Web Firm Strikes Exclusive Deal With Cher

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Artistdirect will begin sending out more than 1 million e-mails next month to promote the exclusive release of Cher's upcoming album titled "Not Commercial."

The e-mail list includes addresses from Cher's fan club and addresses that Artistdirect has gathered through its 140 official merchandise Web sites for major label performers. Other promotions for the release will include ads at Yahoo, eBay, Go.com and other sites.

The album represents a collection of songs written by Cher in 1994, as well as a version of an unreleased, three-decade-old Vietnam War protest song by her late ex-husband, Sonny Bono.

The album will prove to be a moneymaker despite the dated material, because of Cher's strong following and name recognition, said Nick Turner, senior vice president of artist relations at Artistdirect. "Not Commercial" marks the first time an album by a brand-name artist will be exclusively sold by his company.

The CDs will go on sale at www.cherdirect.com, part of Artistdirect's network of performer sites, for $13.99 on Nov. 8, but fans can also place advance orders at the site. Alliance Entertainment Corp., Coral Springs, FL, fulfills orders for Artistdirect merchandise orders and will also handle the Cher CDs.

Cher is signed with Warner Brothers Music Group, New York, for an undisclosed number of albums. Warner will not get a cut for "Not Commercial" sales. Cher's camp and the record label declined to comment on their discussions concerning the exclusive release.

"I think it definitely suggests that Warner Brothers feels that the material is not commercial enough," said Jim Kendrick, entertainment lawyer with Brown Raysman Millstein Felder LLP, New York. "But, for them to allow her do this, it also shows her bargaining power and their regard for her."

Normally, major label recording artists receive less than 10 percent for each album sold. Turner wouldn't offer up sales goals or how the revenue for this record will be split. Terms of the deal between Cher and Artistdirect were not disclosed, however, he said Cher stands to take a higher percentage of the profits from this record than she has from previous efforts with the major label.

"Cher is a unique artist in that she understands the business aspects of how to use the Internet," he said.

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