Sony BMG U.K. launches online A&R service

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LONDON - Sony BMG U.K. is getting closer to the unsigned artist community through a new interactive Web initiative.

The music major is encouraging musicians to become members of its RCA or Columbia labels' A&R "virtual neighbourhood," where users can post tracks, editorial and visual content on new community blogging Web sites columbiademos.co.uk and rcademos.co.uk.

Staff at Sony BMG U.K. are participating across the new platforms as bloggers and digital A&Rs.

The project is the brainchild of Sony BMG U.K. and Ireland chairman/CEO Ged Doherty. "This is the first step of the A&R part of our digital strategy," he tells Billboard.biz. "It immediately fitted what my personal vision of what our company needs to be, which is open, transparent, grass roots, community-based, and employing Web 2.0 technology and the spirit of it."

The online push coincides with a step towards a demo CD-free workplace at the U.K. company. With effect from April 2, Sony BMG will cease to accept physical demos for the RCA and Columbia labels in the United Kingdom.

"A CD can sit in a sack for two weeks before someone gets through it and gets back to the artist," Doherty notes. "We have to respond to these bands quickly. If a band drops a comment to me, and I don't respond for weeks we're going to look like idiots. This works for them and it works for us. It's very efficient."

The service has been launched in conjunction with San Francisco blogging service providers Six Apart and their platform Vox.com, and is the first of its kind within the Sony BMG empire.

As previously reported, the Epic Label will be re-launched shortly in the United Kingdom under managing director Nick Raphael. Doherty says the new-look Epic will also have its own presence on the recently-launched digital platform.
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