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EMI wins battle for DVD rights to Live 8 concerts
By Nic Hopkins
EMI has scored a coup over rival music companies by securing the DVD rights to this weekend’s Live 8 concerts after agreeing to pay several million pounds upfront to the event’s organisers, The Times has learnt.
The British music group won a hotly contested bidding war for the rights to release a DVD of the event by offering the organisers a generous cut of the profits and a large advance that will go towards paying for staging the concerts.
The worldwide event will feature a reunion of the group Pink Floyd as well as performances by artists including Coldplay, Madonna, Green Day, 50 Cent, Paul McCartney and U2. The concerts on Saturday will take place simultaneously in Hyde Park in London and cities including Philadelphia, Paris and Toronto.
The Live 8 DVD is expected to generate greater sales than the original Live Aid videos, which were published by Warner Music Group and sold more than a million units.
The more recently issued Live Aid DVD was so popular that WMG released a shortened highlights disc, profits from which are also split with the charity.
Live 8 is likely to be released on DVD in November and is expected to comprise at least two discs. Details such as price have yet to be set.
Bob Geldof, one of the event’s organisers, said: “I hope this will be the biggest selling DVD of all time. It deserves to be.”
The promoters of Live 8 will use their share of the profits from the DVDs to help to eradicate poverty and famine.
“It will help us achieve our goal of changing the lives of the extreme poor for the better and making our generation the one that helped end the disgrace of poverty,” Mr Geldof said.
The total cost of the concerts is forecast to be between £20 million and £25 million. Mr Geldof has secured a $5 million (£2.75 million) loan to underwrite the event and raised a further £10 million from sponsors and broadcasters.
Nokia, the mobile phone handset company, has signed a £5 million deal to become a global sponsor, while the BBC has paid about £2 million for the British TV rights. AOL, the internet service provider, will pay about £3 million as an official sponsor and will transmit the concerts over the internet.
The concerts are being held ahead of the G8 summit in Edinburgh, where Live 8 organisers will present world leaders with what they describe as “workable plan to double aid, drop debt and make trade laws fair”.
Tony Wadsworth, chairman and chief executive of EMI Music in the UK and Ireland, said: “The artists appearing at the Live 8 concerts represent the world’s biggest names in music and it’s a huge honour for EMI to be the company entrusted with the release of this unique project.”
More than 130,000 people are expected to attend the concert in Hyde Park, with similar numbers tipped for the Palais de Versailles in Paris and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
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