Finalized deal feeds distrib pipeline

ORLANDO, Fla. — Richard Branson’s V2 Records has officially pacted with BMG Distribution to handle the growing label’s releases. With the stroke of a pen, Branson has turned his independent label into a major player, while giving BMG a much-needed source of current rock-tinged repertoire for its distribution pipeline.

The multiyear deal had been anticipated (Daily Variety, March 10), and capped a seven-month pursuit of V2 by Pete Jones, prexy of BMG Distribution.

BMG topped such established stalwarts as Polygram and WEA, presently the industry’s top distribution outfit, in landing the label that marks Branson’s return to the music business after an almost three-year absence.

“Our picking BMG for V2 is a testament to the depth of support Pete has at every level in his company,” Dan Peck, prexy of V2, told Daily Variety. “We were impressed with the organization, its reputation in the retail community and the enthusiasm its execs had for our artists.”

First offerings under the agreement will be new discs by Jungle Brothers and Ambersunshower, artists inked to Gee Street Records, an arm of V2.

“We’ve always felt that V2 was a label we wanted to be in business with,” Jones told Daily Variety. “With Dan and Jeremy Pearce (V2 Group COO) running V2, we know we are in for a rewarding experience.”

The deal is a tremendous feather in the collective cap of BMG North America, which under the aegis of CEO Strauss Zelnick has been steadily and precipitously growing its business and reputation as a result of making smart, marquee-value deals.

V2 Records Group, the parent of V2 Records, was launched officially by Branson on Nov. 21 in London.

It currently has deals in place with growing labels Big Cat, Flydaddy and Gee Street, with the latter’s roster also boasting PM Dawn, RZA and New Kingdom, whose albums will fill the BMG pipeline.

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