CBS revives namesake music label

/ Source: The Associated Press

CBS Corp. has launched a new recorded music label — reviving the name of long-defunct CBS Records — through which the company plans to release music and promote artists on its networks’ stable of television shows.

CBS Records aims to market its artists and their music in television shows produced by CBS Paramount Television and aired across several broadcast and cable networks, including CBS, The CW, NBC and USA Network, New York-based CBS Corp. said Thursday.

“With more consumers choosing the online download model as the preferred way to purchase their favorite songs, we have an opportunity to use our unique and broad collection of media platforms to create a new music label paradigm for a small price of admission,” Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS Corp., said in a prepared statement.

Outside of television, CBS Records will release music online through its own Web site and retailers such as Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes Music Store. The label has completed a deal with Apple to sell music, videos and other content, and expects to seal similar agreements with other online music services, CBS said.

CBS Records, based in Los Angeles, will also put out CDs, through partnerships with other labels or distributors.

The label plans to add around eight artists to its roster in the first year, said Larry Jenkins, a veteran music executive who is serving as a consultant to the label.

CBS Records has been around for decades and had been home to a legendary roster of recording artists, including Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith, according to CBS.

In 1988, CBS Inc. sold the record label to Japan’s Sony Corp. for about $2 billion. A few years later, Sony folded the label into one of its other recorded music divisions.

In the years since, the CBS Records name has been effectively mothballed.

CBS did not pay anything for the right to use the CBS Records name again. The original terms of the sale only gave Sony the right to the name as long as it was being actively used, said Jack Sussman, executive vice president of specials, music and live events at CBS Entertainment.

“They have not used it in over a decade, so there was no question about the rights,” Sussman said.

In recent years, television shows have become increasingly sought-after vehicles for record labels looking to create buzz for a new band or single. While still important, getting new music aired on radio has become tougher as stations seek to program music that will have the widest appeal.

CBS Records already has several artists on its roster. One of them, singer-songwriter Will Dailey, had a track from a forthcoming album featured in a recent episode of the CBS drama “Jericho.”