Coke to Give Away iTunes Tracks in Europe

Coca-Cola plans to give away 70 million iTunes songs in the United Kingdom as part of a promotion and will launch a new music website in Europe that is integrated with Apple Computer’s iTunes music store, the companies said on Wednesday.

Consumers who buy promotional packs of Coke and Diet Coke in the United Kingdom will get a special code that can be redeemed for a free song from iTunes. The promotion starts in mid-August and will run for six weeks. There’s a limit of five songs redeemed per person.

Coke also plans a promotion in Germany: Every hour, for eight weeks, it will give away an iPod and 50 songs from iTunes. Other promotions are lined up to start in other European countries in the coming months.

In addition to the giveaways, Coke will launch a new music website next week. The site will be offered to users in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It will be integrated with the iTunes store and will focus on offering exposure to new bands.

Coke recently closed another music download site in Europe, although the Irish site appears still to be supporting music sales. The U.K. site now points to a frequently asked questions page that says the store closed on July 31.

Before the iTunes music store opened its first European site in June 2004, music fans in some countries had limited options for buying digital music. Some music services available in the United States, such as Musicmatch and Rhapsody, are not available to European users, although eMusic, the number-two music store after iTunes, is available across Europe. Other stores such as Napster and the Coke store are available only in selected countries.

Apple said it has sold 150 million songs in Europe in the past year and 200 million songs in Europe in total.

Despite its popularity in Europe, the iTunes store is coming under fire from some governments. France recently passed a law that could require Apple to share its digital rights management technology with companies that want to build music players that can play songs purchased from the iTunes store. Norway, Sweden and Denmark have complained to Apple for requiring iTunes customers to exclusively use iPods to play songs bought in the store.

Apple had a promotional arrangement that was similar to the Coke song giveaway in the United Kingdom, but with Coke’s rival, PepsiCo. The agreement started in late 2003 when Pepsi-Cola North America said it planned to give away 100 million iTunes songs to customers.

-Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service (Dublin Bureau)

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