Tommy Hilfiger is attempting to parlay its expertise at detecting fashion trends into picking hot, new music artists.

Through a partnership with Sony BMG, the U.S. designer clothing firm today launched a Web portal, TommyTV, which it says will expose both rising artists and established stars to an international audience.

TommyTV has four main channels, respectively focusing on auditions for new artists; live performances and interviews with frontline Sony BMG acts; the Hilfiger Sessions; and the MyTommyTV area, which allows users to create playlists and sign-up for news updates.

The Hilfiger Sessions, now in its third year, will be a key strand to the service. Over the past year, performances in 50 venues, with capacities of up to 600, have been taped for the site, with Wyclef Jean and Kelly Rowland among the talent taking part.

The fashion firm has also partnered with YouTube and Joost to feature TommyTV content in online communities worldwide.

The TommyTV service is 100% owned by Tommy Hilfiger, and was designed in mind "to share my own love of music and style with a global audience," said company founder Hilfiger, who was on hand at a media gathering at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in central London today. Financial details of the site launch were not disclosed.

Hilfiger, who was flanked by the company's CEO Fred Gehring and Sony BMG Continental Europe president Maarten Steinkamp, drew parallels between the music and fashion industries. "Rock 'n' roll is about change," noted Hilfiger, a self-confused music fan. "If you look at Bono, Madonna over the years and how they changed their looks as well to stay on top. As a rock star you need to be able to reinvent yourself to remain relevant. And that applies to both your music and your style. As a creative person it is important to be able to embrace change."

The band and brand tie-in, said Steinkamp, represented the "sweet-spot" for Sony BMG's artist strategy. "We want to be in this for the long run to help the artists, find new artists and to showcase them around the world." He added, "If we don't find an artist in the first five-six months, it is not a failure."

For the time being, TommyTV's goal is simply to reach its target audience through the music offering. But down the path, the service may add-on features, such as selling content. "We have more plans than the technology can manage," Gehring said.

Although the arrangement features Sony BMG as the only music partner, other labels may yet be brought into the mix. Gehring tells Billboard.biz talks will be held to discuss the participation of other labels. "[TommyTV] need some critical mass," Steinkamp tells Billboard.biz. "They need to be able to rely on a flow of genuine talent which I'm sure we can offer them. And also, we don't want to be in control over everything."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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