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In the era of Atkins and calorie counting, can free digital music downloads lure the American public back to the fast-food dark side? Following Pepsi, Heineken, and others, McDonald’s becomes the latest company to jump on the free music band wagon. Starting June 8, anyone who buys a Big Mac Extra Value Meal will get not only a greasilicious serving of McFood, but also an access code enabling them to download one free song from the Sony Connect music service. The promotion will last 6-10 weeks.

While good news for music fans (at least, music fans who can stomach McDonalds food), this is a dicey strategy for the music business. If recording companies continue to give away songs, the perceived value (already as low as 80 cents per download) could drop significantly. Giving away for free what the music industry fought so hard to monetize seems counterproductive.

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