Rhapsody Rallies Madonna Pre-Release; Big Spending Ahead

Rhapsody has now secured a juicy Madonna exclusive in the United States, according to details shared with Digital Music News on Thursday.

The track, “4 Minutes,” is the lead single ahead of the April release, Hard Candy.  The album will be the last for Madonna under Warner Music Group before the superstar exits for Live Nation.

The song, which features Justin Timberlake and production by Timbaland, can be streamed gratis from rhapsody.com or through the Rhapsody subscription application.  Die-hard Madonna fans are already swapping pre-release leaks, though the unauthorized downloads are of grainy quality.  An authorized download is also available to Vodafone subscribers in Europe, and ringtones are coming next week.

For Rhapsody, a joint venture involving RealNetworks and MTV Networks, the pre-release splash is designed to raise awareness and bump subscriber levels.  The partners are tapping advertising specialists Droga5 and Publicis US on a refreshed campaign, a $230 million, five-year initiative and according to AdWeek.