BMG joins ‘Net sales act

Conglom bills campaign as industry's largest exclusive music charity event

BMG Entertainment, Liquid Audio and PBS will spend more than $1 million on a marketing campaign to offer songs from the Dave Matthews Band, one of the industry’s biggest acts, over the Internet.

BMG’s first foray into selling digitally downloaded music, the event will test consumers’ interest in purchasing tunes online. It will also mark the first time music from a top-selling artist will be made available for purchase exclusively on the Internet. The conglom is also billing the campaign as the industry’s largest Internet exclusive music charity event.

The campaign will center around the Sept. 29 airing of the PBS spec “In The Spotlight” featuring RCA Records act the Dave Matthews Band. The downloads will become available on the same day. The show will highlight the band’s Sept. 11 concert at the Continental Air Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.

Private tunes

Four songs from the band’s concert — not included in the PBS special — will be offered to Stateside fans for preview or purchase through several Web sites. The tunes will be secure downloads available only in the Liquid Audio digital delivery format.

Each of the four songs, which have yet to be determined, will carry a suggested retail price of $3.49. They will be bundled together as two separate ‘buy one, get one free’ download offers. One of the four will also be available for free, but will be encoded to expire seven days after being downloaded.

“Our goal is to use the broad reach of the Internet to provide millions of music fans with access to exclusive live music … and to bring significant added value to our retail partners,” said Kevin Conroy, senior veep of worldwide marketing at RCA parent BMG Entertainment.

Spurring traffic

The conglom believes offering music from top acts over its Web sites will help spur retail traffic rather than cannibalize it. Currently, just over 98% of the industry’s music is purchased at retail. As a result, labels are careful not to exclude stores from their online efforts.

The campaign will include TV, print, outdoor, radio and online advertising; fan-club based online direct marketing; and broad online distribution to retail Web sites. Major print ads are planned in several top general-interest publications.

Conroy said Liquid Audio was selected over the other available formats because “they are compliant with (industry security) standards, offer excellent sound quality as well as visual presentation and provide full service retail distribution.”

Liquid Audio is already prevalent on the conglom’s Web sites, such as GetMusic.com and BugJuice.com, as well as its artist-specific sites.

Full donation

BMG/RCA and the band will donate all of the proceeds from the digital download to VH1 Save the Music, the music cabler’s pet charity dedicated to improving and restoring music education programs in public schools.