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Elektra tries hand at rock-only music portal

The Time Warner record label opens the doors on a new Web site it hopes will help promote its rock acts more effectively than its current sprawling home page.

Time Warner record label Elektra has opened the doors on a new Web site it hopes will help promote its rock acts more effectively than its current sprawling home page.

The new jukebox-like site is called Rockbox2000, with links to songs, videos and fan information from a smattering of the label's top rock acts, such as Metallica, Phish and Third Eye Blind.

The move follows a few more recent announcements by major labels that have stepped cautiously toward selling or allowing downloads of music online. The Rockbox doesn't go this far, however, limiting itself to RealAudio-based streaming versions of songs.

Elektra executives said the site could be used eventually to sell songs. For now they see it as a promotional tool, supporting artists who have new albums out or are on tour.

"The idea with Rockbox was to do a genre-specific site," said Elektra vice president of new media Camille Hackney, noting that the label's main site is less focused. "We're testing the idea with the rock genre."

Analysts say this type of site is useful in promoting an artist's brand online and potentially to sell music. But they caution the labels not to expect torrents of traffic.

"I don't think many consumers will be seeking out the front page of this kind of site," said Aram Sinnreich, an analyst with Jupiter Communications. "I don't think the real value is in the Rockbox name. But as a hub that aggregates the various artists' brands, it could be effective as a retailing destination."

Elektra will be promoting the site through its artists' releases and with online advertising campaigns, Hackney said. Most of the content on the site is available on the Elektra.com site. But some of the songs at Rockbox have been released exclusively on the Web, she said.