Are music files the new plastic toy?

MP3 players

We’re getting the feeling that it may not be so long before we’re all collecting the tokens on the back of cereal packs to get free music downloads. Why giveaway Le Creuset pans and mugs with cockerels on them, when what the public wants is the latest Kylie MP3?

The signs are already there. McDonalds and Sony appear to be teaming up to offer hungry customers free music downloads with their meals (although, no one at McDs or Sony is saying anything just yet), while London newspaper,The Evening Standard , is offering readers free tracks via Wippit .

It’s quite a strange deal, though. Readers have to buy two copies of the paper to get two passwords and then get a web address from the Tuesday edition. Once they’ve gone to all that trouble, they finally get their 10 free tracks, chosen from a set list of just 50.

The Sun newspaper has a similar deal with Napster throughout the summer, while The Guardian got there first with its deal with EMI that allowed readers to download EMI artists appearing at Glastonbury. Unlike the Evening Standard, The Sun offer allows readers to pick from the full 750,000 track Napster playlist.

So how long will it be before you’re getting free tracks in every pack of Walkers crisps, or getting Napster points on your credit and loyalty cards? Surely it can’t be far away. But there’s no mention yet of who Apple might be pairing up with. The initial rumour was that Apple and McDonalds were doing a deal, but it sounds like Sony pipped Apple to the post (and who ever heard of getting free Apples in McDonalds… sorry that was a pretty rotten Apple joke… and so was that one).

A Pepsi ring pull giveaway with iTunes apparently didn’t go down as well as expected in the States, but maybe they’d have more luck if they tried it with Tetley teabags over here in the UK.

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