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Macromedia launches Net "dance club"

ShockRave, Macromedia's entertainment site, wants to become the MTV of the Net, so it is launching what it calls "the Web's first interactive dance club."

    ShockRave, Macromedia's entertainment site, wants to become the MTV of the Net. Toward that goal, today it is launching what it is billing as "the Web's first interactive dance club."

    Basically, it consists of music accompanied by dancing figures and a slide show. The user can choose various icons, such as animated figures, to dance to the music.

    The idea is that users in the advertising-pleasing 18- to 24-year-old demographic will sit in front of their computers, listening to tunes, clicking the icons, and maybe tapping their toes (getting out of one's chair to dance along presumably would prohibit a person from interacting with the screen).

    The dance club is part of ShockRave's larger site, which is filled with message boards and games.

    "We want people to come and sit and within three to five minutes, have a lot of fun," said Jocelyn McArthur, director of Internet marketing in the Web traffic division for Macromedia.

    The only problem is that as a Web genre, pure entertainment has pretty much failed--with the notable exception of gaming. Gaming is a different, however, in that it requires active involvement from the user rather than passive enjoyment such as one experiences when watching a movie or listening to music.

    When the Web first became popular, all sorts of companies launched entertainment sites. There were soap operas, game shows, and the like--places where people were supposed to just hang out.

    It didn't take long for companies and individuals to see that when it comes to the Net, people don't really like just hanging out. They want to do something--chat, play a game, or get information. Activities such as viewing television or movie clips have not taken off on a grand scale largely because users are unwilling to wait for the clips to download.

    Net firms have to contend with a bandwidth dilemma--entertainment content tends to be bandwidth-intensive, whereas most home computers still are not--along with the challenge of trying to change users' behavior where use of technology is concerned.

    For example, people who want to listen to music habitually turn to their stereos, rather than their PCs. ShockRave's new "dance club" requires a user looking for musical entertainment to boot up their computer, dial up their Net connection, fire up a Web browser, surf to the right page, and then wait for the images to load.

    For Macromedia's part, McArthur said that the ShockRave site so far has been quite popular both as a place for users to be entertained and to check out Macromedia software.

    Along with the Macromedia-created images, the site also contains message boards. McArthur said the site gets about 60,000 visitors per day, who stay an average of 17 minutes.

    Games, cartoons, and music also are popular elements on the site, McArthur said.

    The next step is to steer some of those users, clearly open to online entertainment, over to the music video realm, where eventually they will be able to click over to a sister site and purchase a CD.