Daft Punk Bio-Engineers a Sleepless Sunrise

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Monday, the news began trending that Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories, scheduled for official release in the U.S. May 21, had been "leaked." If so, it was a terrible job of leaking, since it came at the peak of a promotional surge and the band had, the same day, posted the complete album streaming for free on Apple's ( AAPL) iTunes.

One source on Reddit, who simply claims to be a fan but has had reliable insight into Daft Punk matters, mentioned the streaming pre-release on Sunday, the day before it was supposedly leaked and turned up in iTunes.

However it happened, all the confusion caused by the "leaked" rumor and the actual access to the iTunes stream sparked something like a Twitter riot and promoted the heck out of what was already a much publicized release by this very talented house music duo.

A single from the album, Get Lucky, with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and vocals by producer Pharrell Williams, had been released earlier by the band's label, Columbia, and already has 500,000 downloads in the U.K., where a reviewer for The Week called it "the sound of the summer and most likely the year."

Big profiles of the French duo were appearing this week in Pitchfork and the New York Times. A Jumbotron promo video for Random Access Memories was shown at Coachella and a commercial for the album aired during Saturday Night Live.

All that would seem to indicate the free iTunes download was not the band's response to a leak, but was, like everything else about Random Access Memories, part of a carefully engineered effort, tuned to perfection. Perhaps the "leaked" rumor itself was also planned? I wouldn't be surprised.

Certainly others have used the streaming preview option, including David Bowie, who recently handled the release of his wildly successful The Next Day in very similar way: a video, a single, some carefully placed promotional ads, a free streaming version on iTunes -- just enough activity to spark a Twitter frenzy.

Worked like a charm for Bowie, who sold more copies of The Next Day in its first week than any album he had released in more than 20 years.

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