New York-based Elektra Entertainment Group this week is expected to launch a Web-only preview of the new album by rock band Metallica, the biggest-selling band of the ’90s, according to music auditing service SoundScan. The album, titled S&M, will be available in its entirety, track by track, exclusively online in a streaming-audio format prior to its Nov. 23 release.
Fans will have access to the two-disc set through a variety of Web outlets, including more than 200 radio station sites, e-tailers and the official label and band sites. The album also will be available at Entertaindom.com, Time Warner’s recently launched Web hub devoted to entertainment.
This week’s Web-only streaming audio release is the first time Elektra has offered music to fans via streaming audio preceding the official album release.
“It was something that the band felt pretty strongly about,” said Camille Hackney, vice president of multimedia marketing and business development at Elektra Entertainment Group, a division of New York-based media giant Time Warner. “Everyone’s doing the download thing, but the band really wanted to test streaming and give fans who use the Net the opportunity to preview the music.”
Hackney said the new album is a departure for Metallica, which trades its usual bad-boy metal rock for a live recording backed by The San Francisco Symphony. “Because the music is a little bit different, the best way to explain it is to have people listen to it,” Hackney said.
The decision to offer the songs via streaming audio rather than as a digital download was based, in part, on copyright and distribution issues, said Hackney. But it also reflects the state of the market, she added. “While the technology for full digital download is here, the consumer base isn’t quite here yet,” she said.
Using streaming media was a way to reach the widest audience, she said. “People have been living with streaming technology for the last three years or so. It’s something everyone has the capability to do. Downloading is still difficult for the average consumer.”
Fans also will be able to pre-order the album through commerce links on participating Web sites. n
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