News

Tom Petty, Tribune Co. in Web partnership

Phil Rosenthal
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

CHICAGO — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, whose first album since 2002's "The Last DJ" is due out this week, have gone into business with Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co. on an Internet venture.

A new Web hub, in partnership with TomPetty.com, will link off Tribune Co. Web sites — including the Chicago Tribune's — to provide access to aggregated and unique content; music videos and tracks from the new release, "Mojo." In select markets, it also will offer access to concert tickets and merchandise from the "Mojo" tour, which began June 1 near Denver.

Dell Furano, chief executive of Live Nation Merchandise, which administers TomPetty.com on behalf of the band, said in the announcement that the partnership "allows us to use (Tribune Co.'s) offline and online assets, including newspaper and TV properties, to extend" the fan base of Petty and the Heartbreakers.

"As MTV has faded and FM radio has become more and more musically limited, there's no clear promotional vehicle for musical artists of this stature," Lee Abrams, a longtime radio consultant who's now Tribune Co.'s chief innovation officer, said in a statement. "We think we can offer a new and different way for the greats of the music industry to connect with their fans."

Visitors to the new site can play a trivia game and register for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles and front-row seats for the band's Oct. 1 show at the Hollywood Bowl. A download of the band's new album comes with purchase of tickets for the "Mojo" tour. Ticket buyers will also will get eight live tracks recorded during the tour.

"This gives fans another way to get the music, learn more about the band's new album and tour, and maybe even wind up in the front row at the Hollywood Bowl," said Tony Dimitriades, Petty's longtime manager.

The arrangement with Tribune Co. is notable at least in part because Petty has long been circumspect when it comes to commerce and his music. As the Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot noted in 2007, "He has never allowed one of his songs to appear in an advertisement (and) has refused to tour with corporate sponsors."

"The Last DJ" was widely perceived as a slam on corporate media and its stifling influence on the music business. The Orlando Sentinel's Jim Abbott wrote at the time of its release that "the topic (was) more timely than ever in this era of bottom-line media consolidation."

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