Client: Napster (Redwood City, CA) and Prince and the NPG Music Club
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.
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."
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.
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
"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
"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
And how has the promotional power of Napster fared since the
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.