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Paul McCartney has gone from hit-maker to hit-getter.
The former Beatles member has released his world-premiere video for a yet-to-be-released album on YouTube in the latest sign that recording artists are increasingly reaching out directly to their fans through the Internet, In just over a day, the video generated more than 201,000 hits.
"With its community of millions of worldwide users, YouTube is the leader in online video, and the premier destination to watch and share original videos through a Web experience," McCartney said in a statement on his Web site. "The video for 'Dance Tonight' will be featured and promoted through the 'Director Videos' slots, which sit at the top of the homepage."
The video features the opening track on McCartney's 21st studio album, "Memory Almost Full." The album is scheduled for release June 4 in the United Kingdom and June 5 in the United States.
McCartney filmed the video with Natalie Portman and Mackenzie Crook, with Director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), in the United Kingdom. The video shows McCartney playing the mandolin at a kitchen table in front of the delivery man who dropped it off and invited himself inside. Special effects make Portman appear as a ghost rising from the mandolin delivery box to dance around while McCartney strums and sings.
McCartney has also launched a new Memory Almost Full Web site, which includes news, musings, artwork and music.
Other established artists have used the same means that newer, up-and-coming performers use to build and broaden their fan base. Neil Young recently used his MySpace page and his own Web site to release video clips of "Old Man" and "Ohio" recorded at Massey Hall in Toronto in 1971. The site also links to stores where fans can buy CDs or DVDs of "Live At Massey Hall 1971". Young's MySpace page song play counter shows that visitors have played his four featured songs more than 1.5 million times.
Other musicians are using Eventful, a Web site that allows fans to demand a local appearance. Some are beginning to schedule tours based on fans' requests.