Apple is looking to tap into social networking sites as an e-commerce channel after striking a deal to distribute music with Bebo.

From today, Apple’s iTunes service will be embedded into the Bebo website – allowing its users to buy music from artists that have a Bebo profile and whose music is available via iTunes.

The deal – Apple’s first with a social networking site – gives the manufacturer access to a huge base of music listeners.

Bebo says it has 8.8m users in the UK and Ireland, and claims to have 500,000 musicians registered with its Bebo Bands service.

According to the FT, the deal will initially cover the two countries, but could be extended elsewhere if it proves a success.

The move follows the recent launch of Facebook’s widget platform, offering retailers an opportunity to generate sales.