Newly Merged AOL Time Warner Will Promote Music

A billion-dollar loss for the parent company may be a big gain for performers under contract to Warner Music Group, who will benefit from cross-promotional efforts aimed at millions of America Online subscribers beginning this month.

The campaign is part of a new corporate agenda for recently merged AOL Time Warner, which finalized its union in January after more than a year of review by federal regulators. The old Time Warner tended to operate its divisions as unrelated independent companies, but will now have all of them working together more cohesively, according to press releases issued in late January. AOL Time Warner reported a loss of more than one billion dollars for the fourth quarter as a result of the merger.

Among the plans to leverage the combined company's new synergy is a campaign to promote Warner Music Group artists directly to AOL subscribers, using AOL's music services Winamp.com and Spinner.com, which offer more than 130 genre-specific channels of music. Beginning this month, AOL will promote new releases from more than a dozen major artists on WMG labels, which include Atlantic, Elektra, London-Sire, and Warner Bros. Such efforts can be enormously successful: Last September, a promotion between Warner Bros. Records and Spinner resulted in Madonna's album Music debuting in the number one spot on the Billboard best-selling album chart.

Artists to be featured in the promotion include Yolanda Adams, Barenaked Ladies, Bjork, Brandy, Tracy Chapman, The Corrs, Craig David, Depeche Mode, Missy Elliott, Jewel, Gerald Levert, Linkin Park, Natalie Merchant, REM, Silk, Staind, Rod Stewart, Sugar Ray, and Vitamin C. Warner Music Group will also give its developing artists new exposure through AOL promotions, according to a company press release. This category includes Jamie Hawkins, Hesher, Jaheim, Billy Jean, The Matthew Good Band, Debelah Morgan, Plus One, Ray-J, Sunshine Anderson, Taproot, and Dante Thomas.

The multi-tiered new promotional campaigns will feature secure downloadable samples of the artists' new recordings. Some complete free tracks will "time out" after 30 days; some new music videos will appear as 30 second "teasers." AOL will also support artist chats and bulletin boards, and will post links to the labels' and artists' websites, the artists' subscription mailing lists, and fan pages and clubs. New releases from Warner Music Group will come bundled with AOL software. "We've had tremendous success with AOL in the past, and we're excited to expand our relationship with this broad new set of promotional tools for our artists," said WMG executive vice president Paul Vidich.

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