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Record label offers samples by phone

A small, independent record label, American Gramaphone, is offering customers a chance to listen to albums over the telephone before they buy them. The Omaha record company believes the new "personal preview" service that uses a 900 telephone number is the first of its kind.

"As far as I know, for music and for being able to give people their own choice as to what they are going to be able to hear, there is no one else," said Richard Musil, director of consumer response marketing for American Gramaphone.

A person uses a push-button phone to call a 900 number and gets a recorded message asking the caller to choose one of the 60 albums in American Gramaphone's catalog.

Two selections from the album are played, lasting about a minute each. The caller can listen to excerpts from four albums during each call. A $2 charge is automatically added to the caller's monthly telephone bill.

If the caller buys an album during the call, $2 is deducted from the price of the album.

American Gramaphone is an independent label that is best known for representing the groups Mannheim Steamroller and C.W. McCall.