By James Wells

MELBOURNE: JB Hi-Fi today announced a deal with a company that specialises in physical and digital music distribution which also has agreements with the world’s largest distributor of independent music.

Publicly listed digital media, entertainment and advertising company, Swish Group, today announced its subsidiary, Swish AmpHead has entered into a CD distribution agreement with Narta member, JB Hi-Fi.

According to a statement issued to the Australian Securities Exchange this afternoon, the agreement with JB Hi-Fi is the first distribution deal by Swish AmpHead for the distribution of its CD music catalogue which was recently extended to include US-based The Orchard – the world’s largest distributor of independent music.

According to Swish Group managing director, Cary Stynes, the deal will see the CDs distributed through the 77 JB Hi-Fi stores in Australia and four stores in New Zealand.

“Swish AmpHead is signing on approximately 20 new Australian bands a week and under this agreement, we will be able to distribute CDs to JB Hi-Fi as well as distributing new tracks through our existing online digital channels,” Stynes said in the statement.

According to Stynes, the company will also look to distribute CDs from the top end of The Orchard catalogue which includes music resources from over 77 countries, incorporating a catalogue of more than one million music titles from 20,000 artists and 6,000 labels.

“The physical music deal with JB Hi-Fi complements the existing Swish AmpHead successful online music distribution business which has been experiencing significant quarter on quarter growth from its clients including iTunes, Telstra BigPond, Vodafone, Ericsson and most other major online music sites,” the statement said.

Stynes claims digital music is the high growth sector of the Australian market with digital downloads now accounting for 10 per cent of the total music market.

Stynes also said downloads of individual tracks rose 61 per cent in the first half of 2007, according to the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and downloads of entire albums jumped 150 per cent to more than 380,000 over the same period. Global sales of digital music are estimated to reach $US3 billion this year.