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Five major UK newspapers are all looking to hop onto the digital music download bandwagon this year.

The Guardian, Times, Mail, Mirror and Sun are all considering rolling out commercial services provides via their web sites and tied to promotions run within the papers themselves, New Media Age reports.

All but the Mail have extensive coverage to the launch of Apple's iTunes Music Store in the UK this week.

Guardian Unlimited will be the first to try its hand in the market. It has teamed up with major label EMI to offer £0.99 promotional downloads from EMI artists performing at this year's Glastonbury Festival. Tracks from the likes of David Bowie, Air and The Bees will be on offer, along with 20 free video clips.

Simon Waldman, director of digital publishing at Guardian Newspapers, said the move was simply a trial to help the publishing company understand how the download market works.

Representatives from other paper said they had no specific download strategies in place but were considering such moves. News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Sun and Times websites, said it had already begun talking to digital music suppliers.

We can see newspapers making forays into the digital music arena through promotional tie-ins with suppliers and labels, we wonder whether music buyers would really view the dailies as music suppliers on a par with HMV, Virgin, Apple or Napster.

Then again, one of the key opportunities of digital distribution is the way it makes any web site a reseller of sorts, along the lines of Amazon's affiliates programme. Online sellers will of necessity be more volume-hungry than high street retailers, and as they fight to carve out market share, they will be looking to build marketing partnerships with well-known brands of the kind Napster has forged with Dixons and NTL in order to spread the word as widely as possible. ®

Related stories

Apple opens iTunes in the UK, France and Germany
Indie labels reject iTunes
OD2 unveils 1p-a-play digital music jukebox
NTL signs up Napster
Dixons signs Napster promo exclusive
Napster UK goes live

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