EMI PLANS PLANET HOLLYWOOD LABEL: RECORD MARKETER'S VENTURE PART OF PUSH TO 'TAKE MUSIC TO CONSUMER'

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EMI-Capitol Entertainment Properties, the marketing unit of EMI Recorded Music, has signed a deal with Planet Hollywood to launch a new record label.

The label will be called either Planet Hollywood Music or Planet Music, with offerings to include movie-inspired compilations and possibly sound tracks from films starring the restaurant chain's celebrity stockholders, Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone.

The label's March launch is timed to coincide with the Academy Awards. Its products will be sold through Planet Hollywood restaurants and music retailers.

The venture also will look to create products inspired by Planet Hollywood's sister brands, All-Star Cafe and a new chain of live music venues tentatively called Asylum, a partnership with MTV Networks.

SAATCHI HIRED

EMI-Capitol Entertainment Properties also has hired Saatchi & Saatchi Entertainment, Los Angeles, to help it craft a marketable brand identity for itself distinct from EMI. The agency, in turn, has brought in Global Business Networks, a San Francisco-based consultancy, to identify emerging cultural and technological trends.

To learn more about music consumers, EMI-Capitol Entertainment Properties inked a deal with financial services marketer MBNA for a co-branded Visa card. The card is now being trumpeted via inserts in 5 million CDs offered in a retail promotion called "Sale of the Century."

Long-term plans call for credit cards based on EMI/Capitol artists, such as the Beatles and Tina Turner.

"Our objective is to know every one of our consumers," said Bruce Kirkland, the unit's president. "We sell 25 million units every year, and we don't know who our consumers are. But credit card companies know their customers intimately."

'BLOCKBUSTER AGE'

Much has been written about the decline in overall album sales and the difficulty of today's best-selling artists to maintain sales performance. Mr. Kirkland attributes some of this to the hit-driven "blockbuster age" of entertainment.

EMI-Capitol is positioning itself as a more capable marketing partner for artists by being more pro-active. Instead of focusing on the sell-in and relying on retailers, radio or MTV to push its product, as it would in the past, EMI is now investing in the sell-through.

"We are committed to taking music to the consumer instead of vice versa," said Mr. Kirkland.

The unit also is charged with developing new brands. And plans are in the works for a retail chain inspired by EMI's Ultralounge label of vintage swing music.

It also will market a new Ultralounge spin-off label called Coolsville, to which contemporary swing-inspired acts will be signed. Its first artists: Flying Neutrinos and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

EMI isn't alone in adopting these kind of tactics.

SONY, BMG EFFORTS

Sony Signatures, the licensing unit supporting Sony Corp.'s movie and music businesses, adopted an integrated marketing model that markets a range of content generated by its artists, from merchandise to music to concerts.

BMG Entertainment has supported its Arista, RCA and Windham Hill record labels with integrated programs that have tapped the company online and publishing

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