CAMPAIGNS: MUSIC PR - Star uses Napster for Princely score

Client: Napster (Redwood City, CA) and Prince and the NPG Music Club

(Minneapolis)

PR Team: Girlie Action Media (New York) and Susan Blond (New York)

Campaign: "The Work - Pt. 1"

Time Frame: April - May 2001

Budget: Less than dollars 30,000



Not all artists are quick to jump on the anti-Napster train sputtering

through Congress and the court of public opinion these days. The artist

currently known as Prince recently tapped into the 70 million strong

Napster community to debut a new single, while also looking to usher

traffic to his own online outlet.



The debut did more than raise the purple majesty's profile. It provided

Napster with a much-needed high-profile ally.



Strategy



The rules are changing in the music industry, forcing artists to find

alternative promotion sources. Facing an industry fight to get air time

for his album Play, Moby eventually granted over 800 commercial licenses

for the songs on the album. Sting, always a bankable star, needed a

Jaguar commercial to kick-start sales of his Desert Rose single.



Prince has released a number of cyber-singles in the past through his

own Web site, but this is the first time he has teamed up with a digital

music company to promote his music.



"What record companies don't really understand is that Napster is just

one illustration of the growing frustration over how much the record

companies control what music people get to hear," Prince says.



Interested in generating buzz for his album The Rainbow Children, due

out later this year, and also drive traffic to his subscription-based

online music service, The NPG Music Club, Prince approached Napster

several weeks before the April 6 debut of The Work - Pt.1. The debut

would coincide with the second round of US Senate Judiciary Committee

hearings on digital music.



"Napster's goal, as it's been with the Featured Artist Program, has been

to show that major artists like Prince are interested in working with

Napster, " says Jill Mango, head of new media at Girlie Action Media,

which handles Napster's PR. "They also want to show that Napster is a

valuable promotional tool for artists."



Tactics



Napster prominently featured promotional material of the debut on its

homepage, as well as information on sharing the song and a link to

Prince's NPG Music Club (http://www. npgmusicclub.com).



In the days approaching the debut, Napster's "Girlies" circulated press

releases and began a media outreach campaign to rouse interest among

music and entertainment journalists.



Results



Mango explains there's no way to measure usage, as Napster is a

peer-to-peer online service. However, reports filtering out of NPG

headquarters following the debut report that traffic to Prince's site

jumped over 1,000%.



On the Congressional front, Napster and Prince's site both garnered

media hits.



"The cross-over appeal obviously helped promote both," says Mango.

"Music and entertainment journalists were going to cover the hearings,

but to have a major artist basically endorsing Napster added that much

more interest to the story."



Most major news outlets either reported the story themselves, or picked

up either the AP or Reuters accounts. Meanwhile, entertainment and music

outlets from Access Hollywood to E! Entertainment to MTV News all ran

segments.



Future



"Prince has a relationship with Napster," says Mango. "I don't know when

they'll work together, but I have a feeling they will work together in

the future."



And how has the promotional power of Napster fared since the

hearings?



Little known Icelandic band Sigur Ros made Svefn G Englar, a song from

the band's US debut album Agaetis Byrjun, available for sharing Friday,

May 18th. In subsequent interviews, band members have credited Napster

with their wild early buzz.



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