EMI will let users download tracks on a permanent basis from artists such as Kylie Minogue, Duran Duran and Coldplay. Fans will also be able to download singles from yet-to-be-released albums, but only once they have debuted on radio.
The US partners are: Ecast, FullAudio, Liquid Audio, Listen.com's Rhapsody, MusicNet, pressplay, Roxio, Streamwaves and Alliance Entertainment. Many provide download services for sites such as Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, MTV.com and MP3.com.
The activity comes amid industry-wide concern about the increase of illegal music downloads among users, who then make their own music albums using CD-writing drives widely available on the high street.
EMI's decision to open up its catalogue to online distribution firms in the US follows moves by record companies to offer similar services in the UK.
Earlier this month, Peter Gabriel's UK digital distribution firm, On Demand Distribution (OD2), added Universal Music International to the roster of music labels using its service.
Record companies including BMG and Warner already use OD2 to distribute paid-for music downloads to UK partners including HMV.co.uk, MSN.co.uk and Freeserve.com.