US online music service eMusic has team up with mobile operator AT&T to sell music from independent labels through mobile phones, without the need for a computer.

EMusic , the second biggest US music download store after Apple's iTunesStore , today launched the first over-the-air service focusing on music from independent labels, ranging from Paul McCartney's latest album to obscure pop and punk acts. Similar services from Sprint and Verizon focus on songs by mainstream performers, according to a report in today's New York Times .

The eMusic deal with AT&T Mobile Music will make songs from independent labels available just as easily as the more conventional ones. Some 2.7 million tracks will be available on the service, which will work on several handsets by Samsung and Nokia .

"We know that we have a lot of customers in the segment that eMusic is trying to reach," Mark Collins, vice president of consumer data services for AT&T's wireless unit, told the NYT.

More expensive than online

Tracks will cost more than they do online - $7.49 (£3.69) for five songs, compared to $9.99 (£4.92) for 30 at eMusic's online site. The added cost is due to the expense of sending tracks over a mobile network to your phone. Included in the price is an additional copy of the song, which you can download from the internet in an MP3 format.

Analysts seem to welcome the service. "For eight bucks a month, you can get exposed to music you can't hear elsewhere, so you might be more likely to experiment," said Mike McGuire, a vice president of research at analyst firm Gartner . "It could be an interesting way to discover music," he told the New York Times.

AT&T is, of course, the operator for the Apple iPhone but apparently the eMusic service won't work on Apple's handset. The Apple iPhone is compatible with iTunes but the device does not let users buy songs straight to the phone over the air; signing on to a computer is required, much to the annoyance of critics.