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Free Springsteen download

It's not quite following in Prince's footsteps, but Bruce Springsteen is trying to build excitement for his new album by giving the single away.

Here's a follow-up to my post about predicting the big tour of 2008, which referenced the upcoming album by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band...Bruce has released the first single from the album as a free download. It's available at the Guardian Unlimited site, the music site of the UK's Guardian newspaper. It's also available as a free download on iTunes.

Why's he doing this? Well, in the era where the radio hardly ever plays new songs by established artists, and most people are tuned into their iPod anyway, a free download is one of the only ways to get fans excited to buy the album and buy tickets for the tour. Of course, for this strategy to work, Springsteen and his record company should have publicized the heck out of it--like Prince did when he gave his CD away with a newspaper. Instead, you have to go one page deep into his Web site before you discover the free single, and even then, it only mentions the iTunes download, not the Guardian one. (The reliably iconoclastic Bob Lefsetz has a better strategy: just give the whole darn thing away and get fans out to the tour.)

The title of the song he's giving away is pleasingly ironic: "Radio Nowhere."