Online Marketing - AOL Music deal: customized Britney

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She's young, hot and living on AOL Time Warner's AOL Music channel.

"She" is Britney Spears, pop star du jour, snagged by AOL Music last fall for a multifaceted and exclusive online-marketing deal. The deal created a customized content area on AOL Music that features a dedicated radio station, live chat, access to songs, interviews, concert-tour information, the artist's Pepsi-Cola ads, backstage diary entries and more. AOL Music added another element to the mix via the "Pepsi Backstage Sweepstakes" promoting Ms. Spears' Pepsi-sponsored summer concert tour. The sweeps, which goes live today at AOL Keyword: Pepsi Backstage, offers fans the chance to win concert tickets and access unique content. Pepsi has closely tied offline advertising and retail marketing to the online sweeps on AOL Music.

Pepsi isn't the only marketer delving into the AOL Music world. WorldCom Group's MCI 1-800-Collect brand also tied to Britney on AOL Music with a "Make the Right Call" sweepstakes. Entrants earn chances to win concert tickets by making collect calls. Burger King Corp. tapped AOL Music to create interactive promotions through "BK Backstage," a site on burgerking.com and AOL music sites where aficionados can access behind-the-scenes music and video, free downloads and other extras.

AOL Music's ambitions go beyond Britney. The online music venue, which earlier this year signed a similar pact with boy band `Nsync, wants to create customized-content packages for marketers around other artists. Executives say they are in discussions with fast-food, consumer-electronics, retail, package-goods and automotive marketers to create such programming.

connections

"The Britney AOL Music relationship is an example of how we can take programming that appeals to consumers and use it to connect to marketers," said Scott Schiller, senior VP-interactive marketing, music and filmed entertainment.

Mr. Schiller said the Britney deal was the first of its kind for AOL Music and typifies the kinds of relationships it's trying to forge with marketers. Formed a year ago, AOL Music has a dedicated programming team that packages artists within several different platforms and matches them with appropriate marketers. The division works closely with Warner Music Group.

AOL Music ties programs such as "Music Firsts," which features downloadable music and videos of emerging artists, to a sponsoring marketer. Other programs include "Artist of the Month" and "First Listen," a venue for debuts.

"We've got a few things that really drive us, making sure the experience that we're offering is really unique to the medium," Kevin Conroy, president-AOL Music, said. "Our mission is always to create an experience that goes well beyond what's available on television, to take advantage of the three-dimensional nature of the medium."

Even established artists can reap gains from exposure on AOL Music. Alanis Morissette premiered new single, "Hands Clean," on it a day before radio release; the single racked up 525,000 digital streams.

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