Download-only reissues hit quarter-million mark; Noir Desir, Del Amitri, Mouskouri among most popular

LONDON, October 17, 2006 Online music fans have downloaded more than 250,000 tracks of previously out-of-print recordings by European artists since the launch of Universal Music’s pioneering digital catalogue reissue programme earlier this year.

Consumers bought music by a diverse, eclectic range of performers, including rock bands such as France’s Noir Desir, Germany’s Accept, and the U.K.’s Del Amitri, Cast and Eddie & the Hot Rods, as well as household names Chris De Burgh and Nana Mouskouri, and cultural icons Jacques Brel and Brigitte Bardot.

Noir Desir was the most popular act, based on the total number of tracks sold during the programme’s first seven months. The single most popular track was Gun’s 1994 U.K. top 10 hit,Word Up, and the most popular album was Big Country’s 1984 release, Steeltown.

Universal Music Group International launched its download-only reissue programme in February, as the first step in a multi-year drive to reinstate more than 100,000 European deleted recordings. The initial offering comprised more than 3,000 out-of-print tracks from the company’s vaults in the U.K., France and Germany. They were made available through online music services in 20 countries, mostly in Europe.

The repertoire drew largely from the past three decades, but stretched back to the 1960s in some cases, such as Brigitte Bardot’s interpretation of the Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg hit,Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus. This was one of the top five most popular tracks among the quarter-million downloads.

Also popular was Nana Mouskouri’s Christmas album, Les Plus Beaux Noëls Du Monde. Tracks from this 1990 release by the Greek singer (and Member of the European Parliament) sold in almost every country where the Universal Music campaign was launched and did so after the Christmas season.

Overall, these results lend weight to author Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail theory. In his recently published book of that name, Anderson contends that given the growing choice and diversity of music that is legitimately available through the Internet consumers will be increasingly drawn to recordings beyond current hits. In this scenario, the total sales of this repertoire (the long tail) can match or exceed those of the hits.

The second batch of deep catalogue reissues is due online in late November, and will include music by Maurice Chevalier, the Christians, the Frames, the Max Greger Orchestra, Mory Kante, Peter Kraus, Lulu, Baaba Maal, Robert Miles, The Orb, Henri Salvador, Savoy Brown and Charles Trenet, among many others. In addition, Decca Records will be reinstating more than 400 out-of-print classical albums.

Olivier Robert-Murphy, Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Universal Music Group International, said,It’s easy for our consumers online to find and download current artists and current hits, but through this deep catalogue reissue programme, we are now able to respond to and quantify the appetite for more eclectic, diverse recordings from the past. It’s clear that this is a ‘tail’ worth chasing.

Noir Desir
Chris de Burgh
Eddie & the Hot Rods
Del Amitri

Gun,Word Up
Eddie & the Hot Rods, Do Anything You Wanna Do
Brigitte Bardot,Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus
Freak Power,Turn On Tune In Cop Out
Cast,Guiding Star

Big Country, Steeltown
Fairport Convention, Meet On The Ledge
Jacques Brel, Ballades et Mots D’Amour
Freak Power, Drive-Thru Booty
Nana Mouskouri, Les Plus Beaux Noels du Monde

About Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group is the world’s largest music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 75 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry’s largest global music publishing operations.

Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Music Group, Deutsche Grammophon, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Geffen Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, Machete Music, MCA Nashville, Mercury Nashville, Mercury Records, Philips, Polydor Records, Universal Music Latino, Universal Motown Records Group, and Verve Music Group as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed by its record company subsidiaries around the world. The Universal Music Group owns the most extensive catalog of music in the industry, which is marketed through two distinct divisions, Universal Music Enterprises (in the U.S.) and Universal Strategic Marketing (outside the U.S.). Universal Music Group also includes eLabs, a new media and technologies division, and Universal Music Mobile.

Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi, a global media and communications company.