BMG E-Mail Is Music to Fans' Ears

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Wanting to alert fans to its hottest new releases, BMG Entertainment is slated today to e-mail 15-second music samples to the thousands of music buffs who visit its three genre-based Web sites.


The latest songs and album snapshots of various artists -- including Natalie Imruglia, A Tribe Called Quest and BR5-49 -- will hit an undisclosed number of names culled from BMG's consumer database. The database includes visitors to www.bugjuice.com, BMG's alternative and rock music site; www.peeps.com, its urban music site; and www.twangthis.com, its country music site.


"I get a lot of e-mails that I delete without opening, even if I know it's from music retailers. But if you know that the e-mail sings at you, you might be less apt to delete it," said Howie Singer, chief technology officer at a2b music, AT&T's online music delivery division that is providing the new technology behind the campaign.


Recipients who open the message will be able to click a "play" button and listen to part of the song and click on the album photograph to link to more information on the artist.


BMG Entertainment, New York, the $6.3 billion entertainment division of media company Bertelsmann AG, also will use a2b's digital delivery system to offer free full-length downloads of new releases from such BMG artists as Big Punisher, Eve 6 and Alabama.


"The No. 1 job of a music company is to get people to buy more albums," Singer said. "We are trying to use this new technology to do a better job of that."


Tower Records will be the exclusive retailer for the BMG promotion. Consumers can purchase the full-length CDs of the featured artists at any Tower Records location in the United States; online at the Tower Records' Web site; or through Tower Records' toll-free hotline.


A2b has partnered with other music companies to use its digital music delivery technology to highlight such artists as Tori Amos, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Walsh, SWV, Gravity Kills and, most recently, Bonnie Raitt. Last month, Tower Records began selling a limited edition CD-ROM that includes three bonus songs, an interview with Raitt, a biography, a music video and the a2b music digital player needed to listen to the extra tracks. The bonus CD-ROM was specially packaged with copies of Raitt's new full length CD, "Fundamental."


In order to play the bonus tracks, consumers must register at a2b's site by providing their names, year of birth and e-mail addresses. They then download a digital key that unlocks the song licenses and allows for an unlimited number of plays. The customer's registration data is collected by Raitt's record company, Capitol Records, for future direct marketing efforts.


"If you went to a Tower Record store, the record label has no way of knowing who you are. In this case, because you have registered for the download, you identify yourself to the record company," Singer said. "That is certainly a valuable asset to them, whether it's fans of the Verve Pipe or Tori Amos. I think we are going to see more and more of this. Record companies have not done a lot of marketing because traditionally in the bricks-and-mortar retail world, they didn't know who bought their albums."
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