTunes only competes with piracy. This is the big market for downloads. In the legitimate market we own 70 per cent of all sales."
The iTunes site has a library of 700,000 songs, 5,000 audio books and soundtracks from all Disney and Pixar films. A pan-European iTunes site for the rest of the continent is scheduled to open in November.
Apple has chosen a different route from that of Napster, whose subscription-based model terminates access to the music once the subscription elapses.
Once songs are purchased on iTunes they can be burned onto CD. Downloaded files can be played on up to five different computers or an unlimited number of iPods.
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