Bob Dylan Gives Away 50,000 Copies of His New Album to AARP The Magazine Readers

Kind of Like U2's iTunes Strategy

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Bob Dylan on the cover of AARP The Magazine.
Bob Dylan on the cover of AARP The Magazine.

Bob Dylan is borrowing a page from U2's playbook to help promote his new album "Shadows in the Night" -- although Mr. Dylan's approach is far more analogue than U2's: The enigmatic singer-songwriter is giving away free copies of his album to readers of AARP Magazine at random.

Last September, U2 teamed up with Apple for the debut of its album "Songs of Innocence," making it available free to half a billion users of Apple's iTunes. That meant the album unexpectedly showed up on iPhone owners' iTunes. The move drew sharp criticism and U2 lead singer Bono ultimately apologized.

Mr. Dylan, however, is sending physical copies of his album via the U.S. mail.

The album -- in compact disc format -- will be inserted randomly into 50,000 copies of the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine, where Mr. Dylan also adorns the cover. The magazine's editor in chief, Bob Love, who was formerly managing editor at Rolling Stone, interviewed Mr. Dylan for the cover story.

"Shadows in the Night," Mr. Dylan's 36th studio album, will be released Feb. 3.

"If it was up to me, I'd give you the records for nothing, and you could give them to [every reader of your] magazine," he says in the interview.

AARP The Magazine is the largest print publication by circulation in the U.S., with nearly 23 million readers through the first six months of 2014, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, which tracks print circulation. The magazine is sent to members of AARP, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of people older than 50. The organization has nearly 38 million members.

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