Cannes, France – January 23, 2006: Universal Music Group is set for a flying start with its new venture Apollo, a forward-thinking, multi-territory label with the infrastructure to capitalise on the biggest one-off hits from across Europe.

The label is launching with DJ Meck’s ‘Thunder In My Heart Again’, a reworking of Leo Sayer’s disco track from 1977. The track is on course to be a smash after being heavily championed by Radio 1 in the UK – more than a month ahead of its release.

Apollo is the brainchild of former Mercury Records UK executive vice-president Matt Jagger and Universal Music UK divisional director of New Media Rob Wells. Jagger says: “We believe that with the advent of digital music platforms music will increasingly be sold track-by-track and we want to take advantage of that.”

The venture is split into two parts: Apollo Recordings and Apollo Digital. Apollo Recordings is a three-way joint venture between Island Universal UK, Universal Music France and Universal Music Germany. It has two label imprints: Apollo itself for dance and urban releases (‘MYNC Project’, ‘Route 33’ and Ibiza Record of the Year ‘Body Language’ by Mandy v Bookashade are already lined up alongside DJ Meck); and Europa for Europop records which so far include a track from Infernal and Romanian Summer smash ‘Morandi’.

The emphasis for both Apollo Recordings imprints is one-off tracks, although there is the potential for signings to evolve into album projects.

Max Hole, UMGI’s executive vice president of marketing and A&R, says: “The forming of Apollo will enable us, for the first time, to really coordinate our activities internationally in the dance music arena. Matt Jagger has already assembled a number of key decision makers within our companies across the world so that we will be able to move faster than anyone else.”

Frank Briegmann, President & Ceo Universal Music Germany says: “The fact that three key territories (UK, France and Germany) are working together on Apollo is very unique, results in a stronger market influence and assures us the lead in the developing digital markets.”

Apollo Digital dovetails into Universal Music’s existing Digital Services model, with the focus on distributing third party dance and urban labels digitally in the UK. Apollo will also work with name DJs and brands to turn them into digital “shop fronts” for both Apollo and third party repertoire.

Rob Wells says: “Creating a label like Apollo makes sense as the digital platforms and dance music are both essentially single-track businesses. We firmly believe the hottest dance tracks can sell a million units across all platforms – physical, download, ringtones and video.”

Jagger adds: “The digital strategy is key to Apollo, given the strength of dance and urban music on-line and as repertoire for new revenue streams including ringtones and video downloads.”

Before joining Universal in January 2003, Matt Jagger was ceo of the Ministry Of Sound music group, and before that worked in management and as an independent music lawyer. He also ran his own label and publishing company. Alongside Jagger as managing director, the Apollo team comprises James Goodhall as A&R, former Ministry of Sound general manager Ewan Grant as marketing manager and Dan Stevens as new media/label manager.