April 24, 2001 5:15 PM PDT

MP3.com cozies up to big labels

Internet music provider MP3.com said Tuesday it will market an up-and-coming band for music company EMI Recorded Music as it seeks to become a promotional vehicle for the big record labels.

San Diego, Calif.-based MP3.com said U.K. band Starsailor has agreed to provide MP3.com with exclusive content as part of its deal with EMI:Chrysalis. MP3.com said it will promote the band's new CD single, "Good Souls," in the United Kingdom and provide a track not available on the CD.

MP3.com has been humming a new tune in its quest for profits. Once primarily known as a place where unsigned artists could improve their chances of being discovered, the company is cozying up to record labels and promoting headline acts.

"It's a natural progression," said P.J. McNealy, an analyst at research firm Gartner. "There's more money to be made working with the majors--plain and simple--and also it's a validation of their previous work."

MP3.com said its deal with EMI is its first promotion with a major record label in the United Kingdom, although it has inked similar marketing agreements with other labels in the United States.

Early this year, the company promoted vocalist Dido in the United States through its targeted e-mail marketing service, dubbed singleserving.

MP3.com Chief Executive Michael Robertson said the company maintains a profile of its 50 million members, including information about where they live and the style of music they like, and sends out e-mails to targeted groups of music listeners about particular artists. Singleserving also streams a full-length radio edit of musicians' singles, encoded in MP3 format.

"We really look at ourselves as being a promotional vehicle for bands," Robertson said. "It just so happens that three years ago only the small, independent bands were really the ones who wanted to use the Internet in a proactive way, but obviously the major records have significant marketing and promotion budgets...it's really important for us to work with them and get a part of those marketing dollars."

Under the deal with EMI, Robertson said MP3.com will add Starsailor's album to its Beam-it service, which allows an individual to place a collection of already purchased music in a My.MP3.com account. Robertson said the company is also promoting the band via a Web page.

"What's unique here, is you're combining what up until now has been two separate worlds," Robertson said. "There's been the online digital world, and there's been the offline physical CD world. What we're doing with the promotion is...melting those two worlds into one experience."

 

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