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"It’s a unique partnership that enables us to create unprecedented awareness with consumers"
——Elektra’s Sylvia Rhone on AOL Music
AOL MUSIC & WMG: SYNERGY 101
Companies Work Together to Help Break Artists
Please open your textbooks to the chapter on AOLTW, class.

As we’ve told you before, America Online’s AOL Music area is a hot property for ramping up the buzz on releases and helping to break new acts—no matter what labels they’re on.

But check out some of the ways Kevin Conroy’s multifaceted online attraction is kicking things up a notch for projects within the WMG family.

For starters, take Elektra’s Tweet, whose debut, Southern Hummingbird, enjoyed a Top Five bow last week, with the second-best debut by a new WMG artist (after Snoop Dogg) in the group’s history. The sultry hip-hop/R&B newcomer was also the subject of a promotion on AOL Music that began in December—prior to the single "Oops (Oh My)" hitting radio or video. The clip for "Oops" premiered on the service, as did streams of songs from the disc.

Tweet got her own AOL keyword, was a DJ on [email protected] and was also promoted on the service’s Artist Discovery Network, [email protected] with Chris Douridas and via a BeatGreets digital e-card. "Phase 2" of the promotion saw the launch of a four-part "Making of an Artist" program with assorted exclusive content.

By the time Hummingbird streeted, AOL had registered over 1.5 million "interactions" with Tweet’s music—including more than 350k streams in the first week.

"AOL Music has been instrumental in the set-up of all our releases, particularly those by new artists," declares Elektra ruler Sylvia Rhone. "It’s a unique partnership that enables us to create unprecedented awareness with consumers—a precursor to every aspect of our total campaign, including our radio efforts, street team roll-out and video initiatives."

Rhone went on to detail a number of Tweet firsts: first new artist to have her own AOL Celebrity Radio Station; first new artist to be part of AOL’s "You’ve Got Mail" campaign; and the first debut artist to gain simultaneous promotion on AOL Music, AOL Teens and AOL Radio.

Both Atlantic’s Brandy and Jewel were also beneficiaries of customized AOL Music campaigns. Brandy’s track and video, "What About Us," got its global premiere on the service, where, in 24 hours, the song had been streamed over 750k times, while the clip was streamed more than 900k times in its first week online. AOL claims 4.8 million total interactions with Brandy’s music in the three months prior to release.

During the week of the Jewel promotion that included an album listening party, the pop-rock starlet’s release hit the top spot on AOL’s CDNow sales chart, based on pre-orders alone. Atlantic credits the AOL push with the disc’s exceeding first-week sales expectations by 40%.

Says Atlantic SVP New Media Nikke Slight, "The scope of our promotions with AOL Music have been tremendously enhanced by the newer AOL 7.0 features like [email protected] and the expanded [email protected], enabling us to tailor campaigns to suit every level, from emerging artist to superstar.

"The ‘First Listen’ promotion helped Atlantic relaunch Brandy both domestically and before AOL's global audience, all within the space of 24 hours. AOL Music sustained the campaign, right through album street date and beyond, resulting in millions of interactions. With Jewel, we took a different approach and worked with the AOL team to utilize practically every component of the service over some three months. Each campaign effectively delivered awareness and anticipation for two artists who had both made significant stylistic changes."

AOL Music also made a difference for Maverick’s Alanis Morissette and singer/songwriter Michelle Branch.

The Alanis promotion included a first listen of the single "Hands Clean" (525k first-week streams), premiere of the video (490k streams in 11 days), "Artist of the Month" honors in February, an album listening party (250k first-week streams) and promotion across AOL properties, resulting in more than 2.5 million total streams.

Branch benefited from more than 5 million impressions prior to her street date, thanks to song and video premieres, features across the service (including AIM Today and Teens) and other AOL properties, her own keyword, chat, photos and more. Following her album’s retail bow, the service continued promoting her and premiered her second single, "All You Wanted." The teen artist’s own web savvy was reportedly the campaign’s secret weapon.

"They got Michelle and what she was about, and said ‘Let us know when you need us,’" marvels Maverick New Media kingpin Jeremy Welt, who asserts that AOL Music’s "depth of impression" on artists’ behalf exceeds MTV in significance. "Kevin Conroy understands the music business. He thinks strategically."

In addition, AOL Music has added further muscle to its enterprise by cross-promoting with AOLTW properties like the HBO, TNT and WB TV networks, Entertainment Weekly, People and Warner Bros. Studios.

"AOL Music is able to expand and reach fans of established artists to drive album sales," proclaims AOL Music VP Marketing, Programming & Promotions Bill Wilson. "We are also proving to the music industry our ability to put our marketing and promotion power behind artists we feel we can help break, like our most recent successes with Tweet and Michelle Branch."

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