Sony, McDonald's in Talks on E-Music Deal

By | March 23, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Instead of fries, how about a little Beyonce or Bruce Springsteen to go with your Big Mac?

In the latest blend of e-music with the food-and-beverage industry, Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. is working out a deal to promote the upcoming launch of its download music service through fast-food chain McDonald’s Corp., the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

According to the newspaper, McDonald’s is expected to commit about $30 million in advertising to the partnership in exchange for unspecified discounts to license some songs from Sony’s new download service, Sony Connect.

Those songs would then be offered to McDonald’s patrons for free with the purchase of certain menu items, with customers receiving codes they can use online for the downloads.

Both Sony and McDonald’s declined comment on the report. But the restaurant chain acknowledged it is exploring tie-ins with a variety of companies “in the areas of music, sports, fashion and entertainment.”

News of an impending partnership with McDonald’s comes as Sony seeks to gain a foothold in the burgeoning Internet music market against such rivals as Apple Computer’s iTunes and Roxio Inc.’s Napster.

Sony, whose record labels are home to such acts as Beyonce, Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, and Offspring, announced in January that it would launch Sony Connect this spring, offering some 500,000 songs for downloading at 99 cents per tune.

Having pioneered portable music with the Walkman, Sony is hoping to use Connect to help spur sales of its new generation of digital music players, thus reclaiming lost market share from Apple’s dominant iPod.

The Times said McDonald’s had been in talks on a similar marketing effort with Apple but switched plans after a last-minute overture from Sony.

The reported Sony-McDonald’s venture comes less than a week after cafe chain Starbucks Corp. unveiled plans to offer its customers an opportunity to record five songs for $6.99, plus additional tracks at 99 cents a piece, while waiting for their cappuccino or latte orders. Starbucks is teaming up with Hewlett-Packard Co. for that project.

Last October, Apple announced a marketing alliance with PepsiCo Inc. to promote its iTunes service.

Under that tie-in, Apple said it would offer 100 million free song downloads to consumers who find winning codes under the caps of their soft drinks.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said recently that iTunes was on track to sell about 70 million to 75 million songs by the end of April – short of its original goal.

Jobs said that song redemptions for the Pepsi promotion had fallen short of the company’s initial expectations.

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