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Monday, September 24, 2007, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Starbucks to give away 50M free iTunes downloads

Starbucks announced Monday that it plans to give away 50 million songs to customers of its U.S. coffee shops to promote its new iTunes wireless service that's set to debut next month in select markets.

From October 2 to November 7, more than 10,000 Starbucks locations will hand out approximately 1.5 million "Song of the Day" cards redeemable on the iTunes Store. Upon receiving the cards, customers will have until the end of the calendar year to redeem the song.

The complimentary download cards will offer hand-picked songs from top artists including Bob Dylan, Joss Stone, Dave Matthews, Bebel Gilberto, John Mayer, KT Tunstall, John Legend, Annie Lennox, Joni Mitchell, Keith Urban and Paul McCartney plus music from up-and-coming artists such as Sia, Band of Horses, Hilary McRae, Frederico Aubele and Sara Bareilles.

The promotion aims to celebrate the coffee house's new "Now Playing" feature, which will allow customers using the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks to instantly preview, buy, and download the music currently playing overhead.

Set to go live on October 2 in more than 600 Starbucks locations in New York and Seattle, the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store will expand to 350 Starbucks stores in the San Francisco Bay area in early November; 500 stores in Los Angeles in early February 2008; 300 stores in Chicago in March 2008; and additional markets throughout the U.S. later in 2008.

"This is a landmark moment for Starbucks," said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. "With the launch of the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks we can now provide the same classic coffeehouse experience and compelling music offerings our customers have come to expect from us through a new platform ideal for the digital music consumer."

Also beginning October 2, Starbucks company-operated locations in the U.S. will offer iTunes Digital Release Cards for sale, including KT Tunstall’s "Drastic Fantastic" with bonus music videos, digital booklet and a behind-the-scenes documentary video, and music from the film "Into the Wild," featuring all new songs from Eddie Vedder with bonus tracks and digital booklet.

Each iTunes Digital Release Card will contain a full album’s worth of music and feature collectible artwork. After the card is activated upon purchase at Starbucks, customers can download the album and bonus material on the iTunes Store for Mac or PC.

Starbucks will also offer the Starbucks Card Plus Two, a limited edition re-loadable Starbucks card with added bonus value. When a Starbucks Card Plus Two is registered online the cardholder will receive two complimentary song downloads of their choice on the U.S. iTunes Store.