Digital music site OD2 (On Demand Distribution) has declared today Digital Download Day — a strange choice of name as the deal, offering all internet users the chance to download £5 worth of songs completely free, lasts a week.

Visitors will be able to access more than 110,000 titles and, with their £5, can buy 500 streamed songs, 50 downloads or five tunes to save or burn on to CDs.

"It's time for the record industry to come out fighting. This heralds the end of the beginning for the digital music industry as we move out of the pirate stage and into something altogether more workable," said Peter Gabriel, musician and founder of OD2.

The move is supported by many industry big names including MSN, HMV, Ministry of Sound and ISPs Tiscali and Freeserve.

"One of the key parts of the record industry's strategy is to ensure that the performers and composers get paid for their work. Giving as many people as possible the opportunity to try this for free will show them how easy it is to download music legally and hopefully they will be encouraged to come back later and pay to download their favourite songs," said Andrew Yeates, director of the British Phonographic Society.

But there is a catch. Visitors must submit their credit card details to register to the £4.99 a month subscription package, but will not be charged for the first £5, equal to the first month's subscription charge. They can then cancel before any money is taken from their credit card.

The offer will run for a one-week period from today next Wednesday, 9 October.

The site has received tens of thousands of hits today alone.

"We want to show people that a legal market exists, many people were nervous using download services and hopefully this will allow them to overcome those fears," said a spokeswoman at OD2.

Music site Kazaa is now the 18th most popular site in Europe, attracting five million page impressions per month.

Mac users will not be able to take advantage of the offer as the service is only compatible with PCs.