Promotion: Loading Tracks

Cruise the Web long enough and you'll run into a banner with candy-colored iPods lined up in a row and the text shouting, "FREE!" Even Web-savvy consumers, including this reporter, are tempted to click and sign up for a credit card or other promotion.

With the advent of iPod jewelry, skins, and well, you name it, anything attached to this music phenomenon is hot. But loading the iPod entails hours of transferring CD tracks and leaves many red-eyed and bored; loading 40 gigs worth of music can take up to 100 hours.

To remedy this problem, individuals and companies have swooped in to take that mindless task over for you. Students and those with spare time offer their services on Craigslist, while businesses like Loadpod have sprung up to do the dirty work.

In addition, iPod loading has become another way to lure consumers. John Richards, a popular DJ on KEXP, a listener-supported radio station in Seattle, recently offered his services in this manner. In order to raise money for Northwest Harvest, a non-profit organization, the DJ donated his time and music expertise as a giveaway, which sold for over $300.

Richards, whose music taste is highly regarded, chose and purchased 50 songs from the iTunes Music Store and loaded them onto the highest bidder's iPod. The station was pleased with the iPod loading giveaway, and plans to offer giveaways of this nature in the future.

Similarly, Apple took note of this medium's value when it offered the special edition U2 iPod. It came with the band's signatures and a $50 coupon off of the long-awaited and masterfully-compiled 446-song boxed set of greatest hits and rare tracks, which were available only on iTunes.

Services that load music onto the iPod may become popular. It's doubtful that the iPod brand extension and promotional machine will recede anytime soon. In fact, it's likely marketers will create a new mix of promotions offering iPod accessories and iTunes gift certificates, as well as several hours of iPod loading. Dacia Ray

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