May 22, 2000 to Launch Subscription Service June 1
by Jay Kumar

Online entertainment network has set a June 1 launch date for a revamped version of PatroNet, an online subscription service for original work by popular artists that was founded by '70s pop star Todd Rundgren.

Originally launched in 1998, PatroNet offers musicians an online distribution point and marketing solution for artists. PatroNet artists make money from fans who pay to experience and download content from the network. Fans pay escalating amounts for larger and larger packages of downloadable music, CDs and videos [see 3.03.00 Goldberg Indie Label Launches Site Featuring Celebs].

ArtistEnt President Stuart Shapiro said Rundgren's "several thousand" current subscribers will be rolled over to a new pricing model of $5 per month or $40 per year. Rundgren currently charges anywhere from $20 to $60 per year depending on the package.

Shapiro said ArtistEnt is negotiating with other artists for the PatroNet service. While he wouldn't name the artists under consideration, Shapiro said that they will be announced in July. "We'd like to have 10-12 artists by the end of one year," he added.

While he said it was difficult to predict how many subscriptions an artist would need to sell to make the service a success, Shapiro said the company feels most of the artists it will sign to PatroNet will reach 10,000 subscribers.

Rundgren will do a 40-city tour next month during which ArtistEnt hopes to sign fans to PatroNet right at the venues.

Danny Goldberg, chairman and CEO of ArtistEnt and Artemis Records, said PatroNet hopes to attract artists with built-in audiences willing to pay for more than just CDs. "The vast majority of PatroNet artists are going to be niche artists with a niche market," he said. PatroNet's artists will come from a variety of genres including rock, blues, reggae, folk, classical and world music.

Pricing will vary depending on the artist, Goldberg said. "We're going to experiment with different pricing for different artists," he added. "I think artists will have different ideas of what they want to do" as far as pricing and what they offer to fans as part of the subscription.

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