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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Digital sweetener for music fans
Elvis Presley
Elvis is among 6,000 artists with songs on the sites
Music fans are being offered "the biggest ever official give-away of digital music" in a campaign to tempt them away from unofficial download sites.

A range of websites will offer free access to 110,000 songs by stars from Kylie Minogue to Elvis Presley for one week.

Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel's company has organised the campaign
Visitors will be given 5 worth of free tracks, which will buy 500 streamed songs, 50 downloads or five tunes to copy, or "burn", onto a CD.

The campaign was kicked off by Digital Download Day, on Thursday, and will last until Wenesday.

It has been organised by digital music company OD2, which was set up by singer Peter Gabriel.

Fans will have access to songs from three of the five major record labels, with tracks by Gareth Gates, Westlife, Coldplay and Dido also available.

The campaign comes as legitimate music sites struggle to convince fans to pay for songs when they can still download them for free from popular unofficial sites like Morpheus and Kazaa.


Most people don't know that legal sites even exist

Charles Grimsdale
OD2
Charles Grimsdale, chief executive of OD2, denied that Digital Download Day was a sign that the legitimate sites were losing the battle.

The campaign aims to raise the profile of official sites and show fans that they provide a more professional and reliable service, he said.

"Frankly, most people don't know that legal sites even exist," he told BBC News Online.

"We've made a lot of progress. We genuinely think it's good value, and that we can offer a much higher quality service than a pirate site."

If users return after sampling the free trial, they will be asked to pay 4.99 per month for about 50 downloads.


Paying for music has to be a better option than stealing it

Andrew Yeates
British Phonographic Industry
The push has been welcomed by the UK music industry.

Andrew Yeates, director general of the British Phonographic Industry, the trade body, said fighting online piracy was a "key part" of the music business's strategy.

"Put simply, paying for music has to be a better option than stealing it. Any initiative that helps create that atmosphere is to be welcome," he said.

Effective action

Global music sales slumped by 5% in 2001.

The United States music industry recently launched a huge advertising campaign, fronted by pop star Britney Spears, to warn fans of going to illegal sites.

Mr Grimsdale said record companies had been slow to respond to the threat of royalty-free downloads - but that they were now taking effective action.

"We are pretty optimistic that, although they are moving slowly, they are moving, and there's now significant momentum," he said.

See also:

03 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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27 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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