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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Single on memory stick for Keane
Keane singer Tom Chaplin
Keane's album Under The Iron Sea went to number one in June
Rock band Keane will be the first act to release a single on USB flash drives, their record label says.

1,500 of the gadgets will go on sale with MP3 copies of the band's single, Nothing In My Way, later this month.

"We're definitely testing the waters," said Island Records general manager Jon Turner, adding he would "love to see" more releases in the format next year.

But Keane are not pioneering the idea. Canadian band Barenaked Ladies started selling albums on USB drives last year.

Robbie Williams also released his Greatest Hits album on a memory card for mobile phones and hand-held computers in 2004.

Although there are no official sales figures for the card, the fact that few other acts have copied the idea suggests it failed to make an impression.

In that instance, cost could have been a factor. The memory card cost 29.99 - more than double the price of the CD.

A mock-up of the single's artwork
The memory stick will be packaged with CD-sized artwork
The Keane record, however, will retail for 3.99, which is the same as many major CD singles.

Tackling piracy

The USB single is chiefly targeted at technology enthusiasts, many of whom have turned to unofficial downloads in recent years.

Weighing less than 5 grams, the flash drive will contain a video for the song and can be re-used for storing data, with 512 megabytes of space available.

The single also comes without copy protection, meaning that it can be played on a wide variety of digital music players.

Mr Turner said Keane's older audience are a "perfect fit" for the new technology.

"They're kind of people that would use these things already," he said.

Island Records plans to gauge reaction to the device by collecting feedback from Keane's website, and from people who enter an internet competition open to fans who purchase the flash drive.

"If there's a positive reaction, I'd love to do this on future releases next year," said Turner.

Tour cancelled

Keane won two Brit Awards last year for best British breakthrough act and best British album, for their debut Hopes and Fears.

Their current album, Under The Iron Sea, entered the UK charts at number one in June.

The band had to cancel a North American tour last month as singer Tim Chaplin received treatment for a drink and drugs addiction.

However, they returned to the stage in Hull this week, with Chaplin telling the audience he felt "great".

1,500 copies of the band's memory stick single will be stocked by HMV stores from 30 October.

Unlike the CD single and digital versions of the song, it will not be eligible for the official UK singles chart.

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