Band launches new site, deals with UMG, Google

Ramping up for their 50th anniversary festivities in 2012, the Rolling Stones have inaugurated a new website and lined up partnerships with Universal Music Group merchandising arm Bravado and the nascent Google Music store.

With rumors circulating over a possible anniversary tour next year — the band’s last trek pulled in $558 million — the stage is set for a flurry of live albums, reissues and merchandising from the evergreen band.

Website, the Rolling Stones Archive, is a partnership with UMG’s merch division Bravado. The Stones’ catalog is currently distributed by UMG; site’s neatly coordinated launch prefaces company’s release Monday of a deluxe edition of the top rock act’s 1978 album “Some Girls.” An expanded 2010 reissue of band’s 1972 opus “Exile On Main Street” debuted at No. 2 in the U.S.

Stones Archive will market a breadth of the group’s branded product; initial offerings include tour t-shirts, boxed set editions and lithographs.

The Stones Archive’s first audio release is “The Brussels Affair,” a 15-track set drawn from two 1973 Belgian shows. Set is being sold exclusively in the U.S. via Google’s Android Market musicstore, which launched last week (Daily Variety, Nov. 17), for $4.99, and through the Stones’ site internationally.

An ongoing flow of freshly unearthed Stones music can be anticipated as the band approaches the half-century mark. Android Market, which is using group’s exclusive product as a high-profile part of its launch campaign, promised “more exclusive treasures from the Stones’ live vaults in the coming months.”

The Stones Archive could see a major lift if the veteran band takes to the road next year. Guitarist Keith Richards has reportedly summoned the group — including departed members Taylor and Bill Wyman — for an exploratory jam session in London. However, lead vocalist Mick Jagger’s involvement remains a question mark.

Stones’ 2005-07 “A Bigger Bang” tour was only recently supplanted as the highest-grossing jaunt of all time by U2’s recently completed 360 tour.

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