ATLANTA A new TLC song, "I Need That," was made available
for free download Monday (Sept. 27) at MP3.com as part of a tour-sponsorship
package between the popular R&B band and the Internet music company.
"It is very important to reach as many people as we can," TLC member
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins said at a rainy press conference Monday afternoon
atop the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. "With MP3.com, we can do that all
across the world."
The R&B trio also will be reaching people around the world with an arena
tour scheduled to start Oct. 15 in Montreal. Dates for the tour, which
also was announced Monday, weren't made immediately available, but TLC
manager Bill Diggins said it will hit the United States on Oct. 20 and
remain in the country until December, when the first leg will end with
a hometown show in Atlanta.
After a holiday break, the band plans to tour through Europe in January
and February, Southeast Asia in March and April, and return to the U.S.
for more shows next summer.
It will be TLC's first headlining tour, and their first tour in five years.
Destiny's Child will open the initial U.S. tour leg. TLC member Rozonda
"Chilli" Thomas said earlier that teen-pop singer Christina Aguilera also
will open for TLC, but she was not named as part of the tour on Monday.
TLC, whose third album, Fanmail (1999), has sold 3.6 million copies,
are one of the biggest artists to post music on MP3.com, a popular website
that alienated the download-wary record industry early on.
In recent months, the site has struck deals with Alanis Morissette, Tori
Amos and the Goo Goo Dolls, but those artists have made or, in
the Goo Goos' case, plan to make their music available only in
streaming form, meaning listeners can't keep a copy.
Independent rap entrepreneur Master P has posted his own music and that
of Snoop Dogg on the site, and rocker Tom Petty posted a single, "Free
Girl Now," at MP3.com for two days earlier this year.
MP3.com, which also will sell advance tickets for the tour and operate
chats and contests, plans to donate 10 cents to the Sickle Cell Disease
Association of America each time "I Need That" is downloaded.
MP3.com chief executive officer Michael Robertson said the site is hoping
for 1 million downloads by Oct. 1, which would translate to $100,000 for
the association. T-Boz, who has sickle-cell anemia, has been the association's
national spokesperson for the past two and a half years.
The tour will be a "Broadway-meets-concert" spectacle, according to TLC's
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes.
"It will be very visual, and there are several messages we will be trying
to get across," Lopes said.
TLC designed the stage and all the costumes for the tour, which Diggins
says will play arenas.
TLC's Fanmail spent several weeks at the top of the Billboard
200 albums chart in the winter and spring. It includes the #1 pop hit
"No Scrubs" (RealAudio
Rico Lumpkins, who produced "I Need That" for Dallas Austin's DARP
production company, described the song as "more R&B than hip-hop." It
was recorded exclusively for the MP3.com promotion.
T-Boz said in addition to raising money, she hopes the single will pique
fans' curiosity about sickle-cell anemia, a blood disease that mostly
"I'm working to build awareness," she said. "I'm 29, but I wasn't fully
diagnosed until I was 28, so we really need to raise the awareness of
other people out there that could have this disease."
The disease lies dormant until it is triggered by various things,
including stress. When the disease flares up, it causes red blood cells
to re-form into a "sickle" shape, resulting in severe pain and soreness
throughout the body.
The disease forced Watkins to miss several dates of TLC's 1992 tour, on
which they opened for Hammer.
"I'm trying to stay stress-free now, but in this business, that's very
hard," T-Boz said. "Still, I try. Right now, I'm as healthy as I've ever
been in my life."
Robertson said MP3.com plans to continue its Dime-a-Download program with
other artists in the future. Artists will post an exclusive track on MP3.com,
and MP3.com will give a dime per download to a charity of the artist's
choice, he said.
"Dime-a-Download breaks the seal on great new music and cuts the ribbon
on a new way for companies to donate and raise money for charities," he