Universal Forms Internet-Based Record Label

Music giant Universal Music Group said today that it is forming a new record label that will “uniquely harness the strength and reach of the Internet,” with America Online (NYSE: AOL) and others serving as key strategic partners.

The new label will be called Jimmy and Doug’s Farm Club, and reflects the combined names of Jimmy Iovine, Co-Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M and Doug Morris, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Universal Music Group.

The venture offers a clear signal that the music industry has decided it would rather join the Internet music scene rather than fight it any longer. Universal and others have waged a fruitless campaign to prevent Internet music innovations like MP3 free downloadable software from taking root.

Guerrilla Record Making

The label’s executives say that the venture will capitalize on the Internet’s broad reach and raw connections to find new talent.

“Farm Club is guerrilla record making,” said Iovine, who will take his post as CEO of the venture when it officially launches in February. “We will be tapping into music and the creative process at its purest form. It’s giving the record business something it’s always desired — to find talent and reach its audience in the most personal and undiluted way.”

This record company will live and breathe anywhere. For the first time, fans and musicians have a direct effect on the music that will be available in the marketplace,” he added.

Partnerships

One of the key components of this venture is the partnerships that Universal has established to support this venture. AOL, USA, and MTV Networks have all agreed to serve various functions.

American Online, Inc. (NYSE:AOL) has agreed to provide integration and carriage and in return will receive a minority stake in the Farm Club as well as offline cross-promotion from Universal.

USA Networks and MTV Networks will also play an active part in the venture. USA will broadcast a weekly one-hour show called FarmClub.com in a prime time slot. The program will showcase artists signed to the label, the company said. MTV has entered into a cross-promotional relationship with the label.

In addition to offering online access to talent scouts, the company said that the new label would provide musicians with interactive chat, services such as managers, booking clubs and outlets for music instrument purchases. It will begin accepting musicians submissions on December 1st.

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