Apple has confirmed a global giveaway in its countdown to half a billion song sales through iTunes.

The company is adding an online song sales counter to its site, and is encouraging music lovers worldwide to get involved in the race to buy the 500 millionth song.

As part of the countdown, Apple is giving away an iPod mini and an iTunes gift card for 50 songs to the iTunes customer who purchases the winning song at each 100,000 interval.

A rough estimate based on several minutes tallying song sale totals using Apple's counter shows the company to be shifting approximately ten songs each second at this point.

The person who downloads the 500 millionth song will win the grand prize: consisting of "ten iPods of their choice to share with family and friends, an iTunes gift card for 10,000 songs and an all-expenses paid trip for four to see Coldplay on their world tour," Apple said.

"As we prepare to cross this major milestone of half a billion songs, we want to thank our customers, the artists and the music labels who have helped make iTunes a global success," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of applications.

"iTunes continues to be the world's number one online music store featuring the world's best digital music."