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Digital Download Day

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UK fans respond to free downloads with feverish frenzy:

    British and Irish music fans scrambled for a piece of the action on Thursday as some of the music business’s heavyweights opened up their archives for free downloads in a bid to combat Internet piracy — and boost sales.

    But “Digital Download Day” — part counter-strike, part marketing ploy — proved almost too successful as the host Internet site slowed to a near-standstill under the sheer weight of surfers trying to claim their five pound download “voucher.”

    Devised by OD2, a technology company specializing in music distribution and co-founded by recording artist Peter Gabriel, the “Day” is in fact a week-long venture offering access to 100,000 tracks from 6,000 artists including ColdPlay, Dido and Elvis Presley.

    “It’s really caught the public imagination, people are coming to us in droves” OD2 sales and marketing director Ed Averdieck told Reuters. “People just didn’t realize there are legal sites out there, it seems.”

    But success has its price. Groaning under the weight of 15,000 visits per hour, the DDD site plaintively asked punters in the UK and Ireland — all other surfers are barred — to come back later.

    The DigitalDownloadDay.com site is in fact a waystation to five portals offering the downloads: msn.co.uk, freeserve.co.uk, tiscali.co.uk, hmv.co.uk and ministryofsound.com.

    On these, music fans are being offered 500 free download “credits” — five pounds’ worth — for streaming, downloading or burning to CD with no strings attached….

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

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