Virgin/EMI to Explore Virtual Concerts

  |  December 7, 2006   |  Comments

Recording artist Stacie Orrico to play on teen site Whyville.com

Virgin/EMI is promoting a concert this weekend for one of its young recording artists, pop/R&B singer Stacie Orrico, but don't look for it in a stadium or theater, it will be presented on the virtual world of Whyville.com.

In a first for Virgin/EMI, the label is using the virtual concert to try and reach Orrico's target audience of eight to 15 years old kids. Whyville.com, which is described as an edu-tainment virtual world for the tween-age generation, is creating the concert for Orrico. The event itself will include 45 minutes of songs performed by an Orrico avatar. Whyville is also making it possible for attendees to purchase Orrico's songs or ringtones as well as virtual souvenir sales and an eBay-based charity auction for the virtual clothing Orrico's avatar will wear during the event.

"We're excited about it. We think it's a perfect target to hit Stacie's primary demographic, which are teens," Aaron Simon, director of marketing for Virgin Records told ClickZ. "It's the very first virtual program that we have done with any of our artists. We would definitely want to continue it. It's something that is so important when you're a teen artist to really get in front of your buyers. In front of your fans."

Whyville has just under two million "tween citizens" and is preparing for as many as 6,000 of them to attend the concert, said Jay Goss, COO of Numedeon, Whyville’s parent company.

"One of the approaches in how we're making this concert come to life is we are literally trying to walk ourselves through an entire concert and then coming up with the virtual analog of it," Goss said. "The most novel aspect of this virtual concert is the kids are going to be able to raise their hands so to speak and ask Stacie a question and if the question gets accepted, the kid's avatar gets to come on stage and ask her."

Beyond reaching a specific age bracket audience through a site like Whyville, the appeal of reaching potential customers through virtual means is something Virgin/EMI plans on continuing with some of its other artists, according to Simon.

"You can't be in every city performing every night, and everyone knows how vital online presence is for every artist," he said. "Why not make virtual characters for all our artists and have them perform weekly on their own websites? It would have to be a certain type of artist to do it. It may not be a good fit for some genre of music, but we think it's a bull's-eye."

"It's just one more little baby step that marketers like myself are trying to take advantage of. It's the new era of selling music," Simon said.

Stacie Orrico, 20, has sold 3.4 million albums and will be previewing songs from her CD, Beautiful Awakening, which will be released in January 2007. The concert itself is scheduled for Saturday December 9 at 2 PM Pacific at Whyville.com.

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Matthew G. Nelson

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