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Charlatans choose Radiohead-esque album promotion

Alternative group will give away digital version of You Cross My Path starting March 3.

British rock group The Charlatans are the latest to experiment with an online music giveaway.

The alternative rock band, known for such songs as "One to Another" and "Weirdo," said on its Web site that fans will be allowed to download its latest album, You Cross My Path, free of charge starting March 3. The music can be downloaded from the band's Web site or here.

The album's digital distribution will be followed by the release of a physical CD beginning May 19. This will include the sale of a vinyl box set.

This is nearly identical to the plan pioneered by Radiohead when launching In Rainbows. Radiohead shook the music world in October by allowing fans to pay whatever price they wanted for the album.

Some observers credit Radiohead's pay-what-you-want music offer with the brisk sales of the CD-version of In Rainbows CD.

In its debut week, the album sold more than 122,000 copies, good enough to make it the best-selling record in the U.S.

Radiohead's lead was immediately followed by spoken-word musician Saul Williams. Other marquee performers, including Courtney Love, are considering similar offerings.

Side note: Alan Moulder, the record producer who has worked with acts such as Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, is quickly becoming the studio engineer of choice for online-music giveaways. He mixed both You Cross My Path and Williams' album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust.

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