has announced plans to launch in all 25 EU countries in a bid to become Europe’s number two music downloading site behind iTunes.

The second most popular US online music store plans to go up against Apple in markets such as Germany, Italy and France by offering local language access to MP3 tracks.

The company will charge monthly subscription fees of £8.99 for 40 downloads, £11.99 for 65 downloads and £14.99 a month for 90, while iTunes users pay 79p a track.

eMusic has an inventory of 1.7 million songs from 8,500 independent record labels, and generally appeals to an older audience than iTunes. Its content can also be played on all music players, including the iPod. However, it is yet to gain agreements from the four major music companies – Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music – to distribute their content.

David Pakman, eMusic’s president and CEO, and an ex-Apple employee, said: “The monopoly of iTunes in Europe is over. European consumers, fed up with homogeneous music and services focused only on mainstream pop can now discover a wealth of music created to transcend rules, boundaries and commercialism.

The move follows a series of big moves in the online music space as competitors look to cut Apple’s lead.

Microsoft says its Zune player and subscription-based downloading service is due to be launched in November, while Myspace has recently announced a music downloading service focusing on undiscovered bands and independent music labels.

According to The Sunday Times, Napster plans to launch an offer this week where users will received a free MP3 player along with subscriptions. Samsung is also building a music store for MP3 players and phones, while Apple is expected to launch a new iPod device later today.

With it holding a hugely dominant position in the music downloading sector, including 60% of the US market, all this competition can only be good for consumers.