Red, Hot And Global
New WMI Team Works Chili Peppers’ First Live Set
BY EMMANUEL LEGRAND
LONDON—Outside America, the world’s album charts are about to become redder, hotter – and live.
The latest album by Red Hot Chili Peppers reflects their status as one of the most successful rock attractions on live stages internationally. But despite the set’s global chart-topping capability, it is not for U.S. consumption.
The band played to more than 900,00 people during an international tour covering a mere 14 dates in May and June. That jaunt took in many major cities in Europe and Japan.
The highlight of the Clear Channel Entertainment promoted tour was a three-night stint at a specially built outdoor arena in London’s Hyde Park, where the group attracted a total of 258,000 people for the June 19, 20 and 25 gigs (On the Road, Billboard, July 10)
Just five weeks after that event, Warner Music International released the band’s new set, “Live in Hyde Park.” July 26 in Europe and Aug. 2 in other territories. It is the act’s first live album. It is also the first major project handled by WMI’s new global marketing team. “When the [Hyde Park] shows were put together, we spoke to the band’s manager [Peter Mensch of QPrime] about releasing a live album from the show,” London-based WMI executive VP of marketing John Reid says. “It just happened that the shows were so successful that they broke all records. The album documents a fairly unique event.”
New York-based Mensch says the album-release pattern follows the route of the tour.
“We’re putting it out where they played,” he says. “This is like a souvenir of the show, a record for the people who went to see them. We thought it was a cool idea.”
“Live in Hyde Park” will not be released in the United States or in Latin America because the group did not play there on this tour, Mensch says.
Reid says WMI’s new global marketing structure is tailored for such projects as the Peppers’ album.
The company has always aimed to maximize the potential of its albums and catalog, he says. That attitude bore fruit in the week following the Hyde Park shows, when the band had no less than four titles in the Official Chart Co.’s top 75 albums chart.
“In the past, we were fairly effective, but I want to bring in speed and the ability to react quickly,” Reid says. “We will work fewer records harder and increase the focus. We have a small priority list. We owe it to artists to give more than a shot, try harder, be smarter, quicker and deliver a better service.”
Mensch says, “John is a good marketing guy. The changes are fine by me.
My feeling is that if we make good records, people will buy them.”
WMI chairman/CEO Paul-Rene Albertini announced Reid’s promotion in May. At that time, he said the role of the former WEA London Records U.K. managing director was to be “the champion of repertoire exploitation” internationally for U.S., British and non-Anglo-American product with the potential for global development He is also responsible for introducing non-U.S. repertoire to Warner Music’s U.S. labels.
British repertoire was previously worked internationally by a team directly attached to Warner Music U.K. The new WMI structure—recently moved west from central London to Warner House in the city’s Kensington district—now incorporates international exploitation of British-signed
repertoire and the marketing of global priorities into one team.
Reid calls his team “lean and mean.” It consists of 18 people, working front-line and back-catalog material. He has structured it by repertoire source, echoing Warner Music Group’s setup with Atlantic and Warner in the United States.
The Atlantic team at WMI in London is headed by Dion Singer, who handles the U.S. product coming from Atlantic, as well as British repertoire. An executive responsible for the Warner stream will be appointed shortly.
Projects on the Warner Music global priority list are the major focus for WM1. Reid says his team is concentrating its efforts on releases by Muse, Jet, the Streets, Brandy and the Darkness. Upcoming key releases for fourth-quarter 2004 include albums from R.E.M., Enya, Staind, Laura Pausini and Alejandro Sanz.
However, he is keen to point out that the emphasis on priority acts does not prevent other albums from enjoying international development throughout Warner companies around the globe.
“Some [currently successful’ projects like Michael Buble started to exist outside the priority-list system,” he says.
“We work with repertoire owners and look at the ways to build an environment for their artists,” Reid adds. He says he aims to ad as an interface between repertoire owners and the territories working the projects.
“We trust the territories, they know their markets; it is up to us to help them do their job better,” Reid says. “Sometimes central functions can be bureaucratic, but when done properly, it can be helpful.”