U.K. alternative rock veterans the Charlatans will release their new album as a free download with modern rock radio network Xfm's Web site, xfm.co.uk, in early 2008.

The band's new single "You Cross my Path" will be released as a free download from Oct. 22. The single and the as-yet-untitled album -- the band's 10th studio set -- will also be available from the Charlatans' website, thecharlatans.net, as well as the Xfm site. Xfm have also scored the first radio play of the new single on its "Music: Response" show after 8pm on Oct. 4.

"Why would you volunteer to join the army for 10 years unless you had no choice?" said the Charlatans' manager Alan McGee in a statement. "Record companies are kind of like the army -- very regulated. We were really excited when Xfm got behind us and were as enthusiastic about the download as we are -- they are the first people to embrace music for the people. The band will get paid by more people coming to gigs, buying merchandise, publishing and synch fees. It's the future business model."

The Charlatans, known as Charlatans U.K. in the United States, have scored eight U.K. Top 10 albums, with 1990's "Some Friendly" (Situation Two), 1995's "The Charlatans" and 1997's "Tellin' Stories" (both Beggar's Banquet) all hitting No. 1. Their last album, 2006's "Simpatico" was released by the now-defunct Sanctuary Records.

They are the latest band to experiment with their release format, marking a further shift away from the traditional CD release. In May, U.K. alternative band the Crimea released its second album "Secrets of the Witching Hour" as a free download, with the band convinced that the move would widen its fan base and encourage ticket sales. Meanwhile, Ash recently announced it would not be releasing any more albums, preferring to issue individual tracks as downloads. And, at the weekend, Radiohead announced that its new album "In Rainbows" will be self-released as a download, although there will be a traditional CD release next year.

Meanwhile, other artists have linked-up with newspapers for album giveaways in the U.K. market. Prince released his "Planet Earth" album in the U.K. with the Mail on Sunday, while fans who attended his London concerts at the O2 also received a copy of the CD. At the weekend, alternative rock veterans Travis followed up the physical release of its new single "My Eyes" last month by giving away a CD with the same paper featuring the single and 11 other tracks, including several of the band's biggest hits.