Napster Tries Partnering

File-sharing network Napster Friday said it has finalized a new multi-artist deal with online music promotional company Kramden Enterprises, potentially adding several bands to Napster’s stable of featured artists.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Already, Napster has agreements with independent labels and artist organizations Moonshine Music, Sputnik7, 75 Arc Entertainment and others to feature the labels’ artists in the “Featured Music” section of Napster’s Web site and welcome pages.

But Friday’s arrangement gives Kramden Enterprise, which handles online promotions for recording labels, access to promotions to Napster’s community of more than 30 million users.

As part of the deal, the companies said Kramden will be using Napster as a key aspect of its future marketing and promotional efforts.

“We think Napster is the most exciting thing to happen to the music community since Nirvana,” said Kramden chief executive officer Jonathan Daniel. “Word of mouth has always been the best way to promote an artist. Never before has there been such an expansive, convenient way to spread the gospel.”

One of Kamden’s bands taking advantage of the deal is Primitive Radio Gods, whose debut album, Rocket, went gold in 1996 off the single “Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth with Money In My Hand”. Part of the agreement entailed Napster’s featuring the track “Fading Out” from the band’s upcoming album White Hot Peach.

Napster actually has been promoting the band since the beginning of this month. The company said the track’s inclusion in its “Featured Music” sections generated more than 5,000 hits to the band’s website within the first day of its posting — an increase in traffic of nearly 1000 percent.

The promotion of White Hot Peach will be followed by a campaign to promote the upcoming CD of another Kramden client, Arrested Development.

Napster Friday also said it will handle similar promotional efforts with indie label Discipline Global Mobile‘s pop-rock band the Rosenbergs.

Interestingly enough, the Rosenbergs retain full-ownership rights of their master recordings through their contract with DCM. Discipline Global Mobile receives concert ticket, merchandise and Internet distribution revenue.

DCN will promote the Rosenbergs’ forthcoming album by making several tracks available on Napster.

“As a company, we fully embrace the concept of sharing,” said DGM co-owner David Singleton of Friday’s deal. “Radio is a form of sharing where one DJ can share music with many people, but it works best with established music with a large audience. The Internet is a wonderful tool that allows fans to share music with each other. Most people discover new music because a friend puts the music in their hands.”

Napster points to these new alliances as highlighting the extensive promotional opportunities it offers recording artists. In a sense, it also speaks to a growing effort to legitimize its relationship to the music industry and establish a business plan.

With less to lose than major-name labels, indie label execs say they see little reason not to pursue promotional deals with Napster.

“The ability to reach millions of music fans without the traditional barriers of entry associated with radio and television presents us with a fantastic promotional opportunity for our artists,” said Moonshine Music president Steve Levy, whose label is promoting its artist DJ Keoki’s track “Pass It On” through Napster.

Friday’s arrangements might be short-lived, however. The partnerships come as Napster is scheduled to appear in federal court in October, to appeal a district court’s July ruling shutting down the service for copyright violation.

While the Napster deals have yet to include big-name artists — although several bands and artists including the Smashing Pumpkins, Courtney Love and Public Enemy have released songs for free on the Internet — recent announcements suggest that the recording industry is making tentative steps to figure out how to use the Internet to boost promotional and marketing efforts.

A similar announcement came earlier this week, when spokespeople for Capitol Records said the label will kick off a Web marketing promotion for recording artists Radiohead, by Webcasting the band’s unreleased album at noon on Monday.

An integrated online-offline promotion will follow, of which details have yet to be released.

The event marks an effort for Capitol Records to retain a grip on its artists’ digital properties following well-publicized difficulties keeping Radiohead’s much-anticipated album under wraps, with songs appearing on Napster earlier this week.

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