In an age of shrinking music sales and disappearing revenue, Atlantic Records is trying to put all of its resources to work.
Take Atlantic's Web site, AtlanticRecords.com, for example. Most label sites offer little more than a list of their acts and some promotional materials, but Atlantic is trying to give visitors a reason to stick around.
The label, part of Warner Music Group, dug into the vaults and began digitizing old photos, concert posters, and recorded interviews involving some of the iconic acts it has represented over 63 years. Managers unearthed signer Ray Charles' first contract (he signed with an X). They discovered ad copy from 1967 about Aretha Franklin and about Jackson Browne from 1971.
Founded by impresario Ahmet Ertegun, one of the pioneers of the modern music industry, Atlantic has represented such diverse acts as Led Zeppelin, Bobby Darin, Bruno Mars, and B.o.B. When it comes to the Web, Atlantic is perhaps best known for becoming the first label to report more than half its revenues from digital.
But offering a treasure trove of memorabilia is only part of the plan. Atlantic has posted video interviews of Artists & Repertoire executives who share some of their stories about how they discovered popular acts. Even the interns are interviewed about their experiences working at a record company. Also there is a growing number of video performances done exclusively for the site. Any act that visits Atlantic's midtown Manhattan offices can find themselves hustled into a recently revamped sound studio for an acoustic performance.
"It's really about presenting a voice for the label," said Paul Sinclair, Atlantic's senior vice president of digital media and business development. "We want to show what a record label is like, show it from the insider's point of view.
Site creators also built in a feature that allows visitors to tailor-make the site based on their own music-genre preferences. The site pulls material from Facebook's "Like" feature, such as band suggestions, location-based tour info, targeted tweets, and video content.
Shareholders of Warner Music's stock may be happy to see that one of the company's top labels is looking for news to improve. At a time when all the major labels are ailing, Warner, the third-largest of the four top record companies, hasn't reported a profit in two years.