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AOL To Use Material Girl To Woo New Subscribers

New subscribers to AOL Time Warner Inc.’s flagship Internet service in the United States will have the first crack at scoring tickets to pop diva Madonna’s first world tour in 8 years.

In yet another cross-promotion effort to market the company’s traditional media assets, which include music artists such as Eric Clapton and Faith Hill and movies like “The Perfect Storm,” AOL said it will offer new subscribers a chance to buy tickets to Madonna’s world tour on May 6 – before tickets go on sale to the general public about a week later.

Web surfers will be able to call a number, subscribe for the AOL service and have the chance to buy tickets for whichever date they want to attend the “Drowned World Tour 2001.”

Current AOL subscribers will also get a head-start. They will have a chance to buy a limited number of tickets online on a first come, first-sold basis beginning May 7 to the concert at which the Material Girl plans to perform material from her current hit Warner Brothers album “Music.”

A “significant” number of tickets have been set aside to the U.S. shows for AOL members, Kevin Conroy, head of AOL Music, told Reuters.

Madonna performed in London earlier this year for half an hour and the event was Webcast to a world record audience of nine million people.

“It’s a special promotion because it pulls together a number of different interests with the result creating a lot of value for members and encouraging new subscribers,” said Conroy, adding that other such promotions could follow.

Pact With Ticketmaster

The Madonna-AOL tie-up is also one of the first incarnations of AOL’s pact with live-event ticketing giant Ticketmaster Inc. struck in March.

AOL will sponsor the Madonna tour and will offer exclusive online content related to the tour, including special downloads from the concerts, tour pictures, video clips, interviews and much more. The Internet service will be promoted onsite at concert venues and AOL will offer its 28 million plus members glimpses and chats from backstage at the tour.

Earlier this week, AOL said it unveiled a promotion for Virgin Records artist Janet Jackson and her new album that lets AOL members get access to select music and exclusive photos as well as participate in an online chat with the artist.

At Credit Suisse First Boston’s media conference in New York, AOL Time Warner Chief Executive Gerald Levin said on Thursday that the promotion was an example of trends to come in advertising.

“It’s a clever thing if you think about what we are trying to do,” he said. “Only small parts of the package are traditional advertising.”

Advertising has been the center of discussions lately as spending declines amid growing economic uncertainty and the dot-com shakeout and Internet media companies seek out new ways to make money.

“What everyone is missing (in the ad debate) is the reconfiguration of how people are going to evaluate what they used to call advertising,” Levin said, noting that the traditional “narrow” definition for advertising is not going to be valid for much longer.

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