Dave Matthews to Kick Off AOL 9.0

As part of a big marketing splash to coincide with Wednesday’s launch of the new “AOL 9.0 Optimized,” America Online announced a major freebie for its broadband subscribers — live video access to the Dave Matthews Band’s Central Park concert.

The company said ‘AOL for Broadband’ subscribers would get VIP access to “Dave Matthews Band in Central Park — The AOL Concert for Schools.” AOL members with a dial-up connection would also get access to a live audio broadcast of the event via the Radio@AOL service. A low-resolution video stream for narrowband users would also be available, the company said.

The freebies are part of the company’s release of the new “AOL 9.0 Optimized” service, which has received upbeat reviews from analysts buoyed by the ISP’s dual strategy of building broadband subscribers while managing the erosion of its dial-up base as online audiences switch to high-speed services.

In addition to giving away access to the big Dave Matthews Band concert, AOL said fans on the Web would also be able to access a live audio stream from the AOL Web site. Select Infinity Broadcasting stations across the country will also be broadcasting the full concert live, the company said.

With a two-pronged plan to keep dial-up subscribers while offering a carrot for broadband content, AOL has also purchased the entire press run of the New York Post. On Wednesday, New Yorkers will receive a free copy of the newspaper with a free CD-ROM insert containing the newest AOL version.

The CD-ROM that comes with the New York Post giveaway will also include a video for Dave Matthews’ “Gravedigger” alongisde two concert videos, “Grace is Gone” and “Tripping Billies.”

AOL said the Dave Matthews Concert, sheduled for Wednesday evening in Central park, will raise more than $1 million for schools in the Big Apple.

The newspaper marketing push will also include free trials of the MusicNet paid download music service.

— Erin Joyce contributed to this article.

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