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Starbucks Gives Away 50 Million Tracks For iTunes WiFi Launch

Starbucks is going to give away 50 million tracks as it helps launch the new iTunes wireless service with Apple. From Oct. 2 to Nov. 7 customers in all 10,000 U.S. StarbucksStarbucks outlets will be handed 1.5 million "Song of the Day" cards each day for redemption on iTunes.  The first song featured is Bob Dylan's "Joker Man."

Starbucks own Hear Music label artists Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell will among the 37 artists featured along with Dave Mathews, Joss Stone, John Mayer, Annie Lennox and Band of Horses.

Starbucks will also start selling iTunes digital release cards for full albums plus bonus material. KT Tunstall's "Drastic Fantastic" and the soundtrack to the film "Into the Wild" Applelogofeaturing music by  Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder will be part of the card debut retailing for $14.99 and $11.99 respectively. Starbucks will also sell limited-edition re-loadable purchase or gift cards that include two free downloads when registered online.

Beginning with 600 stores in NY and Seattle on Oct 2 and then expanding nationally, a Starbucks icon will light up on any iPhone or iTouch when in range of a Starbucks WiFi signal. People with the Apple devices or any laptop with iTunes software can use the WiFi signal free to browse iTunes.

ANALYSIS - The partnership allows Starbucks to further imbed music into its brand experience with limited cost and precious self space.  In return Apple gets a ubiquitous and trusted retail partner as it works to extend its own dominance in the music marketplace.

But could Starbucks and iTunes actually accelerate sluggish download growth?  "We're going to see huge improvement in terms of the amount of tracks downloaded", Ken Lombard  the president of  Starbucks Entertainment told AP.

That may seem a bold prediction, but the majority of downloads already happen over the air in Japan and some other markets. Starbucks and iTunes  could in fact be on the front edge of a wireless download wave that once again transforms the new music business.