Live Nation banks on Nickelback

Rock group joins company's Artists division

Nickelback has joined Madonna, Jay-Z and Shakira in the Live Nation Artists division, inking a “unified rights” deal that brings touring, merchandising and recordings under a single roof.

The band, whose last album, “All the Right Reasons,” has sold 6.8 million copies in the U.S. and remains in the top 100 after 34 months, inked with Live Nation for three albums and three touring cycles, with an option for a fourth. It is guaranteed $50 million- $70 million, though the numbers could turn out to be significantly larger.

Live Nation will operate or exercise control over the band’s touring, tour sponsorship, tour merchandise, tour VIP/travel packages, secondary ticketing, recorded music, clothing, licensing and other retail merchandise, non-tour sponsorship and endorsements, DVD and broadcast rights, fan club, website and literary rights.

Shakira struck a similar deal with the promoter last week that guarantees her at least $70 million over the course of 10 years. As a superstar in South America and Spain, the Colombian singer has expanded her reach into consumer products such as cosmetics and hair care, revenue from which will be part of this deal.

Both acts still have albums to deliver to their current labels: Nickelback owes two studio albums and a greatest hits package to Roadrunner Records, and Shakira has to deliver a Spanish-language album, an English-language album and a hits compilation to Sony. She has reportedly been working on and off since February on a new disc.

It would not be surprising if Live Nation does not issue a recording from either until 2011 or 2012. While both acts have been prolific — Nickelback has put out four studio albums since 2000 and is due to release another this year — labels are reluctant to issue albums by superstars more often than every other year.

Nickelback’s previous tour, which visited North America and Australia in 2006-07, sold more than 1.5 million tickets and grossed $67 million.

Live Nation prexy-CEO Michael Rapino said the company intends to ink up to six artists in the first year of its Live Nation Artists operation. Shakira and Nickelback are the third and fourth acts signed to the division. Neither deal had a significant upfront payment, according to a person familiar with the deals.

Rapino’s announcement clarified the company’s intentions with regards to signing acts. The subject was the cause of a major dust-up between Rapino and former Live Nation chairman Michael Cohl; Cohl was pushing for as many as 15 of these deals, while Rapino sought to put on the brakes. The company’s stock had fallen more than 40% between the time Madonna’s deal was announced in October and the confrontation between the two executives last month.

Live Nation called the Nickelback signing a “unified rights” deal, as it is one element — music publishing — shy of a full 360 deal. Warner Chappell has a long-term pact with Nickelback, and Shakira is with Sony/ATV.

On Monday, Live Nation acquired a controlling interest in the Main Square Festival held in Arras, France, bringing the company’s global portfolio of festivals to 30.

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