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"The Net is currently a great resource for fans and an effective vehicle for artists to communicate directly to their consumers. However, we're probably several years away from being able to monetize these relationships."
——DreamWorks' Johnny Barbis
THIS BYTES: SELLING MUSIC
ON THE NET
Record Execs Get All Up in the Net, Use Words Like "Monetize," "Viral"
By now, you’ve probably read more than enough hype about what the Net means and could mean and will mean to music. Unfortunately, most of said speculation has come from people with Net-related ventures who have something to sell. So it’s time to ask people who face the daunting day-to-day task of selling records to weigh in.

Considering all the gloom-and-doom you’ve been hearing lately, the label folks we talked to voiced an upbeat—albeit cautious—position about the financial potential of the Net.

"I think we will sell music electronically," UMG chief Doug Morris ventured in a recent interview with our own Marc Pollack, "but I don’t think anyone knows when that will be." Added Morris, "As it becomes more consumer-oriented, it will become a larger stream of revenue."

DreamWorks senior exec Johnny Barbis agrees: "The Net is currently a great resource for fans and an effective vehicle for artists to communicate directly to their consumers," he admits. "However, we're probably several years away from being able to monetize these relationships."

J Records EVP Worldwide Marketing and Sales Tom Corson is bullish on new media, too, within reason. "We still like the Internet," he insists. "Our point of view is that the Net is the most efficient marketing tool that’s come along since video, if managed correctly. It is significant when it works as a viral element, to get the right people talking and e-mailing about your record—building or maximizing a community."

Where this "viral element" is concerned, record guys clearly get it. "We’re using the Internet as a cost-saving tool to expose new music via MP3 mixtapes, video premieres and targeted newsletters," notes Def Jam/Def Soul President Kevin Liles. "We are solidifying our brands by engaging hip-hop aficionados with our artists on a one-to-one basis on both Defjam.com and artist sites. At the same time, we are looking towards the future and hope to start generating revenue on our sites soon."

We’ll have more from these and other decision-makers next week.

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