HITS Daily Double


Megastore’s Site Strikes Up Alliance With Amazon.com for Co-Branded Site
Virgin Entertainment Group, North America and Amazon.com have announced a strategic alliance—which in most cases means a drunken embrace followed by a press release—for the relaunching of virginmega.com as a co-branded site using Amazon’s array of e-commerce goodies.

As part of the "multiyear" agreement, Amazon has taken over inventory, fulfillment, customer service and other custodial functions for the site, which will vend DVDs, books and games as well as CDs. Whether this includes snickering when you ask if they have that Totally '80s compilation remains to be seen.

Virgin Entertainment Group, Japan will, in turn, launch a site with amazon.co.jp later this year. The working title for that enterprise is Happy Music Virgin Pop Tiny Mega Apple Amazon Time. But let’s get back to stateside news.

In keeping with the overly familiar, vaguely Hal 2000-ish Amazon.com tradition, the new site knows returning users’ names and has "recommendations" for them. It will also have lots of news, contests and info about in-stores and other appearances.

"The aim is to replicate the Virgin Megastore browsing experience online," shouted Virgin Entertainment Group CEO/founder Richard Branson from a hot-air balloon somewhere over the Caspian Sea. "We will continue to provide music and entertainment consumers with the ultimate choice and convenience and purchasing. This allows us to cater not only to the casual buyer to whom convenience is important, but also to the most discerning and knowledgeable music and entertainment fans. I say, would you mind having a supply plane drop some more kippers? I’m down to my last dozen tins."

"Virgin’s Megastores are leaders in the physical world of music and entertainment," added Amazon CEO/founder Jeff Bezos, "and they share our passion for providing music, movie and book fans with a great customer experience. And if I make it home alive from this balloon trip, I plan to check it out myself."

Virgin got out of the e-commerce business during the dot-com meltdown, using its site purely for marketing purposes. Its new partnership with the most successful entertainment e-tailer will be a trial balloon in more ways than one. Meanwhile, the likely impact of last week’s controversial decision regarding Webcasting fees (see story, 6/21) on virginmega’s streaming online radio remains unknown.