Sean Kingston album gets fans online with karaoke

DENVER (Billboard) - Most music videos might not have the promotional impact they used to. But what about videos that make fans the star, allow them to sing with an artist and seem to pop out of the screen?

Jamaican American reggae singer and rapper Sean Kingston poses at Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California March 29, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

The CD booklet that comes with reggae fusion singer Sean Kingston’s upcoming album, “Tomorrow” (due September 22 on Epic), contains a special image that fans can hold up to their computers’ webcams to launch an “augmented reality” karaoke session on Kingston’s website.

That enables fans to use their computer’s video camera to record themselves singing “Fire Burning,” along with an animated version of Kingston called lil Sean. Lil Sean gets superimposed on existing video so that he seems to pop out of the screen, as if it’s in 3-D, and ambitious fans can even choreograph his dance moves.

Once fans finish their videos, they can post them to a social networking site, or to, where fans can vote on their favorites.

“It’s going to be dope,” says 19-year-old Kingston, whose music merges reggae with hip-hop, R&B, rock, pop, electro and other genres. “No one has done this before. It’s different and I think it’s going to blow up.”

The goal is to let the viral videos drive awareness of the album, according to Epic executive vice president of marketing Lee Stimmel.

“It’s all about the one-to-one marketing that we as labels tend to lose,” Stimmel says. “If I get a 10-year-old kid to get engaged with Sean Kingston by building a video and showing it to his buddies, I just turned on four more guys and gals to him. That has to resonate with entertainment going forward.”

The application also ties in to the broader marketing campaign behind “Tomorrow,” which will come with a 3-D poster and a pair of 3-D glasses to read it. Those glasses can also be used to view 3-D graphics on Kingston’s website. The lil Sean animated character, who will be featured on the cover of the CD, also recently appeared at the Teen Choice Awards and will be the focus of a future video.

“We felt that we had to give the consumer base a reason to buy and experience the full album instead of just songs,” Stimmel says. “Let’s engage kids in the experience of the album as opposed to the hit songs we know Sean’s going to have.”

The video application, created by Australian technology and design company Boffswana, is expected to go live by the end of the month. The symbol needed to launch it can be printed out from Kingston’s website and will also appear in the bonus PDF booklet available to those who buy the digital album from iTunes.