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Industry Standard

Chuck D signs with Internet music label

   WorldBeat News:
   Public Enemy offers new album online

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April 20, 1999
Web posted at: 6:32 p.m. EDT (2232 GMT)

by Lessley Anderson

(IDG) -- Music biz icon Al Teller broke ranks earlier this year by founding online record label Atomic Pop. Now Teller's new label has signed its first big name -- Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, a champion of online music distribution.

Teller's Atomic Pop will represent both Chuck D and Public Enemy, and will release the band's upcoming album, "There's a Poison Goin On."

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"As an artist I've always done more than an artist, and Atomic Pop is more than a record company. That's where the match comes in," says Chuck D, who first worked with Teller in '87, when the former head of Columbia Records oversaw the Public Enemy's debut through its subsidiary label, Def Jam Records.

Atomic Pop will act as a traditional label, in that it will market the new album and release it in brick-and-mortar outlets this June at standard CD prices. However, the label will also offer the album for purchase and download online in May -- a full month ahead of retail outlets -- at a discounted price of $10.

"We were both kicking around the whole notion of having a pre-retail-release window," says Teller, recalling negotiations with Chuck D. "He found it really interesting -- it was aggressive, and there was a good price point."

Public Enemy fans will have the opportunity to buy and download the entire album, said Teller. However, the format and method of security system are still to be decided. The past few weeks have seen a near frenzy develop within the digital download space, with Microsoft and Intertrust Technologies introducing their own "secure" methods of distributing music digitally. These technologies and those of established music delivery systems Liquid Audio and AT&T's a2b Music are all competing to win the attention of the big record labels. So far the labels have only agreed to distribute significant amounts of content through IBM's Madison Project, which will trial over broadband in San Diego in June.

"Singles and songs are going to enter the marketplace like high-tech shrapnel," declares an excited Chuck D.

The rapper has also created, with his new label, a music video for the single, "Do You Wanna Go Our Way???" which will also be available for download on the Atomic Pop site.

Atomic Pop will market the single and album both online and offline, though Teller won't reveal how much the label intends to spend. "There's a Poison Goin On" is Public Enemy's first studio album since "Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age" in 1994. But Atomic Pop is hoping that the buzz generated by first offering the album online will bolster retail sales.

"We're anticipating that the online release of the record builds up a real good head of steam, so that when it hits retail, there will be a good story attached to it," says Teller. And a big sell-through.

The Atomic Pop site will also feature additional, continually updated extra materials about the band, like interviews, biographies, and a link back to Public Enemy's own popular site, (link below).

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