01:36 PM

The Doors Hope To Light Digital Generation's Fire

Surviving members of the 1960s iconic rock group are targeting today's youth with digital tools, products, and promotional material, as well as the promise of never-before-released content.

The Doors turn 40-years old next year, and the surviving members of the 1960s iconic rock group are targeting today's youth with ringtones, digital music, interactive videos, and never-before-released content. The band will be making available tunes and videos for download digitally to mobile phones and other wireless devices, said manager Jeff Jampol.

Promotions will run on cable television, and New Corp.'s, where several viral ads intend to showcase the band's music. Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store will continue to make some music content available, but the majority will sell through a newly revamped The Doors Web site.

"Mobile phones and computers are ways to reach kids today, connecting with them through any type of digital content," said The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek in an interview, following the Tuesday keynote at Billboard MECCA Fall 2006. The one-day event was part of CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2006 conference in Los Angeles.

Billboard director of charts and senior analyst Geoff Mayfield said digital music sales now represent roughly 5 percent of album sales, more than double from a year ago.

"It's how a younger generation defines music," Mayfield said. "For Bob Dylan's latest album, 10 percent of the first week's sales came from digital downloads. It's not unusual to see that with modern-rock bands like Cold Play."

Mayfield said Jack Johnson does well with digital music. Digital downloads contributed 26 percent to first week's sales for the Curious George soundtrack, the largest percentage to date for a No. 1 album.

As more musicians begin to roll out digital content, the Internet plays a bigger role. A number of factors contribute to rock's holdouts in taking their content online, including growing number of households with broadband Internet access, migration of youth to the Internet and cellular phones, and advertisers' interest in tapping online social networking to reach their target audience.

But for the poetic rock band The Doors, the move from vinyl to digital hasn't come without pain.

"I think we lost a generation by not building in digital rights management technology into the music sooner," Jampol said. "For this generation, the toothpaste is out of the tube. I don't know what the answers are, but I certainly know the questions."

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) estimates physical and digital album sales in 2005 fell 3.9 percent from the previous year. Pirated recordings contribute to the decline, costing the industry about $300 million in lost sales annually.

"We're concerned," Manzarek said. "I'd love it if piracy didn't exist, but that's not to be."

Mayfield said 20 years ago record companies would complain they lost as much money as they made from people pirating music on cassette tapes.

Record labels "survived, and had a lot of green years since," Mayfield said. "People were rediscovering The Doors music around that time. Then, just a few weeks ago, The Doors became our number one Top Pop Album."

The Doors recently took the No. 1 spot on Billboard`s Top Pop Catalog Albums chart for "The Best of The Doors." With total record sales of more than 75 million to date, the band continues to sell more than 1 million albums annually worldwide.

Just as The Doors opened the doors of perception, the name taken from Aldous Huxley's book Manzarek said kids today are ready to do the same, "reinvest the message of love and support" in digital music," Manzarek said "It's the old hippy philosophy, but it works."

Manzarek formed The Doors in Los Angeles, along with Jim Morrison, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger.

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The Doors manager Jeff Jampol (left) and The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek (right) at Billboard MECCA Fall 2006 in Los Angeles.

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