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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 15:23 GMT
George Michael shuns music industry
George Michael
George Michael courted controversy with his single Shoot the Dog
Pop star George Michael is abandoning the music business to release his songs online for free instead.

The multi-millionaire singer said he will never make another album for sale in record shops because he does not need the cash and does not enjoy fame.

Fans will be given the option to make donations online in exchange for downloading the tracks, and the proceeds will be given to charity.

He is promoting his latest album, Patience, which he said is his last.

The 40-year-old star made his announcement during an interview with Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1.

I'll hopefully be a happier man, giving my music and also doing something really positive with my music
George Michael
Speaking about his decision, he said: "I'm sure it's unprecedented, it's definitely unprecedented for someone who still sells records.

"I've been very well remunerated for my talents over the years so I really don't need the public's money."

He added that he hoped people downloading his music would donate to his favourite charities.

'All the negativity'

Explaining his decision, the former Wham! frontman said: "It does two things - it takes the pressure off to have a collection of songs every so many years, which is what nearly killed me.

"I'm not pretending I won't be famous any more, but in the modern world if you take yourself out of the financial aspect of things, you're not making anybody any money, you're not losing anybody any money.

"Believe me, I'll be of very little interest to the press in a certain number of years.

"I'll hopefully be a happier man, giving my music and also doing something really positive with my music if people are generous enough to donate to the site. I'll remove myself from all that negativity."

The singer has had a rollercoaster of a career from the heady days as a heart-throb in Wham to his arrest for indecency in a Los Angeles public toilet in 1998.

Since becoming a solo star he has rarely been far from controversy, including his vilification for his single Shoot the Dog which was accompanied by a video showing Tony Blair as a poodle to George Bush.

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