Billboard Magazine Article
December 20, 1997

Web Event Features Amos Vids

Billboard Magazine
December 20, 1997

1st Pay-Per-View Venture To Benefit Charity

LOS ANGELES--In a charitable effort aimed at raising funds for the Washington, D.C.-based Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), Atlantic Records artist Tori Amos will open up her music video catalog to consumers for the first-ever online pay-per-view charity event.

Beginning Thursday (18), users making a one-time minimum $5 donation to RAINN will have unlimited access to view via video-streaming technology 14 Amos music videos, including a clip for "Cornflake Girl" never before shown in the U.S., during a four-week period.

Amos, who serves as a chairperson on RAINN"s board, says, "Ever since RAINN was started I have seen the incredible help it has given people. When I was approached to tie the Internet in with RAINN, I was thrilled, because I know how valuable the Internet is to people who may not be able to get information otherwise, and it also provides them with an avenue to reach out for the help that they need."

The charity drive, dubbed Onstage With RealAid, will be hosted by Atlantic at and Seattle-based RealNetworks at

The latter company, which specializes in online video and audio streaming, initiated the project in part to help showcase its new RealSystem 5.0 Commerce Solution, which is tailored to make on-demand and live online events secure and functional.

According to RealNetworks executive producer of music services Chris Otto, the pairing with Amos was a natural extension from previous collaborations with the artist.

Before the commercial release of her single "Caught A Lite Sneeze," for example, Amos allowed RealNetworks to debut the song on the Internet via the company"s earlier RealAudio 2.0 technology.

Earlier this year, RealNetworks also promoted RAINN on WebActive, its site dedicated to political activism.

Meanwhile, Atlantic head of multimedia (U.S.) Nikke Slight says that the project seemed an ideal way of promoting art and activism.

"Tori is immensely popular on the (World Wide) Web, and we wanted very much to work with RealNetworks to bring this great opportunity to RAINN, which is a cause close to Atlantic"s heart and Tori"s," says Slight. "We"re also able to provide unique material to Tori"s fans as well, so it"s a win-win. The timing was right with the holiday season, Tori is the right artist, and this is certainly the right cause."

Slight says Atlantic and RAINN will promote the event online. Atlantic will concentrate on its label pages, electronic newsletters, and online bulletin boards and news groups, as well as traditional fliers.

While the future applications of online pay-per-view may have widespread potential in the music industry and elsewhere, the concept is still in its infancy.

One other project that has been confirmed is Sony"s bid to use pay-per-play technology as part of a new, still-in-development online video and audio jukebox (Billboard, June 21).

"To be frank, doing this (through a nonprofit) skirts around some of the precedent-setting issues that record labels are going through in terms of how to do (online pay-per-view), and it"s a great way of showing that this has value," says Otto. "There are people online interested in this kind of content, and this event will hopefully prove some of the concepts behind this and its viability as a way of generating new business."

For Atlantic"s part, Slight says, the label is carefully eyeing the event. "We don"t have any plans for the immediate future, but I"m sure we"ll be watching with interest," she says. "Right now, this seems to be the best approach."

To prevent unauthorized access to Onstage With RealAid, users must register before viewing to receive a password. Since each RealPlayer unit, which allows the streaming of video and audio, is specific to every computer user, passwords can"t be shared. And since streamed content cannot be downloaded, users will not be able to store the material on their hard drives for the purposes of repeated viewing or copying.

Donations will be allowed by means of online credit card transactions.

(c) BPI Communications, 1997 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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