Like burgers and fries: Johnny Rockets and eMusic?

Here’s a weird one, perhaps even weirder than the eMusic deal with Westin Hotels: Johnny Rockets Expands Music Initiative with Local Market Campaign. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Johnny Rockets is a faux-retro hamburger chain, and now an eMusic business partner:

… Johnny Rockets will be expanding its branded music to bring the classic Johnny Rockets music experience to consumers and music fans in new ways.

The new local market campaign will include custom playlists on eMusic, a retailer of independent music, free eMusic downloads, Johnny Rockets branded iPod giveaways, and radio and online contests.

For an example of what they mean by custom playlists see the Johnny Rockets Heritage Playlist on the eMusic site, consisting of tunes by the Drifters, the Temptations, the Beach Boys, and so on. (Given that all of these were major-label artists, the playlist doesn’t appear to contain original versions of the songs but rather live and/or re-recorded versions. But then, as I noted above, Johnny Rockets isn’t an authentic 50’s establishment either.)

To be honest some of the concepts behind this promotion seem a bit strained to me, like the Johhny Rockets Music Routes Map (which, among other things, takes you from Van Morrison to Yo La Tengo by way of the Eagles). However it does illustrate an interesting point: Potential customers like Johnny Rockets who are contemplating promotions with digital music tie-ins want to be able to support the iPod, since that’s the music player its customers know, but Apple is too high and mighty to want to do deals with any but the largest and most high-profile companies (e.g., Coke, Nike, etc.). Enter eMusic: iPod-compatible tracks from a company hungry enough to pursue business opportunities Apple would turn up its nose at. Johnny Rockets gets to implement the favorite schemes of its marketing department, and eMusic gets a chance to pick up some spare revenue and promote the service.