Some are pointing out how the pre-release strategy makes iTunes relevant again. The platform has had some serious issues when stacked against streaming services like Pandora ( P), Rdio and Spotify. It bogs down your machine, it's difficult to navigate, the stream is not reliable, etc. I'm sure readers can offer their own set of complaints.

But in streaming albums as part of a pre-release promotion, iTunes has one tremendous advantage over just about any other site: It can put a "buy" button in front of each listener. You can purchase the album on pre-order or an individual song, or any other album by that group or any other group, without interrupting the music.

In addition, iTunes is an entrenched, ubiquitous platform. Most music listeners have bought something from iTunes, so they already have an account and are familiar enough with it that a tweet like, "Daft Punk streaming free now on iTunes!" is all the information necessary to locate, listen and buy. Clunky though it is, there is little danger that the site will crash or the user won't be able to access what you've put there.

Having said all that, music listening trends online are even more fickle than other social media trends. There was a time not long ago when musicians preferred MySpace. It looked like the Web site had a lock on the future of music content. Does anybody use that anymore?

-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in New York.

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