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NEW YORK (Billboard) - Fans of Atlantic Records acts like T.I., Shinedown and Simple Plan need only start up their computer to connect with their favorite artist, via Fanbase, a new application created by the label, Billboard has learned.
The software uses Adobe AIR runtime technology to engage fans directly on their desktop: No Googling, repetitive clicking or downloading required. The so-called RIA -- rich Internet application -- merges an imeem music player, video content from YouTube and Brightcove, and a Meebo chat feature, plus up-to-date info on tour dates and new releases, into a single window.
Simple Plan's Fanbase application launches Monday (July 28), with other artists to follow in the coming weeks.
"I like it because it's an aggregator; it brings everything that's online about us to one place," says Simple Plan drummer Chuck Comeau. "It's kind of funny to say that surfing the Web is not convenient anymore, but it's even faster than that on your desktop."
Fanbase is the result of six months of development within Atlantic's new-media department, creative director of digital media Eric Snowden says.
According to Snowden, the decision to aggregate pre-existing technologies, rather than create new ones, was made early in the program's development.
"I was thinking, 'OK, are we going to build a chat app? That doesn't make sense,"' he says. "Meebo's chat is better than any chat that Atlantic Records will ever build. I think that's a mistake that a lot of companies make: They want to own every little piece of everything. I thought it was better to reach out to these people who are amazing at these specific things and try to bring them all together, as opposed to trying to hack something together in-house."
Fanbase was tested with members of Simple Plan's fan club earlier this month. "The reaction so far has been great," Comeau says.
"When you think about it, MySpace isn't the greatest place for one-on-one interaction with other fans," Snowden says. "If I go to Simple Plan's MySpace page, there's not really a way to have a direct conversation with another fan. We can both post comments, but beyond that it kind of falls off a bit. I think we're in a position to be able to help people make better connections."
For Atlantic, Fanbase is one piece -- albeit a large one -- of a bigger technology puzzle.
"We're looking at different solutions on the CD -- maybe Fanbase becomes part of that," Snowden says. "We're looking at stuff for mobile phones, from simple WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) sites to more advanced interfaces like a version of Fanbase on a phone. So it's more about letting fans do what they want to do with the artists, no matter where they are, and tailoring the content to different devices."