Verizon Wireless has partnered with Columbia Records and reunited hip-hop act the Fugees for a series of industry firsts designed to promote Verizon's new VCast music service.

Verizon Wireless has partnered with Columbia Records and reunited hip-hop act the Fugees for a series of industry firsts designed to promote Verizon's new VCast music service.

Most significantly, music from the upcoming new Fugees album will be made available exclusively to the service. Although "Take It Easy," the first track from the untitled album, is currently available at a number of digital services (including iTunes and Rhapsody), subsequent singles will be limited to VCast.

And while record labels have made a standard practice of debuting singles as ringtones, this is the first time that studio masters to an unreleased album will debut exclusively via a wireless full-song music download service. The titles of the upcoming exclusive singles have not yet been released, nor has the street date of the new album.

Additionally, Verizon is using a pre-Grammy Awards Fugees concert as a pilot program for mobile ticketing. The operator sent select subscribers a text message inviting them to the free concert, taking place Sunday (Feb. 5) in Hollywood.

Those responding received a multimedia message containing a bar code that can be scanned at a special entrance to the venue in lieu of a paper ticket.

Verizon is evaluating a rollout of the service throughout its Verizon Wireless concert venues nationwide, as well as integrating it into its Music Unleashed concert series for the acts it sponsors. Clips from the Fugees concert will be available for free to VCast subscribers as well, also an exclusive.

The use of exclusive content is considered essential to drive awareness and adoption of mobile music services. The VCast service went live only last month, with competitor Sprint operating a similar service since last November. Sprint is making the live performance of the Rolling Stones' Super Bowl halftime show available as an exclusive download of its music store, powered by Groove Mobile.

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