[news=http://www.slyck.com/newspics/stage4pr.jpg]Billboard No.1 R&B artist Ne-Yo is to be the first featured artist in a new music show called Stageside, which is now freely available to file sharers.
Despite promising a line up of big name artists, the show is completely free and contains no DRM restrictions.
It is all part of a new marketing campaign by Coca-Cola to reach out to millions of young males, who are notoriously difficult to target with traditional media. It is in contrast to their DRM based music service called My Coke Music, which operates in some European countries.
Coca-Cola also runs a music mixing, games and blogging site called MyCoke in an attempt to attract young fans.
The new campaign is called "Coke side of life" and will replace the winter polar bear advertisements.
The show is produced by Jun Group, who shot to fame last year with a downloadable Scene based drama called Welcome To The Scene.
"Rather than doing standard online advertising, Coke is providing free, legal content to download and share," Mitchell Reichgut, Founder and CEO of Jun Group, told Slyck News. “The fact that Coke is paying for it makes it a blockbuster - nothing like this has ever happened."
Each episode of Stageside will feature specially recorded interviews, behind the scenes footage and live shows of a different artist. Coca-Cola will be credited for making the content available, but the advertisements themselves will be kept to a minimum. There are no commercial breaks or obtrusive watermarks, just some branding in the credits.
Live music and interviews with a select few musicians is a long way off a complete catalogue of albums, but Reichgut believes the show will help transform how the RIAA member labels, such as Def Jam who signed Ne-Yo, make digital content available. He sees a future in advertisers compensating artists, rather than the consumer.
He told Slyck, "I think it's an enormous step in that direction. We have always believed in that model. It may not happen overnight, but we're very encouraged by the relationships we've developed with the labels - they recognize the value in branded entertainment.”
The show represents more than just another viral advert. It is a demonstration that RIAA member labels are realising that their revenue streams have to change. It also shows an appreciating what their competitors have known for a long time – free music on P2P is free advertising.