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Sugared water seller Coca-Cola has decided to toss its brand into the online music selling ring, crowding what is already a bazaar-like marketplace.

In January of next year, the myCoke Music site will go live in the U.K. Coke has promised a selection of over 250,000 songs from 8,500 artists at a cost of 99p each. The new service will be run in partnership with music distributor OD2 - Microsoft's European DRM supplier.

You've got to admire the tremendous sack of a company that can pull off handing kiddies teeth-rotting drinks with one hand while serving up a DRM infection with the other. The cunning marketeers at Coke, however, are one step behind rival Pepsi, which already announced a deal with Apple to give 100 million iTunes songs. But Apple has yet to roll out a Euro service, and Coke is stepping up to give the UK kiddies what they want.

In different shapes and forms, we now have Apple, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Napster, Pepsi, Coke and maybe even Wal-Mart hawking songs online. All of these companies are rushing to enter a business with atom thin margins at best and business sinking losses at worst. In almost every case, the motive is to link to a larger sale be it pricey iPods or placing a brand in the consumer's face for other, profit-making goods.

You have to wonder if the music industry is longing for the day when they had the entire online music populace collected in one, illegal place - Napster. A direct link to tens of millions of users would seem to suit the monopolistic music industry far more than divvying up sales across computer makers, retailers and soft drink makers.

At the same time, the record labels must be overjoyed at the fact that so many companies are willing to associate their precious brands with DRM technology. What says, "Family Values" more than Coke - the trusted hand that keeps your children happy and alert at night.

We should probably stop before getting into some serious trouble but let it be said that tough to open CDs had their merits. You can't order them up on demand and actually have to leave the house to get them, but at least you can play them whenever you want. ®

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