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One Year Ago: Internet Gives McCartney All-Time Largest Album Promo

By Rob Spiegel
Dec 14, 2000 11:23 AM PT

Originally published on December 15, 1999 and brought to you today as a time capsule.

In an effort to promote sales of his latest record, Paul McCartney made use of the Internet to reach into his past and future all at once.

One Year Ago: Internet Gives McCartney All-Time Largest Album Promo <!--2000-12-14-->

Yesterday, the former Beatle returned to the scene of his earliest musical roots to perform songs from "Run Devil Run," a collection of early rock and roll cover songs. While only three hundred people were inside the newly restored Cavern Club, three million people listened in through the Internet.

An additional 15,000 fans stood outside in freezing weather and watched the concert on a large screen in a nearby park.

"It was the biggest musical gig in the history of the Internet," said McCartney spokesman Geoff Baker after the concert. "We can certainly claim a new world record for that one."

3 Million Listeners

The Tuesday evening gig in McCartney's hometown of Liverpool was streamed through the MCY.com and MSN.co.uk sites. As the concert began, the MCY.com site reported 50 million hits, but only three million were actually able to connect.

MCY.com will rebroadcast the event on demand through midnight, Sunday, December 19, 1999.

"Now that we are living in a digital age, the Internet opens new doors for artists and consumers," said Bernhard Fritsch, chairman and CEO of MCY. MCY was also responsible for the worldwide Internet broadcast of Michael Jackson's concert in Munich, Germany last June.

Other major music promotions available at MCY include performances by Luciano Pavarotti and Tina Turner.

Kick Start

McCartney's record sales have been lackluster over the past 15 years, after a fast start to a solo career that began in 1970. He has remained a concert favorite, however, and holds the all-time concert attendance record for a solo artist, with 184,000 fans attending a Rio de Janeiro show in April 1990.

During the Cavern Club concert, McCartney stuck to the spirit of the album, playing songs from the early days of rock and roll. Classics included songs previously performed by Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry.

In the coming days and weeks, disc sales will offer some clues to the power of mass product promotion over the Internet. If McCartney can turn his disc sales around with this promotion, streaming concerts may become a mainstay on the Net.

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