The European music industry Monday announced the biggest give-away ever of digital music in March, its latest bid to fight online piracy.
The March 21 event, called Digital Download Day Europe (DDD Europe), aims to raise consumer awareness on how and where to download legal digital music and will offer 5 euros of free tracks in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain.
At the moment, 4.5 million people are estimated to be accessing almost a billion pirated tracks at any one time, and the industry said DDE Europe was "a proactive step ... to offer consumers a quality, legal alternative."
The idea is being spearheaded by OD2, a digital music distribution firm set up by former rock star Peter Gabriel, and will offer 150,000 tracks from online retailers such as HMV, Tiscali, AlaPage, Ministry of Sound, MSN, Freeserve, dotmusic and Wanadoo.
"The task for us all is to make a compelling case for consumers," said OD2 chief executive Charles Grimsdale at the MIDEM international music marketplmace being held in this French Riviera resort.
"They're asking the question `Why should I ultimately pay for something I can get for free?' Yet there's a widening gap between the quality of peer-to-peer files and the premium grade service provided through legitimate channels.