Apple exclusively streaming new David Bowie album on iTunes through March 12

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David Bowie fans got an unexpected surprise on Thursday, as the artist's first album in 10 years became available for free streaming on Apple's iTunes.

The Next Day is Bowie's first album since 2003's Reality, and it was announced as something of a surprise. Bowie on January 8 (his birthday) dropped a video for a new song entitled "Where Are We Now," with no prior indication that he was working on new material.

A video for the album's second single, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" debuted earlier this week with a new music video. That video, directed by Floria Sigismondi, stars Bowie and Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton as a married couple whose lives are disrupted by a celebrity couple.

Pre-orders for The Next Day have grabbed the album the top spot on the iTunes charts in 34 countries. In the United States, the album had a Top 5 debut. It is set for release on March 12. The Next Day will be available to stream on iTunes until its release.

iTunes streaming has become a popular means of generating publicity for high-profile albums before their release. Previous artists to stream full albums over iTunes include Matchbox 20, Jack White, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.