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Label Seeks to Seeif Fans Are Burning to Get Music Videos

November 01, 2001|Jon Healey

The major record labels have tried with little or no success to sell downloadable songs that can't be saved on a disc or moved to most portable devices. But EMI Group's Virgin Records is trying something new, letting consumers download a Lenny Kravitz music video they can burn onto a CD.

The video for Kravitz's "Dig It," available only from http://www.mtv.com and http://www.vh1.com, is wrapped in a security layer that prevents it from being copied freely. But anyone with Roxio's Easy CD Creator software, which is bundled with most CD recorders, can burn the video onto a CD and play it on any computer's CD-ROM drive.

The catch is if you try to copy the file from the CD onto a different computer, it won't play. Instead, you'll be asked to download a new electronic key or the entire video.

The label is providing the video free for 90 days to anyone willing to divulge his or her e-mail address. The payoff for the label, said Virgin's Ty Braswell, is in identifying Lenny Kravitz fans for future pitches. But the promotion also will give Virgin a sense of how big the market might be for selling downloadable videos.

The labels sell artists' videos today as 60-minute collections, not singles. That means waiting until after most of the clips in the package have aged past the expiration date of their buzz. Braswell said the label is betting that people will pay for a video if it's offered right away for downloading--provided they can cart it around and show it to their friends.

After all, Braswell said, the main reason people download music is to share it, not just to have it in their collections.

"What we have to do as an industry," he said, "is figure out a way to get paid."

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