NORAH JONES PERFORMS AT HARD ROCK JOINT IN LAS VEGAS
Ethan Miller  /  Reuters file
“Feels Like Home,” Norah Jones’ new (and as-yet unreleased) album, will be made available to listeners now through an expanded content arrangement with Internet retailer amazon.com.
By Michael E. Ross Reporter
msnbc.com
updated 2/6/2004 10:35:49 AM ET 2004-02-06T15:35:49

In another example of the ongoing marriage of music and the Internet, the leading Internet retailer announced this week that it is expanding a content arrangement with popular musical acts to provide listeners exclusive streaming audio and video content to new releases before they hit the streets.

With its "Hit List" promotion, Amazon.com is working with Blue Note, Sony, Island, Capitol, ATO and Sanctuary Records to release to customers visiting the Amazon Music Store (online at amazon.com/music) full-length tracks and videos from upcoming releases by a range of artists, including Norah Jones, Melissa Etheridge, Keb' Mo, Kylie Minogue, Five for Fighting and other artists.

Ten of the 13 songs from the new Norah Jones release "Feels Like Home," currently the Store's top draw, will be available for free audio streaming on Saturday -- three days before the record's release to stores.

Customers who pre-order "Lucky," Melissa Etheridge's new album (street date Feb. 17) get streaming access to the entire album now through Monday, through the Amazon Music Store.

The type of content varies widely. "Content can range from all songs on the album to some songs on the album, to studio footage, rarities or B-sides or other exclusive material," said Jeff Somers, Amazon group merchandising manager.

Keb' Mo's new album "Keep It Simple" (out Feb. 10) will be available through the Music Store on an advance basis; the Grammy-winning blues singer and guitarist also agreed to offer, exclusive to Amazon through March 22, a performance of five songs from a New York concert.

Instant Gratification Dept.
The partnership with the labels will also include the opportunity to stream live and previously unreleased versions of songs by David Gray, Patti Griffin, Jem, My Morning Jacket, Gov't Mule, and North Mississippi Allstars when customers buy records by those artists.

The arrangement offers buyers a touch of instant gratification: One feature of the Amazon initiative will be the ability for customers to buy a record on a pre-order basis (before it's available in stores) and instantly receive the songs from the record, via streaming, while waiting for delivery of the actual disc in the mail.

"That's a very compelling music-buying experience," said Emily Glassman, Amazon's entertainment public relations manager.

Quality and quantity
The new Amazon initiative is a variation on the retailer's 2003 Holiday A-List promotion, in which a field of 60 celebrities -- from Bill Cosby to R.E.M., Will Ferrell to Barbra Streisand -- provided Amazon customers with a range of exclusive content, from short stories to songs.

The Hit List also continues a free-streaming relationship with customers that actually started about two years ago -- what's different is the caliber and quantity of the talent, and the exclusive focus on music.

"The biggest distinction is the quantity and quality of the content we're getting," said Jeff Somers, Amazon group merchandising manager. "Before it was done on an infrequent basis," he said. "Now we're seeing more attention from more artists ... and with more access to more content than we've had in the past."

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