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Starbucks links with Apple for music downloads

Starbucks has teamed up with Apple to offer free music in a new “Song a Day” promotion. The coffee giant will give away 1.5 million songs every day for a total of more than 50 million free songs, as a major promotion to push its iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store in Starbucks locations.

From October 2 to November 7 customers at more than 10,000 Starbucks locations may receive “Song of the Day” cards redeemable on the iTunes Store at www.itunes.com for a complimentary song picked by Starbucks Entertainment including songs by such artists as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, KT Tunstall and John Mayer

In conjunction with the promotion, on October 2, the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, which will feature Starbucks exclusive “Now Playing” service, goes live in more than 600 Starbucks locations in New York and Seattle. This exclusive partnership with Apple lets customers use the T-Mobile HotSpot Wi-Fi Network at participating Starbucks to wirelessly download music onto their wireless device from the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store with no Wi-Fi connection fees or HotSpot login required.

“Getting free access to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store and the æNow Playing’ service at Starbucks is a great way for customers to discover new music,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO in a statement. “Imagine walking into a participating Starbucks, hearing a great song, and being able to instantly download it onto your iPod or iPhone. We think this is very cool.”

For the “Song of the Day” promotion Starbucks customers nationwide can download that day’s complimentary song. Each day will feature a different song, but customers will have until the end of the calendar year to redeem the song on the US iTunes Store.

The “Now Playing” iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks will continue its national rollout to 350 Starbucks stores in the San Francisco Bay area in early November, 500 stores in Los Angeles in early February 2008, 300 stores in Chicago in March 2008 and additional markets throughout the United States later in 2008.

The iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks will run on the T-Mobile HotSpot Wi-Fi network which is currently available at participating Starbucks locations across the United States

In addition, starting October 2, Starbucks company-operated locations in the United States will offer iTunes Digital Release Cards for sale, including KT Tunstall’s “Drastic Fantastic” with music tracks and videos, a digital booklet and a behind-the-scenes documentary video, and music from the film.

Each iTunes Digital Release Card contains a full album’s worth of music and artwork . After the card is activated upon purchase at Starbucks, customers can download the album and bonus material on the iTunes Store for Mac or PC.

Starbucks will also offer the Starbucks Card Plus Two, a limited edition re-loadable Starbucks card with added bonus value. When a Starbucks Card Plus Two is registered online the cardholder will receive two complimentary song downloads of their choice on the US iTunes Store.

This partnership between the coffee retailer and the music retailer comes as competitor Amazon.com Inc is taking on Apple’s iTunes with the debut of its public beta of Amazon MP3, a new digital music download store with a catalog of MP3 music downloads free of digital rights management (DRM). Amazon MP3 has more than 2 million songs from more than 180,000 artists represented by about 20,000 major and independent labels including EMI and Universal.

The Warner Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which is owned by Sony and Bertelsmann, have not agreed to sell music on Amazon MP3.

Earlier this year Apple CEO Steve Jobs stressed the importance of record labels adopting the DRM-free MP3 format, claiming that consumers wanted the flexibility of transferring content across multiple devices. The major record companies have been slow to adopt the DRM-free format, concerned about piracy.

Every song on Amazon MP3 is encoded at 256 kilobits per second. Customers can purchase downloads using Amazon 1-Click shopping and then add the MP3s to their iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries via the Amazon MP3 Downloader.

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