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UMG Launches Infomercial Division

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) – In the traditions of the “Thigh-Master” and “Ginzu Knives,” Universal Music Group has launched a new infomercial division to use half-hour commercials to sell it’s back catalog of ‘70s and ‘80s stars.

The company plans to make an official announcement next week, dedicating the new division to producing and distributing the 30-minute spots, according to the Los Angeles Times. The division’s first infomercial, for the Soul ‘70s Collection, is already airing in some cities.

The move, according to the paper, is in response to large retailers like Wal-Mart and Circuit City, which sell mainly current releases and very few past hits.

“The catalogs of Motown and the Soul ‘70s and Rock & Roll ‘60s are disapperaing from retail shelves,” Ira Pittelman, who will head Universal’s new division, told the paper. “TV is the best way to talk to that audience now.”

Just as MTV exposes a younger audience to new music, television could be the perfect outlet to remind older consumers of past hits. It’s been proven that even traditional documentaries with no sales pitch can still inspires sales, such as Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home: Bob Dylan helping to drive sales of Dylan’s earlier material. The series’ soundtrack has sold more than 75,000 copies since its release late last month.

Universal’s new division will try to avoid the “cheesy” tag that often goes with infomercials by making them more documentary-style. They plan to use rare footage of artists such as Stevie Wonder and Perry Como, and Pittelman said they could cost up to $800,000 to produce.

“A while back, the musicians that built Rock & Roll or started Soul music were uncomfortable with television,” Pittelman told the paper. “But that’s not true anymore. Everyone is older now. They all watch TV.” –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers