Prince single free to Verizon listeners

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NEW YORK - Prince is giving away the first single from his upcoming album "Planet Earth," which is due out in weeks, to Verizon mobile phone users.

Similar to David Bowie's involvement with a Nokia phone launch last year and Paul McCartney's plan to publish an album through Starbucks, Prince's latest move is part of a trend for long-established musicians to try to interest new fans in their latest music by aligning themselves with the next new thing.

"Artists have to stay in the public mind and they have to stay hip," said Jupiter Research analyst David Card, who noted that a lot of time had elapsed since Prince's best known hits such as "Purple Rain" or "1999."

Prince's new single "Guitar" became downloadable on Thursday to Verizon Wireless phones to customers who use the service provider's new V Cast song ID feature, which identifies songs for listeners who hold their phone next to a speaker.

"For an artist to be associated with a slick new service is a good idea," said Card, adding that the artist's appearance at the half-time show at the Super Bowl football game in February was a similar move.

"He probably wouldn't have done the Super Bowl in his heyday. He's a mainstream artist that needs to keep his name out there," said Card.

Fans who download the free ID feature can then go to Web sites such as revver.com, myspace.com or veoh.com to play the video from the Prince single holding the phone close by.

The phone will then provide information about the song and an option to download it wirelessly on the spot.

Verizon Wireless has had deals with other groups in the past for exclusive sale of the song for weeks before general release but Prince is the biggest name artist who has announced such a deal with it so far. It did not reveal the terms of its agreement with Prince.
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