Celtic goes global in U Music deal

Universal Music Group has inked Celtic Heartbeat Records, one of the world’s foremost labels for Celtic and traditional Irish music, to a worldwide pact. The label will bring its entire back catalog to Universal, which includes music from Bill Whelan’s Grammy-winning “Riverdance.”

Under terms of the pact, the Dublin-based label will locate and sign artists, while being provided with marketing, promo and sales support through Universal Records in the U.S. and from Universal Music Intl. abroad.

Celtic’s move to Universal had been expected (Daily Variety, May 5). The label hopes to tap into the more than 85 million Irish-Americans in the U.S. with such releases as the choral group Anuna, Frances Black and an updated version of the “Riverdance” disc.

Celtic was founded in 1995 by Paul McGuinness, manager of U2, artist manager Dave Kavanagh and Barbara Galavan, who will serve as managing director of the label.

“I’m extremely pleased to be reunited with Paul, Dave and Barbara. I feel that they have been responsible for driving the current popularity of Celtic music,” said Doug Morris, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group.

Morris brought Celtic Heartbeat into the Atlantic Records fold in 1995. The label was jettisoned by Atlantic late last year as part of a restructuring.

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