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LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. fashion company Tommy Hilfiger and music group Sony BMG teamed up on Wednesday to launch a fashion and music online TV website, a latest sign of ever closer union of the world's of style and song.
TommyTV, at www.tommytv.com, will show live performance by established and new artists sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger alongside exclusive interviews and backstage footage.
Designer Tommy Hilfiger, dapper in a pin stripe suit and orange tie, said the site would also host the Hilfiger Auditions, an online competition where young artists can showcase their talent.
"These musicians otherwise would not have that opportunity in many cases," Hilfiger said at the launch in London which kicked off with a live act by Parisian pop duo "One-Two."
"This is a platform for new young musicians to show their talents on a global stage and have a connection with our partner Sony BMG."
Tommy Hilfiger has built a worldwide fashion brand spanning women's, men's and children's wear to accessories and watches on marketing campaigns presenting hip, image savvy U.S. teenagers.
It has already moved to develop the brand in the music arena by hosting live gigs with only a few hundreds guests known as the Hilfiger Sessions.
Tommy Hilfiger Chief Executive Fred Gehring said the launch of TommyTV in collaboration with Sony BMG, home of artists Justin Timberlake and Leona Lewis, was a unique and momentous new stage in the fusion of the fashion and music worlds.
Music-makers such as Madonna and David Bowie have long been seen as style icons, sartorial chameleons defining both themselves and their music through different looks.
"I literally became a fashion designer because of music," Hilfiger told Reuters at the launch. "Music was my first love, in the 60s - I wanted to dress like Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page."
Gehring said the site was intended as a marketing initiative to build its brand and would not be selling anything directly, although the two sides were discussing the possibility of charging for downloads in the future.
There are also links from the site through to Tommy Hilfiger's e-commerce store.
"People who go to TommyTV and spontaneously want to get a pair of Tommy jeans will be able to do it," said Gehring.
For Sony BMG, the launch marks an experiment in the art of online music marketing. Global music sales fell around 10 percent in 2007 and the industry estimates that only one in 20 of the tracks downloaded was licensed, costing the industry potentially billions of dollars.
Online music purchasing marked a symbolic milestone when Apple Inc announced last week that its iTunes music store had surpassed Wal-Mart Stores Inc to become the largest U.S. music retailer.
"We are in a moment of transition moving away from the record model to music and entertainment," Sony BMG Chief Executive Maarten Steinkam said, adding that he hoped to discover bright young things through TommyTV.
"I hope we can find a new artist out of it. If we don't find a new artist in the next five to six months, then it's not a failure," he said.
Additional reporting by Cindy Martin and Rachel Sanderson