RCA's E-Mail Album Promo Rocks With Response

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RCA Music Group's first foray into rich media e-mail marketing to promote the Dave Matthews Band's new album paid off with an open rate of 30 percent.

To preview the Feb. 27 release of "Everyday," the band's first album in three years, RCA sent 500,000 e-mails on Feb. 1 to registered members of the band's Web site, its paid fan club, lists from two music retailers and fans who agreed to receive information on the album during the band's summer 2000 tour.

Developed by RadicalMail, Los Angeles, the e-mail includes a 45-second video of the Dave Matthews Band rehearsing in the studio and talking about making the new album, as well as a link to download "I Did It," the single from the new album.

Five days after the start of the campaign, 150,000 fans had opened the e-mails. "Everything is pointing to success," said Kieve Huffman, director of Internet marketing at RCA Music Group.

Fans also can click a button in the e-mail that takes them to the band's site to pre-order the album. Pre-ordering also includes a reward -- a private URL that allows fans to download behind-the-scenes videos, a medley of three of the band's songs, a digital postcard, digital wallpaper, photos and news about the band.

In the first week, Huffman said, tens of thousands of pre-orders had been placed on the site. Although the primary goal was to raise awareness, he said, the pre-order success is a nice side benefit.

"A very rare percentage of CD sales occur online: 5 [percent] to 6 percent or so," he said. "We may have a much greater percentage because of this campaign."

The campaign apparently held the interest of recipients who opened it. Huffman said fans viewed the promotion for an average of six minutes.

Huffman said relying exclusively on outside lists made it difficult to assess the quality of the e-mail addresses before mailing. Still, the initial success of the campaign proved that rich media e-mails are an effective way to reach record labels' target audiences, he said.

"We wanted to make one big splash and prove to everyone that this is a real valuable tool," Huffman said.

The Dave Matthews Band also boasted that it is the first major label act to make a song available on Napster with the label's permission.

The deal likely stems from Napster's agreement with Bertelsmann AG, the parent company of BMG -- which is RCA's parent company -- to develop a copyright-friendly version of Napster.

The band was also reacting to several "poor-quality" recordings of the single that were taped off the radio and appeared on Napster.

"Dave Matthews Band was happy to hear of Napster users' enthusiasm for 'I Did It' but wants to make certain that DMB fans listening to the song via the Internet also have access to a high-quality MP3 file that sounds as the band intended," the band said in a statement. Napster users can also link directly to the Dave Matthews Band Web site.

"Dave Matthews Band maintains a very close relationship with their fans, and Napster offers a simple vehicle to spread the word that their latest studio album is on the way," said Milton Olin, chief operating officer at Napster.

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