Labels OK album downloads

Launch.com bowing Beasties with unreleased tracks

As record companies race to announce alliances with technology firms, artists are racing to become the first to offer entire albums for download over the Internet.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Def Leppard and the Beastie Boys all jumped into the fray Tuesday, making their music available through secure downloading over specific Web sites.

The moves mark the first time major artists have allowed their entire albums to be downloaded, and with the approval of major labels.

Typically, a label sanctions the downloading of a preview track or song snippet for promotional purposes. Though labels hope downloading will eventually become a profit center, it remains largely a promotional tool.

Beginning June 4, the RHCP will showcase tracks from its upcoming Warner Bros. disc “Californication.” Three tracks per day will be offered on the band’s Web site for 10 days.

‘Euphoria’ available

Songs from Def Leppard’s Island/ Def Jam Records disc “Euphoria” will also be available for download.

Neither disc will be commercially available until June 8.

The Beastie Boys will bow today three previously unreleased tracks on Web site Launch.com through a deal with Capitol Records and the band’s Grand Royal imprint.

The online firm will also donate $1 per visitor during the 10-week run to two charities supporting the Kosovo relief effort.

Microsoft will match the Launch.com donations, up to $1 million.

Launch.com uses Microsoft’s Windows Media Technologies 4.0 for the digital downloading of music to consumers’ personal computers.