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EDITIONS
Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Fans 'swamp' download offer
Elvis Presley
Elvis is among 6,000 artists with songs on the sites
Fans have rushed to take part in a digital music offer in which music industry-backed websites are giving away free songs.

The sites taking part in Digital Download Day have been "swamped" by demand, organisers have said.


It's almost unprecedented that we've had this level of interest in legitimate services

Spokesman
Digital Download Day
The offer - in which fans get 5 worth of free songs - was devised to raise awareness that legitimate download sites provided an alternative to pirate music services.

"It is a complete poke in the eye for the illegitimate sites," a spokesman for the company co-ordinating the offer, OD2, said.

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

By 1630 BST, the Digital Download Day website was being visited by 15,000 people per hour.

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.

Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel's company has organised the campaign
The 5 worth of free tracks gives users 500 streamed songs, 50 downloads or five tunes to copy, or "burn", onto a CD.

"We have not seen a level of activity like this before, and that's really indicative of how much it's captured everybody's imagination," the OD2 spokesman said.

OD2 is a digital music company set up by singer Peter Gabriel.

The participating websites were coping with demand, the spokesman said.

"It's almost unprecedented that we've had this level of interest in legitimate services.

"As far as awareness for these services goes, it's mission accomplished."

The offer was kicked off on Thursday and will last until Wednesday.

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

Sales slump

The legitimate sites provide a more professional and reliable service than pirate services, OD2 says.

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

Widespread illegal downloading and CD-copying has been blamed on a global slump in music sales.

Andrew Yeates, the head of the UK music industry's trade body, the British Phonographic Industry, welcomed Digital Download Day.

"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.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Kylie MinogueDown stream
Is Digital Download Day a good idea?
See also:

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