Live 8 DVD follows big Live Aid
Going by sales for the Live Aid DVD, EMI is betting the Live 8 sequel should also hit a high note.Released through Warner Music Group’s Warner Strategic Marketing, the Live Aid DVD, shipped more than 500,000 units to retail since its Nov. 2004 release. That’s hefty for a music DVD, most of which are fortunate to do half that business.
And now EMI has agreed to a relatively huge advance and royalty rate in order to lock up the worldwide Live 8 DVD rights. Well-placed sources said EMI is paying Live 8 organizers an advance worth north of $5 million to distribute the massive concert, where blue chip acts played simultaneously around the globe July 2.
EMI also apparently signed onto a 35% royalty rate off DVD sales, which kicks in after the label makes back its advance.
Musician Bob Geldof organized Live 8 to influence the G8 summit, for which world leaders have gathered in Scotland to brainstorm ways to, among other issues, ease Third World debt and poverty. Geldof presented Live Aid, for similar humanitarian reasons, about 20 years ago.
EMI spokesman Adam Grossberg declined to provide details about the DVD negotiations but said the label did pay a “multimillion-dollar advance to the Live 8 organization, which helped make the July 2 concert possible. Once we break even [after resulting sales], there will be future contributions. It was an exceptionally generous royalty rate.”
Discs tailored to different countries are expected to land at retail in November. Starring talent should include Madonna, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Elton John. Live 8 concert organizers have pledged to give much of the rights funds to various charities. Publishers of songs performed also might be due some compensation.
Despite the deal largely going for a good cause, some labels dropped out of the bidding war because the DVD didn’t seem like a safe business bet. Most music discs wind up selling less than 100,000 units, for which a label would be lucky to earn $2 million in gross revenue. Some companies also wonder how consumer reception to Live 8 will affect future disc sales.
“Everyone hated the TV coverage,” said one label executive of the widely panned broadcasts on MTV and VH1. “This is going to be an instant release to take advantage of that event. I would say that with the amount of money involved, [EMI] won’t make money off of it. It seems backwards.”
On average, MTV‘s and VH1‘s Saturday simulcast 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET drew 2.2 million viewers on both networks, according to Nielsen Media Research. AOL‘s broadband streams captured more viewers than ABC’s two-hour highlight show Saturday. About 5 million people logged onto AOL’s coverage between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET, said spokeswoman Ann Burkart. That’s compared to the 2.9 million who tuned into ABC’s 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. telecast. For several weeks, people will be able to download Live 8 concerts through AOL for free.
There is scorching demand for Live 8 bootlegs. At an eBay auction ended July 7, bids on a Madonna Live 8 DVD went as high as $13,100. The site is working to remove the illicit items.
Retailers seem to be hoping for a repeat of Live Aid, which popped onto Amazon.com‘s Top 30 best-selling DVDs last week.
“As long as it’s not the MTV broadcast just going out on DVD, it will do fine,” Newbury Comics buyer Carl Mello said. “Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Elton John – old dependables. You’ll do fine.”
Thanks to David for the caps