iTunes Europe to Continue Apple, AOL Alliance

The European rollout of Apple’s popular iTunes music store, announced Tuesday, will include elements of a music marketing relationship Apple set up with AOL last fall.

Through a joint registration and distribution deal with the Time Warner unit, Apple has arranged instant iTunes store access for AOL Europe customers via their existing screen names and passwords.

The alliance allows the integration of download links within AOL’s interface; these lead to the iTunes store where the music can be bought.

AOL’s alliance with iTunes in the European market continues a partnership that began in the U.S. in October 2003. That deal similarly enabled AOL’s 25 million U.S. subscribers to register for iTunes downloads with a single click.

“As we roll out the iTunes Music Store in the U.K., France and Germany, we are also pleased to be expanding our relationship with AOL,” said Rob Schoeben, Apple’s VP of applications marketing. “By joining forces, we are making it easy for AOL Members to preview and buy music from the iTunes Music Store as a natural extension of their AOL Music experience.”

Additionally, exclusive recordings from AOL’s Sessions@AOL and Broadband Rocks music offerings will be made publicly available through the iTunes stores in Europe. This arrangement has been a lucrative one for AOL in the U.S. Exclusive Eric Clapton tracks from Sessions@AOL, for example, recently made iTunes’ top 100 list of best selling tracks in the U.S.

In the coming weeks, AOL U.K., France and Germany will conduct sweepstakes offering members the chance to win iPods and free iTunes downloads.

AOL said there will be subtle variations in the integration of iTunes with each of its European offerings, which differ from one another in look and feel.

While the new iTunes music store is initially limited to three countries, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told an assembled crowd in London that a pan-European store will launch by October, Macworld U.K. reported.

“With a huge catalog of over 700,000 songs, breakthrough prices of just €0.99 and £0.79 per song and seamless integration with Apple’s wildly popular iPod, we think this is the digital music store that Europe has been waiting for,” said Jobs.

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