“Hot new music didn’t provide the only buzz at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, last week. iTunes Custom Cards were one of the biggest hits,” Mary Huhn reports for The New York Post. “Rather than hand out customized lighters or bottle openers, members and publicists from more than 200 bands passed out snazzy plastic credit card-sized cards with the artist’s picture on the front and a code on the back. The code enabled users to download a single, via a PC or Mac, from Apple’s iTunes Music Store for free.”

“The idea developed from the green iTunes prepaid cards sold at retail,” Huhn reports. “Earlier this year, Apple execs took the prepaid card concept one step further and created a free sampler of the Grammy nominees, which was distributed at the awards ceremony. Then iTunes created 500 custom cards to service radio with the Grammys’ all-star recording of “Across the Universe,” along with Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone’s rousing tribute to Janis Joplin. (Both songs also are sold on iTunes with proceeds going to charity). Music labels like the idea since it’s a disk-free way to distribute music.”

Full article here.

More info about iTunes Custom Cards and images of many card examples can be found at http://www.apple.com/itunes/marketing/customcards/