UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP LAUNCHES UNIVERSAL MUSIC MEDIA
Soul 70’s Collection Starring Isaac Hayes Airs Worldwide
September 30, 2005, New York, New York…In a move which underscores its commitment to expanding the marketplace for its artists and their music, Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company, today launched Universal Music Media, its new direct response television venture through which it will produce and distribute full length music and video infomercial programming worldwide.
As the first major music company to enter the $256 billion-per-year infomercial industry, UMG will leverage the world’s largest music catalog to create innovative television programming. Universal Music Media, which will be based in New York City, will be headed by infomercial pioneer Ira Pittelman, who founded Heartland Music with Larry Welk, Jr.. Under Mr. Pittelman’s leadership, Heartland Music sold in excess of 100 million CDs, cassettes and vinyl LPs through hundreds of regular commercials and acclaimed infomercial productions. Since then, Mr. Pittelman has been among the chief innovators in the infomercial industry, successfully developing and producing numerous music related infomercials that have resulted in sales in excess of $200 million.
The first program from Universal Music Media will be the Soul 70’s Collection, starring legendary soul man Isaac Hayes. Hosted by Mr. Hayes, the 30-minute television program will air nationally this month, offering an entertaining and visual historical account of the music of the 70’s featuring chart-topping hits from such seminal artists as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, Barry White, Al Green, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores and Gladys Knight, among dozens of others. The 9-CD set, Soul 70’s Collection, will be available for purchase throughout the program.
“We are committed to finding new ways to bring our music to consumers, and direct response infomercials are emerging as a powerful platform for marketing our music and expanding our audience,” stated Zach Horowitz, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of UMG. “There could be no better person to lead this venture for us than Ira Pittelman; he is one of the chief architects of the business and his track record of success is extraordinary and unmatched.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ira for the better part of two decades, and in that time, he has proven himself to be a fantastic strategic partner for me and for all of UMG,” commented Bruce Resnikoff, President of Universal Music Enterprises (UMe). “Infomercials have become an effective and innovative way to reach consumers, especially those in the elusive 35-year-old-plus demo. Universal Music Media represents a critical step in our continued efforts to gain increased exposure for our artists and their catalogs nationally.”
“I am thrilled to be starting the next phase of my career alongside such incredible executives as Doug Morris (Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group), Zach, Bruce and the entire UMG team,” added Mr. Pittelman. “We share the same business philosophy and are committed to constantly cultivating new avenues of exposure for music. I believe that our partnership will yield immediate and far-reaching results.”
According to the Electronic Retailing Association, infomercials are a $256 billion-per-year industry. Of that figure, the association estimates that consumers last year spent over $100 billion on products advertised on 30-minute infomercials.
Mr. Pittelman, a twenty-year veteran of the television and Broadway industries, founded Heartland Music in 1982, producing and directing direct response television music collections. Under his direction, Heartland quickly became the leading television music catalog and direct television response company, selling tens of millions of CDs, tapes and vinyl albums from such artists as Elvis Presley, John Denver, Johnny Mathis, Alabama and George Strait, among many others. In 1996, Mr. Pittelman sold Heartland to Time Life. During his tenure at Time Life, Mr. Pittelman produced a number of highly successful infomercial programs including The Fabulous Fifties (hosted by Regis Philbin) and The Classic Rhythm & Blues (hosted by Smokey Robinson), which have collectively sold in excess of two million sets (10 CD sets that retail for $129.00).
In the last five years, Mr. Pittelman has also emerged as one of Broadway theater’s most accomplished producers, widely known for his Tony Award-winning drama Private Lives, and TopDog/UnderDog, the latter of which won the Pulitzer Prize for Best Play. Among his many other box-office smashes are The Iceman Cometh (starring Kevin Spacey) Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party (Starring Henry Winkler and John Ritter) and Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme. Currently, Mr. Pittelman, along with partner Emanuel Azenberg, is producing Broadway’s most anticipated new production of The Odd Couple, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
Universal Music Group is the world’s largest music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 77 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, 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.