Growth in Online Entertainment Market

Has One Player Eyeing Technology Role

By Jodi B. Cohen

Monster Bit Media started building Web sites in the early days of HTTP 1.0 for the Austin, Texas, music scene.

It was the first to do a wireless T-1 video broadcast of the nationally recognized Survival Research Laboratories performance art group. The performance had to be done at a race track because of the pyrotechnics, so the company hooked up two 65-foot towers so the video signal could be transmitted back into town.

"We pride ourselves on being the first to push the envelope, and it's usually stuff like this that allows you to push the envelope," said Mellie Price, president of Monster Bit Media and affiliate MB Media. "We were one of the first to try and use video technology." The company handles online ordering, live broadcasting, mailing lists, and other items found on many music Web sites.

"We are really a turnkey digital provider," said Price. "We have installed digital lines to do the broadcasting through MB Media for several large music festivals." If an independent-label artist wants to discount CDs online during a live broadcast, for instance, MB Media runs a special on the CD and offers online transactions, which generate revenue. With larger artists, such as George Clinton, MB Media establishes a link to a major CD provider and gets a cut of the profit from CDs sold.

If MB features a live broadcast from one of its large venues, distribution is handled by the network, and the site receives a flat rate, because the venue, not the artist, is the client.Currently, the company is both a content and a technology provider. But Price said she would like to evolve away from being a content provider toward becoming a provider of the back-end network to keep everything running smoothly. "There are going to be really big players producing really big networks, and they are more suited for content delivery," she said. "But each of those networks is going to need a support network and infrastructure, longevity, and a good reputation." Price said she hasn't had a need to find advertisers and says that artists don't like sponsorship and advertising anyway. What she is working on are marketing campaigns in which advertisers related to the content are worked into the programming, such as a special on Gibson guitars.

"I don't think the banner advertising model works," she said. "But as the price of technology falls and becomes more readily available, the audience will broaden out on the Web anyway."

Reprinted from Web Week, Volume 3, Issue 14, May 12, 1997 © Mecklermedia Corp. All rights reserved. Keywords: content Date: 19970512