REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 28, 2000 — A note to Jordan Fuller’s parents and friends: Don’t waste time buying her a Christmas present with the pop group *NSYNC’s name, music or likeness on it. The 12-year-old already owns all their CDs. She has all of the fan magazines. Her bedroom is literally wallpapered with posters of the five heartthrob band members.
“I like them …”
she explained with a slight, but dramatic pause,
a lot .”
In fact, Jordan has almost everything any fan could want — with a few exceptions: She doesn’t have a way to access exclusive photos and videos of *NSYNC, or a way to customize her Internet service so she can take along her favorite group when she chats with friends online or plays music and videos on her computer.
She and millions of other *NSYNC fans soon will be able to do just that. MSN has teamed up with the top-selling group to create a new Internet access service that offers fans what may be the next best thing to sharing a computer with Lance, JC, Joey, Chris and Justin.
Set to debut Dec. 1, *[email protected] customizes MSN Messenger Service and Windows Media Player to include pictures of the band and its logo. In addition, an *NSYNC homepage and a new official community site to add to the other MSN communities where thousands of *NSYNC fans are already hanging out — both available only to subscribers of the new service — will offer previously unreleased music videos, photos and interviews, along with a weekly behind-the-scenes newsletter.
“*[email protected] is the ultimate Web home for fans of the extremely talented and popular music group,”
said Brad Chase, senior vice president of MSN.
“There’s no better way for fans to keep up with the band and to make Lance, JC, Joey, Chris and Justin permanent fixtures on their computers. I know my kids can’t wait!”
*[email protected] is the latest example of the exclusive, integrated services and content offered on MSN, the most popular site on the Web with more than 210 million visitors each month. Along with email, live chat, search, shopping and other top Internet services, MSN recently launched MSN Kids channel, in conjunction with Discovery.com, Walt Disney Internet Group and Nicklelodeon, more examples of MSN providing leading content and services for all age groups.
Giving Fans What They Want
This latest relationship grew out of the mutual interest MSN and *NSYNC have in serving the group’s fans. By teaming up, Chase said, both groups can more easily give millions of *NSYNC fans what they want — a way to learn more about the group and to integrate their music and images into online activities.
“Our fans are super important to us,”
said Lance Bass of *NSYNC.
“We use the Internet not only as a tool to communicate with our families while we are on the road, but it also allows us to reach out to our fans in yet another way. We are super excited about the new *[email protected] service. It gives our fans lots of cool things they can’t get anywhere else.”
The new service enables MSN to provide its young users the Internet exclusivity that adults find in brand-name credit cards and customized automobiles.
“Who doesn’t enjoy seeing the name or likeness of their favorite sports team, university or club emblazoned on the items they use every day?”
Chase asked. “*[email protected] allows fans to add their favorite brand name — *NSYNC — to their online activities and to take advantage of MSN being so easy to use.
Here’s how it works: Subscribers to the new service pay the same monthly fee ($21.95) as other customers who receive Internet service through MSN. *[email protected] subscribers receive the full range of features and benefits offered to other MSN customers, including content sites such as MSN Kids, new MSN Explorer software and services such as MSN Hotmail and MSN Messenger.
In addition, when *[email protected] subscribers log on to the service, a customized screen with the group’s logo and picture will appear, along with links to the customized services and exclusive content not found anywhere else.
When subscribers activate their Windows Media Player, a customized ‘skin’ with the *NSYNC logo and picture will appear on their on-screen control panel. Similarly, the group’s logo will adorn the message panel when subscribers use MSN Messenger, a live Internet chat service.
Exclusive Videos, Pictures and Interviews
Ten-year-old Ali Smith, a fifth-grader who has listened to her *NSYNC CDs a
times, likes the exclusivity of *[email protected]
“It will be kind of like being in a special club,”
She can’t wait to see the exclusive videos and photos on *[email protected]
“You’ll be able to see how they’ve changed compared to the old photos in magazines,”
The *N2 *NSYNC online newsletter, available exclusively to *[email protected] subscribers, will offer weekly, behind-the-scenes information about the band including pictures.
The *[email protected] community site — the online equivalent of a fan club — will offer additional exclusive photos, including perhaps baby pictures of group members. Fans also will be able to conduct live online chats and watch for surprise visits from special guests, such as the parents of group members.
Jordan, the sixth-grader with the *NSYNC wallpaper, can’t wait for the exclusive photos.
“I’ll probably use up all of the ink in our printer making copies,”
she said. She also looks forward to no longer having to sit through Total Request Live on MTV to see a single video with Justin Timberlake — her favorite group member — and the rest of *NSYNC.
As an added bonus, the *[email protected] signup CD includes a special video clip from *NSYNC’s HBO concert special that can be viewed using the Windows Media Player. Additional previews of exclusive videos are planned for delivery via the *[email protected] service
Rebecca Ashcroft, 22, a longtime fan who has met the group members several times, said one of the things she likes best about *[email protected] is that the group approves of the service.
“If it’s something they are putting together, then you know it’s real,”
“You know they want other people to see it.”
Exclusive MSN Services Growing
Though it may not seem possible to Ashcroft and other diehard fans, some Web users have things other than *NSYNC on their minds when they’re on the Internet. MSN has set out to meet these other users’ needs as well, Chase said, by offering exclusive content and collaborative efforts with several other brand-name companies.
The new MSN Kids channel provides games, entertainment, sports, news, arts, activities and learning developed for children aged 9 and under and for those ages 10 to 12.
Discovery Channel provides activities that help kids learn how to build a roller coaster, find dinosaur digs near where they live, or get help on their homework. Disney.com offers destinations such as Zeether, an area dedicated to interactive entertainment and storytelling for older children, and Playhouse, which features Mouse House Jr. and Worlds of Disney for younger children. Disney also offers a link to ABCNEWS4Kids.com., an Internet news service created for children ages 8 to 12.
In addition to these, MSN offers a broad array of other services, including MSN Hotmail, a Web-based email service that ranks as the world’s largest email system, and MSN Search, the second post popular online search service. There’s also the customizable wireless service MSN Mobile, MSN MoneyCentral online personal finance service and online shopping service MSN eShop.
And, to tie it all together, MSN recently launched MSN Explorer, which combines the best of MSN’s services and content with the best of Microsoft’s Internet technologies, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and the Windows Media Player, into a single integrated experience that helps consumers get more from the Web.
“This is another way MSN distinguishes itself from the competition,”
“Nowhere else can Internet users get as much depth and variety of services as they get with MSN.”