Sony and McDonald’s pair up for a new music download campaign:
- Hungry for a taste of the online music business, Sony Corp. is aiming to line up McDonald’s Corp. to market the Japanese conglomerate’s new download service, according to people familiar with the deal.
The two companies have been hammering out the details of a pact in which McDonald’s would provide fast-food diners with free songs from Sony’s online music store, Sony Connect, these people said. The deal is expected to be announced this week.
….The sources said McDonald’s was expected to commit about $30 million to advertise the program in the U.S. and beef up the launch of Sony Connect, which will charge 99 cents per song when it starts up this spring.
In exchange, sources said, McDonald’s will be able to buy some tunes from Sony Connect at unspecified discounts. The fast-food giant plans to give customers free songs when they buy certain menu items; customers will receive codes they can redeem online for downloads.
The pact would underscore a central strategy of would-be players in the online music world: find major advertisers with the marketing clout to sell alternatives to the illegal downloading of music on unauthorized file-sharing networks such as Kazaa and LimeWire.
Sony has already announced a deal with UAL Corp.’s United Airlines in which travelers, once the Connect service starts, will be able to trade in frequent flier miles for free songs.
….The McDonald’s deal comes as Sony is racing to build a presence on the online landscape and drive sales of its own line of portable music devices. Sony, which introduced music lovers to portability with the Walkman, has lagged behind such rivals as Apple, which dominates the field with its iTunes service and has seized market share with the iPod music player.
Now, Sony not only has to catch up to Apple, but it also has to confront other online players, including Microsoft Corp., which is developing its own Internet music store.
For McDonald’s, the aim is to build a hipper image among young consumers.
McDonald’s, which has hired pop singer Justin Timberlake to appear in its commercials, has been laying large bets on the marketing power of music. [LA Times]
If one scanned down the list of the heaviest advertisers, one might be able to predict whom the music download services are currently courting.