NBC plans first music CD for sweeps miniseries

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NBC has partnered with Mercury Records to offer a compact disc entitled "The 60's," the sound track to a miniseries of the same name set to air on the network during the February sweeps.

The 14-track disc, containing rock 'n' roll standards from a number of baby-boomer favorites, features a new recording of rock icon Bob Dylan's classic "Chimes of Freedom," sung by Mr. Dylan and pop diva Joan Osborne. The song is featured during the end credits of the miniseries.

"Music is an area we definitely think has a tremendous upside and plan to do more with," said David Eun, VP-NBC Enterprises.


Mercury will use direct-response commercials on cable TV to sell the album, according to Michael Kramer, Mercury's senior VP-marketing. Selected promos for the miniseries on NBC will be tagged with information about how to get the disc, Mr. Eun said, and an area connected to NBC.com will be used to sell the CD to cybershoppers.

Immediately after the Feb. 7-8 airings of the miniseries, a toll-free number will be given offering for sale a videotape of the show - produced by NBC Studios and released by Polygram Television - and the CD.

In a first for the network, NBC is a profit participant in the CD project with Mercury, whose parent, Polygram Music, was recently bought by Seagram Co.


Word of the NBC project comes just as a CD in which CBS is a profit participant "'Touched by an Angel': The Album," on the Sony Music Soundtrax label has gone platinum, with 1 million units sold.

The only promotion the network has done for the album, the initial CD release of CBS Consumer Products, were a few promos at the end of the hit series. CBS has a long history with the recording industry; it owned Columbia Records, which was sold to Sony Corp. of America.

In a deal without profit participation, NBC helped sell Jewel's new CD, "Spirit," in a venture with Time Warner's Atlantic Records. The album was promoted on the network with a toll-free number after Jewel's appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in November, and NBC also created an online site to sell the CD in a package with a music video and CD-ROM.

Atlantic ran a page ad in People promoting Jewel's appearance on the NBC late-night show.

"We're slowly developing direct response," Mr. Eun said. "Through selling home video, books and now music, we're doing lots of trials and learning a lot. We're building an expertise in e-commerce as well."

Mr. Eun said NBC wants to develop more music products around two of its signature properties, "Saturday Night Live," which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary during the 1999-2000 TV season, and its Saturday morning teen lineup, branded TNBC or Teen NBC.

NBC Studios has an ownership stake in that programming, except for Saturday's "NBA Inside Stuff."

"We see a lot of potential in the consumer dollars spent by the [12-to-17-year-old] audience, which is our Teen NBC target," Mr. Eun noted. "The mantra here is use our strengths to build successful ancillary businesses and new revenue models."

Copyright January 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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