Iron Maiden Tempts Youth with Free Album Trial

The musicians of British heavy metal band Iron Maiden are well into their fifties, but that's no reason for them to ignore a potential new fan base of teenage download-fiends.

The band said last week that it would offer a free trial download of its latest album - the greatest hits-themed "Somewhere Back In Time" - that can be played three times. The campaign, called "Somehwere Back in Sound" because of its emphasis on better-sounding tracks than MP3s, will encourage listeners to eventually pay up for a copy of the album freed from digital copyright restrictions.

The band's manager, Rob Smallwood, thinks kids will appreciate the high-quality tracks even though they're not playable on iPods. "We wanted to give the kids of today a fair chance of hearing the music as we would have first heard and experienced it in our day when checking it out in a record shop," said Smallwood. "Top quality sound, in their own time and in an environment of their own choosing so they are able to absorb the depth and worth of the music and lyrics that make Iron Maiden the phenomenon they are . . . Sadly, the WMA (Windows Media Audio) isn't compatible with Macs or iPods, but we are confident that our young fans are adept and fluent with modern technology and we will post simple instructions on our website for any that need guidance."

Iron Maiden's Web-download strategy goes for sound over convenience, unlike Radiohead's recent download experiment which gave away lower-quality MP3s that didn't expire. Nine Inch Nails also tried something similar, with album extras driving up the cost of an otherwise free basic downloadable album. -Rachel Rosmarin

Iron Maiden