London-based digital music provider 7digital is expanding its service into Asia-Pacific making its 16 million plus track catalogue available in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

The move from company, which is now serving 1 million users through mobile devices, comes hot on the heels of rival Spotify, which was formerly powered by 7digital, which launched into the continent in September.

The new markets already have access to the 7digital online store, while its applications for BlackBerry and Android will be available before the ends of the year. Those using the RIM PlayBook in the region will also be touched by 7digital as the company powers the device’s music download service.

7digital was part of the recent launch party for the PlayBook in Singapore, and it is tie-ups such as this partnership with RIM that will form “a key aspect of the development strategy in Asia”, according to the firm. Although it is not available on the iPhone, the rising popularity of Android and RIM’s regional market presence – which is particularly strong in Southeast Asia – give it a potential launchpad into other Asian markets.

Any move into mainstream Asia would bring with it a new set of unique challenges, which Spotify and other music companies – which might soon include Google – will soon find out. Not only are record labels fragmented across the region, but listener preferences range widely and online music piracy is a big concern.

7digital confirmed that is in discussions with Asia-based music labels and aggregators to expand its selection to include local music, while its existing catalogue of western and international tracks is likely to be well received in many parts of Asia.

As it stands, the company is focused on four markets with strong infrastructure but, perhaps with less developed markets – where credit and debit card ownership is low – in mind, 7digital is eyeing carrier billing payment systems for Asia. This would greatly simplify the process and allow users to buy music through their operator, although for now its in-store online transaction is the sole method available.

Asia-Pacific has been comparatively under-served by new digital music services compared to Europe and North America though the arrival of 7digital’s and Spotify suggests the space could develop. It will certainly be interesting to see how both services develop and when, and whether, they can move into more developing but potentially lucrative markets in Asia like India and Indonesia.