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Do Depeche Mode, Sonic Youth & Josh Freese have the secret to album sales?

With album sales continually tanking, artists are getting more and more creative about how to get fans to shell out for their releases and it's not just the Radiohead/NIN freebie-or-pay-what-you-want models. It's a bunch of new models where fans get extra for paying extra.

Here's how iTunes made the announcement of the exclusive goodies that they were giving away with the new Depeche Mode album:

"Get new music and special bonus content from your favorite artists delivered as soon as it's available with the purchase of an iTunes Pass. The first iTunes Pass includes Sounds of the Universe, the upcoming new album from Depeche Mode, plus extended singles, remixes, videos, and more, which will be released over the next few months. Buy an iTunes Pass today and the band's new single "Wrong" plus the Black Light Odyssey dub remix of "Oh Well" will begin to download immediately."

Sounds good, right? But then comes the fine print. "Pass contents are subject to change without notice." Ouch. So, what does that mean? Well, you probably find out after the fact. Also, you're told "This pass is active and it is scheduled to end on June 16, 2009." What happens on that date? Is all the material still available to you after that date if you've paid up before then?

Even with these caveats, it's still enticing to fans, even if the material has already started leaking out. What will be interesting to see is the sales figures that Apple logs for this promotion.

This kind of bonus idea to give the fans a little more for their purchase is definitely catching on. No Doubt is offering a deal where if you buy premiere seats to their shows, you get to download their whole catalog. It's a nice idea but wouldn't the fans who were paying for the top dollar seats already have their whole catalog? Maybe some other nice little extras would have been in order. Again, the proof will be in the sales figures that they'll see for these primo seats.

Even indie heroes Sonic Youth are getting in on the deal. If you pre-order their upcoming Matador debut, you get a bunch of goodies from Rough Trade shops, Other Music and additional outlets, including: "stream of the album before release date, a limited edition live lp from a sonic youth gig in battery park nyc, an exclusive poster contained inside the vinyl and additional exclusive mp3's."

For purchase bonuses though, good luck trying to beat drummer Josh Freese (Devo, A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails). His extensive list of bonuses come with various prices, including $10,000 for his car, $20,000 for a round of golf and $75,000 which gets JF joining your band, a limo ride, five songs about you, lasagna and more! Gwen and Thurston aren't offering that up now, are they? (P.S. JF sold the golf date)

And just think of the future possibilities with other releases and bonuses offered. Bono waxing your car. Springsteen fixing your roof. Neil Young unclogging your john. Jay Z mowing your lawn. Lil Wayne delivering you a pizza. Kenny Chesney getting leaves outta your rain gutter. Taylor Swift running errands for you. Finally, our favorite superstars can make a real impact in our lives and all we gotta do is buy their albums or show up to their shows. Seems like a fair trade off, doesn't it?

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