Alicia Keys first to put album for free on Facebook


December 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Singer Alicia Keys is taking a different approach with her latest album, scheduled for release next week. On Monday, she started letting her fans listen to it on Facebook, in its entirety, free of charge. Now, other big name artists plan to follow her lead.

Her album won't be officially released until December 15th, but as of Monday morning, fans of Alicia Keys have been able to listen to all of her new songs on Facebook. The singer posted her entire album on her fan page.

The San Francisco start-up, Involver, came up with the music player application, which doesn't allow users to download the music, but it does allow free streaming.

"Today's been kind of crazy for all of us because we've had phone calls and emails coming in from artists or labels that has seen what Alicia Keys has done and said we want to have this for ourselves," says Rahim Fazal, the co-founder and CEO of Involver.

This is the first time a world-famous artist has debuted an entire album on Facebook.

The social networking site has an estimated 350 million users and Keys herself has over 1.3 million fans on her page. At the San Francisco MusicTech summit today, many had heard about Keys' latest move, and called it brilliant.

"The way to sell it, is for it to be popular. And how does it become popular, is by people knowing about it, and how do people know about it, is if they can get it for free," says Brian Zisk, from the SF Music Tech Summit.

Music experts predict enough people will like Alicia Keys' album to buy it, since fans will want to pay and download her music so they can listen to it on their iPod or CD player. Still, Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, isn't convinced. The alternative rock band released its latest album a few months ago.

"We didn't do it through first Facebook because we're into the concept of trying to develop everything toward a website. We see the website as a form of an album," said Jenkins.

Despite such reservations, music lovers can expect that more artists will use Facebook to launch their albums. Involver says they're already developing applications for some "really big names," scheduled to be released in the coming weeks and months.