Rundgren plays it straight with Cleopatra deal

Tues., Nov. 2, 1999
By Marc Pollack

Rocker and digital music entrepreneur Todd Rundgren has signed an exclusive two-year, multi-album worldwide distribution agreement with Los Angeles-based independent label Cleopatra Records for the traditional release of upcoming Rundgren records.

The deal relates to Rundgren's PatroNet, an online entertainment company selling subscriptions that allow fans, on a day-and-date basis, to access new songs and music as he creates them (HR 2/3/97).

The two-year Cleopatra deal is for the world excluding Japan and calls for the release of two albums, one that will be released at the end of PatroNet subscription year one and the other to be released at the end of PatroNet subscription year two.

The content of the albums will be selected by Rundgren from all that he creates during each subscription year. Cleopatra is distributed by Caroline Records in the United States.

"It was never the intent of PatroNet to usurp the record company model," said Panacea Entertainment chief Eric Gardner, Rundgren's manager of 25 years and his partner in PatroNet parent company Waking Dreams. "We are cognizant of the fact that around the world there are hundreds of thousands of fans that are not online or prefer to get their music the old-fashioned way.

"We began a search for an enlightened record company that, rather than seeing the exclusive subscription window as an erosion of potential retail sales, would rather perceive it as a marketing opportunity to create prerelease awareness, much as the film industry has been doing for many years.

"We wanted to avoid the majors," he said. "We thought such a unique concept would be lost and therefore concentrated on the independent world. We found an extremely imaginative and compatible partner in Cleopatra Records."

In addition to the two-record deal, Cleopatra will release a third Rundgren project. That album will use as its nucleus original Rundgren vocal tracks provided by the artist for a mutually agreed upon selection of his songs. Cleopatra will then engage other artists to create the backing tracks to the Rundgren tunes.

"We have great admiration for Todd as a solo artist and as a producer," Cleopatra Records vp and general manager Brian McNelis said. "When you have the opportunity to work with an artist like Todd Rundgren, you just say yeah."

Cleopatra has had success with this type of compilation album, having released similar discs by Missing Persons, Flock of Seagulls, Bow Wow Wow, Berlin, Bob Marley, the Sweet and others.

© 1999 The Hollywood Reporter - Used by Permission