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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and Guns N' Roses released their biggest hits on vinyl records and compact discs, but on Thursday, their new albums will debut online on MySpace.
Users of MySpace, the world's largest social network on the Internet, will be able to listen for free to "Electric Arguments," the new album by McCartney's side-project group The Fireman, and "Chinese Democracy," the long-delayed album by hard rock band Guns N' Roses, before the songs are in stores and at online shops like Amazon.com.
Members of News Corp-owned MySpace will be able to play the songs on the bands' MySpace pages, but they will not be able to download them onto their computers.
Geffen Records plans to exclusively release "Chinese Democracy" on November 23 in the United States at consumer electronics chain Best Buy Co Inc. Most of its tracks have already shown up in various forms, including pirated versions on the Internet.
"Electric Arguments" is due to be released on November 25. Fans can also order songs from that album, but not songs from "Chinese Democracy", through MySpace Music.
MySpace Music is a joint venture with Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Warner Music Group.
Giving fans an early crack at the albums could be a big win for MySpace, which launched a music joint venture with several record labels this year to challenge Apple Inc's iTunes online music store.
MySpace has featured exclusives from other acts, but few as legendary as McCartney and Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose.
It is the third album for The Fireman, a collaboration between the former Beatles bassist and Martin Glover, better known as Youth, the record producer and founding bassist of British punk-industrial music band Killing Joke. Their last album, "Rushes," came out a decade ago.
McCartney, 66, has a reputation for crafting sugary pop ballads and rock standards, but has recorded more experimental music, during and after his Beatles years. They include two other Fireman albums, a collaboration with Youth and the group Super Furry Animals, and one-man band record "McCartney II."
"Chinese Democracy" has aroused interest because of its notoriety; it is the first album of new Guns N' Roses material in more than 17 years, and has taken nearly as long to finish.
The band built its reputation on its hit debut "Appetite for Destruction" and "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II," but tension among members led to all of the original members but Rose, 46, leaving.
Getting more members and advertisers is critical to MySpace, especially as the world financial crisis hammers corporate budgets.
News Corp cut its fiscal 2009 operating income forecast earlier this month to a low- to mid-teen percentage drop because of deteriorating ad sales, compared with a previous estimate of 4 percent to 6 percent growth.
It is hard to say how many new users will be attracted to MySpace by The Fireman and Guns N' Roses albums, MySpace president Tom Anderson said. He added that there have been millions of plays for launches of any significant band.
Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Toni Reinhold