The Evening Standard has teamed up with BT Rich Media to launch a fully fledged music download service. Consumers will be able to browse a selection of audio tracks and music videos and select them for delivery over their phone lines.
Readers of the Evening Standard and of Associated Newspapers’ free paper, Metro, will be able to use special unlock codes published every week to gain online access to the download service.
The move marks a significant step in newspapers’ involvement with download services. While a number of newspapers have offered music downloads for short-term promotions recently, the Evening Standard/BT partnership appears to be the first permanent service.
Newspapers have used free music and video – and even full-length films – as promotional items for some years, in the form of covermounts. However, digital downloads offer a number of advantages: they can avoid production and distribution costs, pass on the cost of delivery to consumers and potentially make extra revenue in the form of a percentage of sales.
Previous experiments with music downloads include the Evening Standard offering readers 50 free music tracks from online music retailer Wippit last July.
But the Standard was not the first UK newspaper to use music downloads as a major promotional tool. It was beaten by only a week by The Sun, which launched a promotion with online music company Napster. Over a two-month period, The Sun’s Saturday edition offered eight free tracks and a one-month trial subscription to Napster.
The Guardian’s online newspaper, Guardian Unlimited, partnered EMI to test a music download service linked to this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Guardian Unlimited subscribers could download tracks performed by EMI artists at current and past Glastonbury Festivals for 99p.