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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April 2008, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Portishead launch album online
Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

Portishead's lead singer Beth Gibbons on stage at London's Hammersmith Apollo on 10 April 2008.
Portishead is not the first band to launch an album in this way

Bristol band Portishead will release their new album on a music streaming service a week before it goes on sale in the shops.

All 11 tracks from the album, Third, will be available from 21 April on Last.fm.

It will be free to listen to the tracks online, but users will have to pay to download the tunes to their computer or digital music player.

The music industry hopes free streaming will cut illegal downloading.

Behaviour impact

It is the first time Last.fm has made an album available before its official release date.

Last.fm's Christian Ward said: "There is a certain group who are downloading in less than legal ways. If people can get hold of an album early on, it might not stop that kind of behaviour, but it does have more of an impact."

REM launched their new album, Accelerate, on the music streaming service iLike last month.

Madonna has signed a deal with Vodafone to make her new album, Hard Candy, available on mobile phones from 21 April, a week before its official launch in the shops.

Last.fm was bought by the American media company CBS for 140 million last year.

It relaunched in January and now lets users listen to thousands of full-length tracks for free.

The service is funded through on-screen banner advertising. Artists get paid each time a track is played.



SEE ALSO
Persistence pays off for Portishead
Monday, 7 April 2008, 07:41 GMT |  Entertainment
Portishead announce comeback gigs
Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 12:02 GMT |  Entertainment
Portishead back after eight years
Tuesday, 18 January 2005, 17:54 GMT |  Music

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