Late to Web, myLaunch buys Firefly's music site

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Harnessing the power of Firefly Network's popular music site, CD-ROM zine Launch is throwing open its Web doors Oct. 21 with a site called myLaunch.

myLaunch has purchased Firefly's Big Note music site, which has 11 million artist ratings and 2 million album reviews stockpiled from users since early 1996. The purchase price was not disclosed.


"Our goal was to acquire their traffic and make their technology an organic part of our site," said Robert Roback, president of Launch, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based company that began publishing the alternative rock CD-ROM in '95. Firefly sold Big Note to focus on its software products.

MyLaunch charter advertisers are Lee Apparel's Lee Jeans, ABC, Gateway 2000 and Intel Corp., which is working to help integrate the site with the CD-ROM, which is moving to a monthly release in '98 from its current bi-monthly release.

One of the Web site's strongest selling points is that it's part of the Firefly Network, using Firefly's profiling management software Passport Office and its recommendation engine Catalogue Navigator, which is used by sites such as MyYahoo!

CPMS OF $25-$100

Users have to register for myLaunch, which is set up to create personalized home pages and a catalog of music selections. This allows myLaunch to sell targeted advertising with rates upwards of its base $25 per thousand impressions to $100 CPM for very specific targeted ads, Mr. Roback said.

"This is our first step on the Web," Mr. Roback added, explaining that Launch experimented with a promotional tie-in site linked to the CD-ROM.

Launch's CD-ROM circulation is 200,000, mostly young male rock fans. But on the Web, Mr. Roback explained, the personalization components can expand its audience to any music genres without alienating its core audience.


After successfully advertising on the Launch CD-ROM, ABC signed on for myLaunch, said Kris Coontz, VP-advertising at ABC. "We see the new Web site as an extension of that," he said, adding, "It's obviously available to a lot more people."

While music sites battle for Web real estate, it might surprise some that myLaunch is not blowing its CD sales into a retail center. "We offer it as a service to our registered users," Mr. Roback said, explaining that it uses a fulfillment company to fill orders, but in the future would rather outsource sales to commerce partners.

"Our goal is to capture retail royalties on someone else's sales," he said.

While it seems late to be starting a Web site, Seema Williams, an analyst at Forrester Research, said absorbing Big Note gives myLaunch a good start. "It establishes them fast online," Ms. Williams said. MyLaunch's semisophisticated advertising roster and its ability to target ads is also going to help the site, she added.


To turn a profit though, myLaunch also might want to explore selling its user data to record companies for market research, and definitely exploit commerce opportunities, Ms. Williams said. Commerce is "one of those things that absolutely has to be there," Ms. Williams said.

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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