R.E.M. Previewing Album On MySpace

This represents the first such initiative involving a social networking portal.

R.E.M has partnered with MySpace.com to preview its new Warner Bros. album, "Around the Sun," beginning today (Sept. 21). This represents the first such initiative involving a social networking portal.

For the next two weeks, visitors to MySpace will be able to play tracks from the album for free. The preview also will offer links to tour dates, an iTunes clips sampler, photos and mobile ring tones and wallpapers on a dedicated site.

"R.E.M. is one of those legendary bands that create an event-like atmosphere on our site," MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe says. "This is a unique chance to get millions of people talking, simultaneously, about the new album."

MySpace.com has about 4 million registered users, but there is no need to register in order to listen to the album. Registered users, however, have the additional capability of adding the R.E.M. profile link to their personal list and passing the link to other users. DeWolfe says that besides the sheer numbers, placement on MySpace benefited from the "exponential" effect of users spreading the word to each other.

DeWolfe declined to detail the underlying business arrangement. "Our site is supported by advertising," he says. "But there will be times that a music company will pay for advertising, and there are times when we will do business development deals."

"We expect many more deals like this in the future," he continues. "It's a new way for indie and major labels to get their music out to the masses, and we believe it will work out well for the labels, MySpace and for music fans."