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“Marketing Challenge”

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British firm recognizes the struggle for what it its:

    In a fight to win back fans from the “gray zone” of online song-swapping
    services, the music industry is borrowing a trick from its nemeses: free
    music downloads.

    For one week beginning Thursday, music fans in Europe will be able to
    download, stream or burn onto their hard drives a selection of tracks from
    6,000 artists including Coldplay, Dido and Elvis Presley.

    It is part of a marketing ploy called “Digital Download Day” devised by
    British firm OD2, a technology company specializing in digital music
    distribution and co-founded by recording artist Peter Gabriel.
    Backed by record labels and music retailers, a host of subscription
    download services have been hatched over the past year to tap into the
    consumer craze of downloading music.

    But the pay-for services are still no match for free download services such
    as Kazaa and Morpheus MusicCity, which claim tens of millions of users. The
    major labels blame the availability of free music downloads for a drop in
    CD sales.

    The free download, or peer-to-peer, services brand themselves as

    “file-sharing” Web sites and do not actively condone downloading
    copyrighted files such as music or video files.

    But the music industry brands the services as pirates and has launched a
    number of high-profile lawsuits against them, recently claiming the scalp
    of now-defunct peer-to-peer pioneer Napster.

    “We’re now facing a marketing challenge,” said Ed Averdieck, marketing
    director for OD2. “We need to show the public that instead of downloading
    from…one of the file-swapping services, you can download from the legal

Word, Ed.

    The program will be open only to European Web users. Consumers who register
    on one of the six participating sites will get $7.90-worth of digital music
    to sample or burn.

    The Digital Download Day initiative is a change in strategy for the
    industry. Averdieck, for one, believes taking a tough-talking approach is
    not nearly as effective as giving consumers the option to try services for

    “Paying for music has to be a better option…any initiative that helps
    create that atmosphere is to be welcomed,” said Andrew Yeates, director
    general of the British Phonographic Industry trade group, in a statement.

Pay heed RIAA.

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About Eric Olsen