MSN Strikes Deal for Live Concerts

Former AOL Partner on Live 8 Moves to Microsoft

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- AOL and its partners at Network Live, the entertainment venture responsible for the hugely successful Live 8 concerts, are going their separate ways. A year into their multiyear production and distribution deal, XM Satellite Radio, concert promoter AEG Live, and AOL have split with Network Live cofounder and CEO Kevin Wall.
Network Live's first show featured Bon Jovi.
Network Live's first show featured Bon Jovi.

Mr. Wall is now taking his operation, renamed Control Room, to MSN, which has signed on to promote and distribute 36 separate live concerts, which will then be available for free and on-demand viewing.

John Legend performance
MSN is kicking off the Oct. 2 launch with an exclusive performance by singer/pianist John Legend live from the Royal Albert Hall in London. The performance of another singer/pianist, John Mayer, will also be streamed to MSN viewers from Webster Hall in New York City.

Live 8, carried on AOL during the summer of 2005, was seen as a defining moment for AOL and the internet -- the event made it clear AOL and other web giants could be legitimate purveyors of entertainment on a grand scale. Some 100 million people viewed video clips on AOL of the concerts staged around the world over a six-week period.

"Since Live 8, we have proven that there is a robust market for a company like ours to change the way live entertainment is consumed," Mr. Wall said.

Model wasn't working
But for all its early success, structural and control issues seem to have come between Mr. Wall and his partners. "The model that was presented was not working," said Erik Flannigan, VP-programming, AOL Music. "Being able to speak to the labels and the artists got harder to do when you had a separate entity striking deals to get commitments."

The multiyear partnership allows Microsoft to stream Control Room programming to its multiple platforms, including Xbox Live, MSN Messenger, Windows Media Player and Windows XP Media Center Edition. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the creation of a unified ad strategy, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, where buyers can manage campaigns across these various channels.

The newly renamed team, which has managed to distribute digitally some 59 events in the past year, expects to maintain existing content distribution relationships with TV, radio, theatrical and retail partners.

In October, AOL Music broadcast a Green Day concert in Los Angeles exclusively. Network Live's first show featured Bon Jovi from the Nokia Theatre in Times Square -- which resulted in first-week album sales of 202,000, according to SoundScan. Prior to the creation of Network Live, AOL Music hosted live performances by Alicia Keys, Coldplay and Kanye West.
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