Classics record label to include new recordings

A correction was made to this article on Oct. 31.

VH1 Classic is betting that the artistic well has not run dry for the 1970s and ’80s artists that fill the channel’s video rotation: The MTV Network is expanding its VH1 Classics record label to include new recordings.

The first disc of all-new material will come from Shaw/Blades, a band led by Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blade of Night Ranger. Release is slated for the first quarter.

Prior to that release, Twisted Sister will release a holiday album with indie imprint Razor & Tie and VH1 Classic as a key marketing partner. Today, VH1 Classics is releasing on DVD “Kissology,” featuring TV appearances in 1974 and 1975 and concert footage from 1976 and ’77. Second and third volumes will be released next year.

All VH1 Classic releases will be distributed by Universal Music’s Fontana arm. Their deal commences with the Kiss set.

“We’re not necessarily saying we’re getting in the record business. It’s that a lot of artists tell us ‘look, we’ve got a finished album sitting on the shelf and we’d like to get it released’,” VH1 general manager Tom Calderone told Daily Variety. “We’re already in business with them and they do so much work for us, hosting shows or doing performances, that this is an extension of that relationship. Nobody says ‘you have to sell X amount.’ This is a goodwill gesture.”

MTV Networks has also struck a deal with Wal-Mart to have branded sections in the stores’ CD departments. The VH1 Classic area will promote albums on the label, catalog recordings and new albums from so-called “heritage” artists.

Eric Sherman, senior VP and general manager of VH1 Classic, said the label came together after studying the health of catalog sales and after talking to managers about artists such as Shaw and Blade who were still touring regularly. VH1 Classic was already a steady presence in tour sponsorship.

“We have the marketing ability and really have no limits when it comes to marketing an artist or an album,” Sherman said.

For the Twisted Sister and Shaw/Blades releases, hourlong specials have already been shot, they have done “Hanging With” specials and their videos will be added to the “Classic Current” program. The acts’ songs will be featured on VH1classics.com. Acts are also part of the channel’s “Hear Music First” program.

VH1 Classic will continue to release its “Decades Live” shows as CD/DVD packages on the label. Heart is up next; a show featuring the Pretenders and guests is in negotiations. Bonnie Raitt’s “Decades Live” album was released jointly by VH1 Classic and her label, Capitol.

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