Reprise Records says it will begin selling the debut album from rock act Secret Machines, "Now Here Is Nowhere," as a download three months ahead of its physical release. The move pushes the envelope

Reprise Records says it will begin selling the debut album from rock act Secret Machines, "Now Here Is Nowhere," as a download three months ahead of its physical release. The move pushes the envelope on the lead-time major labels are giving to online sales of new releases. While individual tracks have been serviced to download retailers well in advance of street date, full albums are typically not made available more than a week ahead of time.

As part of the Reprise offer, those who buy the album online will receive six free additional downloads, a bundled collection called "Sympathy for the Download 01." The digital sampler will feature a Secret Machines bonus track and cuts from upcoming Warner Bros./Reprise releases by the Von Bondies, the Walkmen, the Sun, Head Automatica and Johnathan Rice.

Fans buying through Secret Machines' Web site and participating online retailers will also receive in the mail a free CD-R on which to burn the music to disc. The CD-R is a limited-edition with exclusive Secret Machines artwork.

Robin Bechtel, VP of Warner Bros./Reprise Records new media, says the strategy is designed to complement an extended Internet promotion for the album. That campaign will include making the album available for free streaming in its entirety.

"If we're going to start Internet marketing three months before the album comes out, we might as well start selling it online too," she says. "People can buy the music rather than looking for it on file-trading networks or not at all."

Reprise is banking on word-of-mouth from early downloaders to build a bigger awareness for the album by street date.

Digital sales of the album start tomorrow (Feb. 3). Reprise will conduct a similar effort with the Von Bondies, starting Feb. 10. The lead time on that initiative is shorter: The new album "Pawn Shoppe Heart" will be available for sale online one month ahead of street date.