Soft drink giant's music store closed July 31.

Shortly after closing down its pan-European digital music service July 31, Coca-Cola Co. has partnered with iTunes Music Store for a new music marketing alliance, which is set to kick off Aug. 9.

The venture will include two major promotional campaigns; a six-week push offering 70 million free downloadable tracks which kicks-off mid-August; and an Apple iPod give-away every hour for eights weeks, scheduled to start in September.

Accessible via www.coca-cola.com/music and integrated into Apple Computer’s iTunes music store, the new Coke-branded venture will be offered across Europe, opening initially in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The new venture will pay special attention to unsigned acts, who will have a dedicated section for uploading their recordings for potential pan-European promotion.

Unsigned songs highlighted by Coke and iTunes will be downloadable via podcasts on iTunes, and the artists will be invited to take part in Coca-Cola sponsored live festivals in Europe, including Splash Festival in Chemnitz on Aug. 4-6, and Sonnemondstern in Saalburg on Aug. 11-13.

To promote the new partnership, a series of live gigs are being planned in the European markets targeted by the initial launch. In London, on Aug. 9, The Automatic and Paolo Nutrini will perform at the 100 Club. Recordings of the performances will be available for downloads and podcasts via Coke’s new Web site and iTunes.

“Together, we are creating a unique and exciting platform that gives young people a voice and allows them to refresh their music everyday,” said Dominique Reiniche, president of Coca-Cola European Union Group.

The first major promotional push, offering up to 70 million free downloadable tracks from iTunes, will take place in the United Kingdom, starting in mid-August and lasting six weeks. British consumers will be able to access the songs via iTunes (not the new Coke destination) by keying in unique code numbers on promotional packs of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke beverages. Each person can download up to five songs maximum.

In Germany, in September, the soft-drink giant will give away one of Apple’s iPod digital music players, plus 50 iTunes songs, every hour for eights weeks. German purchasers of the Coke drinks will be able to exchange their Coke Fridge (magnets) coins for free songs on iTunes Germany.

Promotion campaigns in other European markets are expected shortly.

Coca-Cola ventured into the European digital music sales business in 2004 when it launched www.mycokemusic.com, which was operated by digital-service provider OD2. The music store was shut down Sunday (July 31) due to poor sales.