BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY NEWS: Clear Channel and Anheuser-Busch Renew Sponsorship Agreement (Click on More to view all articles)

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Clear Channel Entertainment and Anheuser-Busch, Inc. have renewed a three-year marketing and sponsorship agreement in which Anheuser-Busch remains the exclusive malt beverage sponsor of 28 Clear Channel Entertainment owned and/or operated amphitheaters and clubs, and the presenting sponsor of approximately 10 to 30 music concerts per year in each of those venues. The agreement, a renewal of a similar program that ran from 2000 – 2002, provides media and marketing exposure for the Budweiser and Bud Light brands at live music venues that showcase cutting-edge bands and performers all year long.

"This sponsorship allows us to continue associating our Budweiser and Bud Light brands with the excitement and popularity of live music," said Tim Schoen, vice president, Presence Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "We've enjoyed a great working relationship with the Clear Channel Entertainment team, and through this program we're able to reach millions of our consumers each year and demonstrate our longstanding commitment to music and entertainment."

By this agreement, Anheuser-Busch receives rights to advertise through venue signage, radio, TV, event programs and ticket headers, as well as on-site activation in sponsored venues for Budweiser and Bud Light. "We are thrilled that Anheuser-Busch, one of Clear Channel Entertainment's biggest clients, has renewed with us for an additional three years," stated Bruce Eskowitz, president, National Sales & Marketing, Clear Channel Entertainment. "Together we will continue to bring the best in live music to fans across the U.S."

Additionally, Clear Channel Entertainment produces Anheuser-Busch's annual convention entertainment each year. In March, John Mellencamp and Sheryl Crow performed in Dallas to 4,000 convention attendees. – By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Anheuser-Busch sponsorship markets/venues:

Boston Tweeter Center

Hartford CTNow.com

New York Roseland, Irving Plaza and Beacon Theater

Boston Fleet Boston Pavilion

Philadelphia Tweeter Center at the Waterfront

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Pavilion

Cincinnati Riverbend

Cleveland Tower City Amphitheater

Nashville Am South Amphitheater

Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

S. Florida Sound Advice Amphitheater

Chicago All-State Arena

Indianapolis Murat

Michigan Clutch Cargo, Orbit Room, St. Andrews and Slate

St. Louis UMB Bank Pavilion

Kansas City Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Houston Verizon Wireless Theater

San Antonio Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Albuquerque Journal Pavilion

Seattle White River

Phoenix Cricket Pavilion

Liberty Media Looking at Vivendi Assets

ENGLEWOOD, CO (AP) — John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media Corp., confirmed Wednesday that his company is interested in buying the U.S. entertainment assets of Vivendi Universal, the debt-ridden French conglomerate.

Malone also said the media giant could team up with another company in acquiring the Universal film studio and theme parks, the USA and Sci-Fi cable networks and other Vivendi holdings.

Answering questions after Liberty's annual shareholders' meeting, Malone said he had not specifically talked about working with Barry Diller at USA Interactive or Viacom Inc., though "all bets were open."

"We wouldn't rule out any sort of bizarre combinations," Malone said.

He refused to estimate the value of any deal with Vivendi. Liberty, based in Englewood, already holds a 3.6 percent stake in the company.

Also believed to be among possible bidders for Vivendi's assets are Edgar Bronfman Jr. of Canada's Seagram empire and U.S. oil tycoon Marvin Davis, former owner of Fox Studios. NBC owner General Electric Co. and Viacom, the owner of CBS and MTV, also have shown interest.

Liberty Media's principal assets include interests in Starz Encore, Discovery Communications, Inc., AOL Time Warner Inc., QVC, USA Interactive, Telewest Communications plc, Motorola, Inc., Sprint PCS Group and News Corp.

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On the Net:

http://www.libertymedia.com

MusicNet Offers Music in Microsoft Format

SEATTLE, Washington (AP) — Recently jilted by RealNetworks, the digital music service MusicNet is allying with RealNetworks' rival Microsoft Corp.

Digital music service MusicNet announced that its library of more than 350,000 songs from major and independent record labels are now available for download and CD burning in Microsoft's Windows Media format. Previously, the music had only been available in RealNetworks' format.

The move is designed to broaden the company's appeal to potential distributors of MusicNet's music subscription service, the company said. America Online is the only distributor of MusicNet's service, in which subscribers pay a monthly fee for access to listen to and burn music tracks onto CDs.

The move is not a dig at RealNetworks which still owns about 40 percent of MusicNet, said Ann Garrett, MusicNet's spokeswoman. In fact, MusicNet had already started the process of encoding the music files into Windows Media format before RealNetworks' announcement in April that it would buy Listen.com. RealNetworks has since dropped MusicNet's service from its subscription offerings in favor of Listen.com's Rhapsody service.

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On the Net:

http://www.musicnet.com

Best Buy Sheds Troubled Musicland Group

RICHFIELD, Minnesota (AP) — Electronics retailer Best Buy Co. said Monday it has shed its troubled Musicland Group, turning it over to Sun Capital Partners, a Florida-based private investment company. Best Buy shares rose.

Sun Capital Partners paid no cash but assumed all of Musicland's liabilities including its lease obligations.

Musicland operates around 1,100 Media Play, Sam Goody and Suncoast stores across the country. Best Buy said in March that it planned to sell the group.

Richfield-based Best Buy paid nearly $700 million for Minnetonka-based Musicland two years ago, but the group failed to meet Best Buy's expectations, especially in consumer electronics sales. When Best Buy decided to cut its losses, it cited a decline in CD sales and a slowdown in shopping mall traffic nationwide.

"We are energized by Sun Capital's record of restoring companies to profitability within its first year of ownership," said Connie Fuhrman, who remains president of Musicland. "The sale is positive news for our employees, customers and vendors."

Sun Capital Partners, based in Boca Raton, Fla., focuses on leveraged buyouts. Since it began in 1995, it has invested in more than 50 companies with combined sales of more than $7 billion, including retail and catalog companies Wickes Furniture, Bruegger's Bagels, Miles Kimball, The Mattress Firm and Nationwide Mattress and Furniture Warehouse.

"Musicland is the nation's leading entertainment software retailer with a strong, experienced management team and more than 10,000 dedicated, knowledgeable employees," said Jason Neimark, principal of Sun Capital. "We're excited to build on Musicland's long-standing vendor relationships, loyal customer base and technological infrastructure."

The transaction included all of Musicland's operating assets, except for a distribution center in Franklin, Ind., that Best Buy will continue to operate. Sun Capital said it will buy transition support services from Best Buy for up to one year, until Musicland develops long-term solutions.

In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Best Buy shares were up $2.04, or 4.9 percent, to $43.80.

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On the Net:

Best Buy Co. http://www.bestbuy.com

Sun Capital Partners: http://www.suncappart.com

Jupiter Plug.IN Conference & Expo Set for June 28-29

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Jupitermedia Corporation's Jupiter Plug.IN Conference & Expo–The Digital Music Business Event will be held July 28-29 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Now in its 8th year, Jupiter Plug.IN Conference & Expo enjoys a prestigious reputation among music industry leaders. Bringing music executives from the old and new economies together with artists and analysts, Plug.IN offers spirited debate and in-depth analysis into the business opportunities and legal issues surrounding the digital music scene. Featured keynote speakers for include: Peter Lowe, director of Marketing for Applications and Services, Apple Computer; Larry Kenswil, president, Universal Music Group, eLabs; and Chris Gorog, president and CEO of Roxio, Inc. Attendees will also hear presentations by Michael J. Bebel, president and COO of Napster; Andrew Moss, director of Technical Policy, Windows Division, Microsoft; along with representatives from Atlantic Records, VH1.com, Virgin Records America, National Association of Recording Merchandisers, Music Choice, EMI Recorded Music and Listen.com, among others.

Jupiter Plug.IN Conference & Expo is sponsored by Billboard Magazine and Jupiter Research, hosted by StreamingMediaWorld.com and NewMedia.com, and is produced by Jupitermedia Corporation. — Edited by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen.

Horovitz Stepping Down as Head of NARM

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Pamela Horovitz, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, is stepping down in mid-July, as head of the organization, a position she has held since 1989. She is leaving to become head of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, an association serving the bed-and-breakfast industry. "I look back fondly on my 17 years at NARM, and my 35 years in the music industry," says Horovitz. "It has been a privilege to do work that I loved with people who so often became friends."

"We thank Pam for her dedication and contributions to the industry, and all the positive changes that have been made under her leadership," says NARM chairman David Schlang, Alliance Entertainment. "She has helped the industry resolve issues that affected us all and made our lives easier. I know I speak for our members in wishing her all the best in her future endeavors." Schlang notes that a search committee will be formed to seek a replacement for the position.

Horovitz began her career in the music industry in 1968 as a record store sales clerk. In 1973, she joined the staff of Warner/Elektra/Atlantic, where she held a variety of sales, marketing, and promotion positions. Horovitz joined NARM in 1985 as director of special projects. She was named to the top staff position in 1989.– Edited by Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner.

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