USA Today
April 28, 1999

Added May 1, 1999


There is a second article online at the USA Today web site about the upcoming tour with Tori and Alanis. (The first was on April 26, 1999.) This article gives more details on how MP3.COM will promote the tour.


Artists go online to 'stream' songs

By Bruce Haring, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES In a small but significant step toward more music by major recording artists on the Internet, Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos will broadcast new songs to fans via the Internet as part of a tour promotion, their agents said Tuesday.

Morissette and Amos will deliver several live versions of their songs and B-sides of singles in a "streaming" format, which allows computer users to listen free if they're on the Net but keeps them from saving songs to a hard drive or portable device.

So far, most professional recording artists and labels have been reluctant to post music on the Net, citing fears of piracy and lost revenue.

The biggest players in Net music have been unknown bands, giving away their music to gain exposure and further sales.

That's also the aim of the Morissette and Amos experiment, which will promote their tour by offering ticket purchases in advance of the general public sale and by hosting chats. And the artists, their managers and their record companies hope to capitalize on the marketing savvy of one of the Internet's biggest perceived outlaws.

The sites hosting the unspecified number of Morissette and Amos songs will be custom-designed by MP3.com, which is sponsoring the stars' upcoming tour with electronics retailer Best Buy. The sites likely will launch within two weeks and offer the songs until the tour starts Aug. 18.

MP3.com specializes in digital downloads of legitimately licensed music in the MP3 sound compression format. But its outspoken support for the format, a favorite of people who post pirated songs from CDs, has angered many in the record industry.

While MP3.com will not directly present the songs at its own site and will not be permitted to offer them via its specialty, the unencrypted digital download, the link with Morissette and Amos provides credibility. That's something the company is attempting to build before an expected initial public offering of stock in July.

MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson says he isn't disappointed that the songs will be streamed rather than downloadable. As for fans, "as long as consumers have access to the music, that's all they care about," he says.

Previously, the Time Warner-owned labels that signed Morissette and Amos have limited streaming songs by third parties to 30-second clips and full concerts and allowed downloads only to systems with copyright security.

So the move to allow entire new songs by popular artists to be streamed to fans by a third party marks a small but significant change in thinking by the recording industry.

Even with that change, there was disappointment that the effort didn't go far enough. Anticipation had been heightened by reports that Time Warner would permit digital downloads fans could keep.

The somewhat conservative announcement accents the industry's unease with cyberspace, an attitude on display Saturday at a conference sponsored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in New York.

The conference, which included representatives from many of the industry's leading trade organizations, highlighted the cultural clash between artists clamoring for the financial benefits they believe will come with digital distribution and the industry bureaucracy.

"The music industry won't support Liquid Audio, a2b or MP3," said musician and Net pioneer Thomas Dolby Robertson, referring to various formats. "They won't cede control. Right now, we have a great system for them, and one that (rips off) the artists."

Robertson's remark drew hearty applause from the crowd, about half of them artists. In turn, many catcalled, hissed and laughed at statements from industry panelists who said they were protecting artists' rights and revenues; the response cut short many of their remarks.


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