Korn Partners With EMI

EMI has signed Korn to a two-album, $15 million contract with Virgin Records that gives the label a stake in profits from touring, publishing, merch, sponsorships and any other band activity.

Industry execs have mixed feelings about the joint venture, but it reflects a trend for record companies to reach beyond the standard revenue streams.

This marks the first time a high-profile American band has partnered with a record company. However, major labels have brokered unique deals with overseas artists and up-n-comers since profits from record sales have declined.

Interscope recently signed the new pop version of the The Pussycat Dolls to a deal that gives the label income from all aspects of the Dolls’ career including its cosmetics line and nightclub.

EMI was criticized for a 2002 deal with Robbie Williams that gave the Brit singer up to $100 million for a similarly sliced pie. When My Chemical Romance signed with Warner Bros., the band agreed to allow the label to manage its recording and merchandising, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In return, labels are reportedly more likely to fork out the marketing dollars.

Korn’s deal was brokered by manager Jeff Kwatinetz, who told the Times that the band’s previous label, Sony, wouldn’t spend a lot to promote the group overseas because it had fewer album sales there.

“This deal increases the size of the pie for promotions and of the revenues everyone collects,” Kwatinetz said.

But others have a wait-and-see attitude, especially since Korn’s record sales have declined lately.

Plus, some question if a record label has the know-how to promote shows, sell tickets or market band merch. And there’s a fear that labels will compete with concert promoters, or use their power to force artists into exploitive deals.

“We don’t want the record companies in this industry,” Tom Bennett of merchandiser Bravado International Group told the paper. “They’ll use their size to pressure us into giving them the profits. It’s just a money grab.”

Korn’s first album on Virgin is set for release later this year. With the new partnership, the band is looking to mobile, video games and other new technologies to expand its audience.