Let the Experimentation Begin: EMI Music Splashes EMI.com

EMI Music is now unwrapping a revamped EMI.com, an experimental destination designed to deliver content, foster discovery, and tighten fan relationships.

The beta-stage site features content from a range of EMI artists, both past and present.  Typical artist collateral includes track clips, videos, biographies, discographies, and images.  “EMI.com is designed to be a learning lab,” explained Alex Haar, vice president of Digital Special Projects at EMI Music.  “It will help us gain even more knowledge about consumer preferences and choices.”

The site architecture is pretty straightforward, at least in its initial iteration.  The broader roadmap is a bit difficult to decipher at this stage, 

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though the label pointed to continued upgrades ahead.  That includes widgeting functionality, ecommerce components, and exclusive content.  “This is the beginning of a longer-term experiment,” Haar continued.  “In the coming months, we will continue to add content and features to the site.”

The testbed fits into a newer attitude at EMI Music, one that includes digitally-focused approaches from executives like Douglas Merrill (Google) and Cory Odrejka (Second Life).  Both are strong proponents of data-driven decision-making, an approach that takes advantage of unprecedented levels of fan information and tracking.  But whether a label-branded destination is the best place to understand the fan 

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remains questionable, especially given the branding backseat that major labels assume.

On a deeper level, the new executive set faces an incredibly difficult challenge.  After all, understanding fans is one thing; getting them to buy stuff is quite another.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking loudly, thanks to an accelerating nosedive in the core CD.  That is putting the pressure on executives like Merrill to create Google-like moments, quickly.

EMI Music has been reshaping its executive cast, though outsiders appear to be playing a heavy hand in EMI.com.  According to the label, EMI.com was designed and implemented by Shamsa Rana, managing director of Imdad Capital Ltd.  On its website, Imdad describes itself as a “strategic advisory and turnaround” firm, one focused on privately-owned media companies.  “Imdad prefers to work with the portfolio companies of private equity houses and/or those companies that are privately owned,” the company describes.  “Private companies on the whole have a stronger appetite to drive through change.”

Imdad appears to be a one-woman show, based on website information, though digital media firm Perform is credited with building the site.