Napster Launches UK Promotion With The Sun

UK-based newspaper The Sun has teamed up with Napster UK for a series of promotions, including one to allow Sun readers to download a free track from the online music store.

Free downloads from the 750,000 songs on Napster will be offered to The Sun’s 10 million readers eight separate times beginning July 24, through a promotional code found in the Saturday edition of the mass-market daily.

The partnership began on Thursday with a £50,000 music-related prize giveaway in the paper, with prizes to include a trip to Napster’s Los Angeles headquarters for a live, private recording session with a major artist, over 200 free subscriptions to Napster’s online music service, MP3 players, broadband services and software from Napster parent Roxio .

“This is a significant partnership for Napster,” said Brad Duea, Napster’s president. “The Sun has tremendous brand identity and reach throughout the UK and has proven itself time and again as a major influencer of public opinion. We’re the first in our industry to join forces with a daily national paper.”

According to figures from The Sun, it has more than 10 million daily readers of its print version and 4.5 million unique monthly visitors to its Web site, making this the biggest free music download promotion ever run in the UK.

“We are always looking to innovate and deliver value, and with the recent rise in legitimate online music services we felt the time is right to offer readers — especially younger ones — a market-leading and exciting free music download promotion,” said Sean Mahon, head of marketing strategy, News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun. “Instead of us providing a free CD with pre-selected tracks, we are offering readers the opportunity to create their own compilation by downloading free tracks throughout the summer.”

Both sides hope the other’s brand will rub off on them, with Napster benefiting from the association with a major influencer of public opinion, and The Sun reinforcing its own brand image of irreverence, fun and youthfulness, which are similar values to The Sun brand itself, Mahon said.

“From a marketing point of view this promotion not only ticks many of the right brand boxes but will also deliver sales contribution as both offline and online Sun consumers will be buying the newspaper on a regular basis to take advantage of the promotion,” he said.

Since Roxio took over and relaunched the music service in October 2003, it has engaged several different offline methods to get its message out and gain subscribers. In June, Napster hooked up with retail giant Best Buy to promote Napster as its leading digital music service through in-store marketing as well as broadcast, print and online advertising. Napster struck a deal with Citigroup in May to offer free download credits to college students, and one with Energizer to offer free download codes with its batteries.

Other online music services have similarly engaged in offline cross-promotion. Real Networks has co-promotion deals with Comcast and other broadband providers for its Rhapsody streaming music service. In February, Apple teamed with Pepsi North America to give away 100 million free songs from Apple’s iTunes Music Store, launching with a Super Bowl ad. Apple also is working on a similar cross-promotion with McDonalds.

The music is a nice perk for consumers and to the brands that are paying the bills, but the added exposure could be most beneficial for the music services, which are in a land rush to grab mindshare as digital music providers. Those 100 million iTunes will be in Apple’s proprietary format, while Real Networks will benefit from a multi-million dollar television and Internet ad campaign.

The Sun is owned by News International, the UK subsidiary of media giant News Corp. News International also publishes The Times, Sunday Times and News of the World. News Corp. also controls Fox Television, HarperCollins and the New York Post.

Napster launched in the UK on May 20, offering access to downloadable music and a range of community features for a £9.95 monthly subscription. Alongside the monthly service, Napster Light offers an a la carte download store with songs available for as little as £1.09 per song or £9.95 per album.

In June, Apple launched its iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany, offering downloads from its 700,000-song catalog for #0.79 in the UK. Apple promoted its product through a marketing relationship Apple set up with AOL.

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