Offspring Offers Free Downloads, $1 Million Prize

Sept. 15, 2000 -- The Offspring’s new single may be called “Original Prankster,” but the band has concocted a scheme to promote the ditty — and the forthcoming album Conspiracy of One — that’s no joke.

In fact, it could be the biggest news yet in the history of free downloads. On Sept. 29, the Southern California punk act will make “Original Prankster”available for download in MP3 format — at no charge — via and a host of other sites. Then, in October, the complete contents of Conspiracy of One will also be free for the taking.

But wait — there’s more! Users who download tracks from the album will automatically be entered in a contest to win a million dollars. The lucky recipient will be disclosed on a live MTV broadcast on Nov. 14, the official retail release date for the disc.

And no, the $1 million isn’t part of some major-label promotional blitz; it’s coming out of the band’s own pockets. “This money came directly to us from our fans,”said singer Dexter Holland in a statement posted today at the band’s official Web site.

Band Wants to Support Fans “We feel it would be cool to redirect it back to them. We are trying to launch our album with promotions that are fan supportive rather than fan exploitative. We feel that by giving them our music and letting them have back some of their money is a great way to show how much they mean to us”

The Offspring is notorious for its support of free downloads. “The Offspring view MP3 technology and programs such as Napster as being a vital and necessary means to promote music and foster better relationships with our fans,”reads a statement at the band’s site.

That stance has paid off, too. A free MP3 of the group’s 1998 hit single “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)”was downloaded more than 22 million times in a 10 week period prior to the release it’s last album, Americana, which went on to sell 10.5 million copies worldwide.

So if you can download the album for free, why buy a finished version? Because the actual CD features new technology that when launched, allows the owner special access to The Offspring Nation, a digital fan club offering loads of band-related bonuses: gated chats, advance ticket sales, concert info, animated clips, and, yup, exclusive downloads.

“We decided we would create a super fan club for those of our fans who actually buy our CD,”said Holland. “We figure since we make our music available to everyone for free this will act as a special acknowledgement to our fans who go to the trouble to buy our CD.”