LOS ANGELES, April 17, 2001 — Ethan Jewett has traveled hundreds of miles to see his favorite musicians perform. One time he even trekked from Portland, Ore., to San Francisco to see pop-jazz singer Jenna Maminna.
“The right venue means everything,”
“It affects how musicians perform. It can put their music in a whole new light.”
More recently, he watched Shawn Colvin in the South Pacific islands of Bora Bora, Alanis Morissette in northeastern Arizona and Boyz II Men in Korea. He even got to follow the artists around before and after the shows and sit in on exclusive interviews. Thankfully — for Jewetts pocketbook — his most recent concert trips were via his computer, rather than an airplane.
Music In High Places, a series of live acoustic performances filmed in exotic locales, gives Jewett and other music fans the chance to see top performers as never before. MSN, the most visited site on the Web, offers music fans the only way to see these performances online, along with exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, at http://www.musicinhighplaces.msn.com/ .
MSN will celebrate the exclusive
of the Music in High Places television series tonight. Performances by Colvin, Morissette, Collective Soul and Brian McKnight will highlight a music-industry and media event at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills.
Tonights event spotlights MSNs growing presence in the music industry. In addition to Music In High Places, MSN recently launched an online streaming music service called MSN Music. MSN also is teaming with top artists to offer co-branded online services and is playing a major role in the development and widespread deployment of Microsoft Windows Media technology.
“The digital music revolution has only just begun, and MSN wants to provide the most compelling digital music experiences possible,”
said Jeremy Hinman, director of business development for MSN Music.
“MSNs massive network of users — combined with Microsofts technology, devotion to protecting copyrights and experience developing software for numerous types of personal devices — will fuel the development of these experiences.”
Music In High Places: A New Look at Artists in Exotic Locales
Music in High Places is one example of how MSN is expanding horizons for music fans and artists on the Web.
“The idea was to take world-class pop stars on these incredible journeys to incredible places, strip their music to the barest of acoustic settings and document what happens on film,”
said Marc Oswald, an executive producer for Music In High Places, a production of Earth escapes, LLC.
The series debuted on MSN and DIRECTV last year. The first episode features a serene-looking Morissette, dressed in a flowing pastel-pink and white outfit and sturdy jogging shoes, singing with her unplugged band-mates land of the Navajo Nations in Arizona. Subsequent episodes capture rhythm-and-blues singer McKnight in a former Portuguese settlement and secluded sand dunes in Brazil; country singer Wynonna Judd next to the canals of Venice, Italy; fellow country crooner LeAnn Rimes visiting Chichen Itza, Mexico; and Collective Soul fireside in rural parts of Morocco
Music fan Jewett said the settings provide a new context for the music and the artists without impacting the pristine locations, as large outdoor concerts often do.
“When you strip away all the gloss and the music production, you get to the real artist,”
“I think I got to see who they really are.”
Even Boyz II Mens performance in the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea struck Jewett as insightful.
“It was just them, surrounded by Humvees and soldiers,”
“It seemed like an unlikely, but fitting place to have an acoustic performance.”
As with all of the performers, Collective Soul played an active role choosing the location for its episode.
“Music in High Places gives us a way to show our fans a whole new side of ourselves and our music, not to mention reach a much broader base of fans on the Web,”
said lead singer Ed Roland.
Along with presenting the artists in a new light, the series exposes locations and people whom music fans might not have seen before — or seen in the way they are captured in Music in High Places. For example, the Web version of Morissettes episode includes an extended performance clip of a Navajo drum circle.
“From Tahiti to Italy to Vietnam, the people we have met have been happy to see us come and share their world,”
said Tony Eaton, chief operating officer of Music in High Places.
“They are proud of where they live.”
MSN Takes Music In High Places Higher
MTV will begin airing Music in High Places this week with Morissettes episode on Monday, Collective Souls on Tuesday and McKnights on Wednesday. The first seven episodes are already available online at www.musicinhighplaces.msn.com. This Web extension of the series features exclusive interviews with the artists, behind-the-scenes footage of the making of each episode, and tours and digital photographs of the artists and locations.
Fans can also participate in online chats with featured artists. During the first chat, , Colvin discussed her experiences in Bora Bora. Fans will have an opportunity to chat with McKnight about his adventure to Brazil at http://chat.msn.com/msnlive/features/mihpbrian.asp this evening. (See sidebar for full schedule and listings)
“The TV show has about 10 percent of the content that the Web version has, because theres no time limit on the Web,”
“Web viewers also can watch the songs in any order they please. Its video-on-demand. On TV, if you want to see LeAnn Rimes sing `Blue, you have to wait until 40 minutes into the show.”
In addition to the unique settings, Jewett said he enjoys the broad selection of offerings on the MIHP Web site, including links to each artists home page.
“The site just puts it all out there,”
“If you are into an artist, you can get a lot of information all in one place.”
MSN Building Leadership Role in Music Industry
MSNs vision for music in the digital age stretches beyond Music In High Places. The online network is developing other offerings that provide music fans new opportunities to enjoy their favorite artists and discover new ones, while also respecting the copyrights behind the music.
Earlier this month, MSN debuted MSN Music, a new online radio service with more than 1 million programmed stations and
technology that allows fans to discover music based on the musical attributes of their favorite songs, not the tastes of other listeners or the hype a group generates. Hinman said the
technology also offers music labels a new way to target artists to MSNs 230 million unique visitors each month.
MSN Music is the first online service built on Microsofts .NET foundation. One advantage of this foundation for listeners is that it supports Microsoft Passport, a service which lets them sign in only once and use the same user name and password throughout MSN and other participating Web sites. MSN Music also incorporates Windows Media Player, using its streaming media and digital rights management (DRM) technology to prevent prohibited downloading and recording of songs. No other major streaming music service provides this level of protection for music.
The intellectual-rights protections built into MSN Music go into all of services offered by MSN, Hinman said.
“Microsoft is an intellectual rights company,”
“We understand and respect the importance of safeguarding the works of artists and labels.”
Collective Souls Roland appreciates Microsofts concern:
“Were all for getting our music to fans in as many ways as possible, but we also are sensitive to copyright issues — and so are MSN and Microsoft.”
In addition to music, MSN provides new ways to keep up with top artists and other fans. Launched in December, *[email protected] includes a customized home on the Internet, complete with pictures of the pop group. The site also offers subscribers a customized MSN Messenger instant messaging service and Windows Media Player, as well as an exclusive chat site, videos and an *NSYNC newsletter. Branded services with other top artists are planned.
MSN envisions offering music fans even more ways to enjoy their favorite artists and music, including new ways to take music with them anywhere and enjoy it anytime and on any device.
“We have the technology know-how and have demonstrated how to use it with new Web offerings like MSN Music,”
“We plan to continue using this know-how to make it even easier to enjoy digital music in even more ways.”
Oswald predicts a bright future for MSNs music ventures, especially if it puts the same energy and technology it has into Music In High Places.
“If the stuff they come out with in the future is half as cool as what they have done with us, its going to be killer,”
“The skys the limit.”