Also music stars cut remix for Haiti relief

Bravado, the global music merchandising arm that operates as part of the Universal Music Group, has signed R&B divas Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston to create merchandise in support of their recent album releases and concert tours.

Given the dip in album sales in recent years, touring and related merchandise sales have become increasingly key in generating revenue for the labels and their artists. Bravado — whose roster also includes Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Pink, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and Elton John — generates several hundred million dollars annually from sales of T-shirts, caps, posters, coffee mugs and other branded merchandise.

That piece of the concert pie “is sizable,” according to Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of PollStar, the concert tracking Website, especially “for artists who might not make a lot of money from just ticket sales.”

Carey’s North American tour kicked off New Year’s Eve and will continue through February. Rihanna’s tour is currently being booked, with dates announced in Europe. Keys will begin her international “Freedom Tour” Feb. 28 in Montreal, Canada, while Houston’s world tour launches this month in Japan and ends in Helsinki, Finland in June.

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The celebrity drumbeat for Haiti relief continues. A version of the Who’s “My Generation” has been remixed by will.i.am, with the help of guitarist Slash, and will be broadcast during the Super Bowl, where the Who will perform at halftime. The tune will be made available by iTunes to raise money for Haiti earthquake relief.

In related news, the music of the Who will provide the material for a tribute concert at Carnegie Hall on March 2, which will raise money for six music education charities in New York. Artists participating include Bobby McFerrin, Sondre Lerche, Robyn Hitchcock, the Smithereens and Mose Allison.

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