It seems like a long time since I affixed my burning gaze towards iTunes, and as luck would have it, there's a bunch of iTunes news floating around just aching to find their way into a roundup smörgåsbord type of article.

It sounds like the new Pepsi zillion song giveaway is going to be with Amazon MP3 instead of iTunes. You'll probably hear marketing speak say they're giving away $1 billion worth of songs, but the reality is a different situation:

"PepsiCo is planning to place tokens on five billion drink containers. Consumers will have to collect five tokens to qualify for free tracks. In theory, the campaign could flood the market with $1 billion of free music (Apple charges 99 cents per DRM-free track), but redemption rates on these types of offers are usually low, at about 2 per cent.

iPodObserver has a quick story about independent superstar band Radiohead, who made headlines by letting anyone choose the price they wanted to pay for the album. Rumor has it that Radiohead are working through a deal directly with iTunes, the first of its nature. If this happens, it upends the content distribution methods currently in place by bypassing the middleman. In other words, it screws the record companies.

Ars Technica has an interesting article about kids using podcasts to replace lectures and iPod-ready versions of Cliffs Notes for late-night cramming.

Om Malik has a little introductory article about Songbird, an open-source version of iTunes that's built on the Mozilla platform. The Mozilla platform is the basis of widely beloved internet browser FireFox, so if Songbird ends up like FireFox, it will be bloated and slow we'll have a nice alternative to iTunes. Songbird isn't anywhere near ready for release yet, as indicated by the current version available: Songbird 0.3 Developer Pre-release. Amazingly, device syncing is not one of the core functions yet, though they do have add-ons that allow syncing for iPods and other devices. There's a video interview there that's worth a look, and there's an interesting tirade against iTunes starting at about 9:45, calling iTunes a bottleneck in the value chain. Yup, he calls it that even as he compliments it for being the best out there as it stands. See below: