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U2 signs on with Live Nation

U2 has become the latest act to put the majority of its music business enterprises under the Live Nation umbrella.

The superstar rock band and the promotions giant have agreed to enter into a 12-year contract that covers touring, merchandising and the band's website, according to a press release. U2's longstanding pact with Universal Music for recording and publishing will not be affected.

The deal locks in an already longstanding relationship between the parties: Live Nation or its predecessors have produced and promoted every worldwide U2 tour since 1997, and a Live Nation subsidiary already manages the band's website, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"It has long been our intention to consolidate and extend our relationship with U2, so this is a very exciting deal for us," Live Nation Artists CEO Michael Cohl said in a statement. "The band has always been forward-thinking and as one of our original and most successful artists, we are delighted to be able to work with them for many years into the future."

U2's Bono added, "We've been dating for over 20 years now; it's about time we tied the knot."

He also said one of the band's goals with the new deal is to improve its website.

"We want a closer, more direct relationship between the band and its audience, and Live Nation has pledged to help us with that," Bono said in a statement.

Last fall, when Madonna signed a ground-breaking, all-encompassing deal with Live Nation (including recorded music), the company said it expected the partnership to attract other acts to the new music-business model. Maddy's 10-year deal was reported to be worth $120 million, with the same rights Live Nation is getting from U2 worth about $70 million, according to the Journal. The terms of the U2 deal have not been disclosed, as the agreement has not yet been finalized.

With the shifting landscape of the music business, Live Nation's new model includes a one-stop shop for entertainers, with divisions for recorded music, merchandise, fan websites, broadcast/digital media rights, sponsorship and marketing. The company plans to further expand its influence by parting ways with the nation's biggest ticket seller, Ticketmaster, at the end of this year and launching its own competing ticket service, according to the Journal.

Having a client like U2 to help launch a new ticketing business would be quite a coup, as the band's most recent outing was the highest-grossing worldwide concert tour of 2005, with nearly 3.5 million tickets sold, according to concert industry trade publication Pollstar.

U2 has been in the news lately for its "U23D" concert film, which creators have described as "the first live-action movie shot and exhibited in breakthrough digital 3D." The film, captured during the South American leg of U2's Vertigo Tour, is currently playing in movie theaters around the world.

In November, the band marked the 20th anniversary of its hugely successful 1987 album, "The Joshua Tree," by issuing an expanded, remastered, three-disc version of the set that includes a DVD recorded live in Paris. U2 is currently working on the followup to its most recent studio album, 2004's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb."

U2's 11 studio albums have sold in excess of 140 million copies worldwide and garnered 22 Grammy awards, according to a press release.

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