Massive Attack will preview their new album on the internet 24 days before its retail release...

Massive Attack will make their new album, ‘Mezzanine’, available in its entirety on the internet nearly a month before it goes on sale in the shops. It will steadily appear in stages in a ground-breaking 24-day ‘countdown’ to retail release on April 13.

It’s the first time a major label artist has allowed an entire album to be available on the internet before its retail release. NME.com readers will be able to access Massive Attack’s UK-based album site from a link on our home page. Virgin Records say the Massive Attack site will only be accessible via this link for the countdown period, which will also appear on selected other music websites.

The specially-designed countdown page will be online from Friday, March 20, kicking off with 45 seconds of ‘Teardrop’, the first single to be released from the album, plus visuals from the ‘Mezzanine’ sleeve concept. Three days later, the full-length audio version of ‘Teardrop’ will be onsite, along with a 30-second excerpt from the track’s video, plus 45-second excerpts from each of the 11 tracks on the album.

On March 30 – 14 days before ‘Mezzanine’ hits the shops – the full-length album will be on the site, accompanied by the full version of the ‘Teardrop’ video. The countdown ends on April 13 with the album’s release and the website will be “open to the public”.

The ‘Mezzanine’ website will use Real Video and Real Audio streaming. Previously, major labels have faught shy of making material by their biggest acts available on the net, although Virgin did upload The Verve’s ‘Urban Hymns’ onto the net after its release. Sony Music have uploaded remixes by Jamiroquai and pop act Jimmy Ray onto their website.