More Than Music 

A foray into clickable country

A foray into clickable country

Nu.millenia, a San Diego-based interactive media company, has opened a Nashville office and is working to establish a country music presence with Clay Walker’s Self Portrait “enhanced CD.” A marketing blitz set for July will feature the Walker album and others in national print ads and spots on E! Entertainment, MTV and The Howard Stern Show.

Nu.millenia’s enhanced CDs contain both audio and video tracks and can be played on both conventional CD players and computer CD-ROM players. The Self Portrait album contains five of Walker’s hit songs, three of his music videos, and more than 30 minutes of new video footage shot on his ranch especially for this project. It carries a suggested retail price of $14.95. Other titles in nu.millenia’s catalog are PM Dawn’s According to the World, Terence Trent D’Arby’s Vibrator All Access, Dogstar’s Quattro Formaggi and Her Majesty the Baby’s Mary.

In addition to licensing, producing and packaging enhanced CDs, nu.millenia also distributes its product to computer software stores, a relatively new outlet for country music. There are approximately 11,000 such stores in the U.S., according to Donna Cardellino, president of nu.millenia/Nashville Records. She emphasizes that her company is not a “work-for-hire developer.” In other words, it does not sell its services to record companies, artists and managers for promotional and marketing assistance. The company either pays for the project entirely or splits the cost with the record label and earns its profit from retail sales.

“We’re not going to sign an artist if we don’t feel we can recoup our money,” Cardellino explains, “because these titles cost anywhere from $40,000 to $120,000 to develop.” It takes 10 weeks to produce a project, she adds.

Since the enhanced CD is still a new concept to most consumers, nu.millenia maintains a technical support service. Buyers with problems or questions can call the service’s phone number, which is displayed on each album.

“[Besides] licensing contents from major labels to make these enhanced CDs,” Cardellino says, “we’re also signing new artists [whose albums] will be put out as enhanced CDs only.” As a stand-alone record label, nu.millenia has already signed four alternative acts. Cardellino reports that the acts are being introduced to the public not only via in-store computers but also through live performances in the stores’ parking lots.

“I’m looking right now for new great country artists,” Cardellino says. The company may also add contemporary Christian music acts to its roster. Nu.millenia will distribute its enhanced CD titles to regular record stores through arrangements with major record labels.

Currents

♦ Paul Martin, former lead singer and lead guitarist for Exile, is scouting for a record deal. Jon Vezner is serving as Martin’s producer and Steve Goetzman as his manager. Prior to joining Exile in 1989, Martin was in Billy Joe Royal’s band. After Exile disbanded, he toured with Kathy Mattea; he’s now a songwriter for Stroudavarious. Vezner cowrote the Grammy-winning “Where’ve You Been” and later recorded his own album, Who’s Gonna Know, for the Liberty Songwriters Series. Goetzman was Exile’s drummer for 17 years. Following the band’s breakup in early 1994, he worked as Steve Wariner’s manager and then as a booking agent for the Bobby Roberts Co.

♦ The unflappable, unstoppable and supremely entertaining George Hamilton V will host a “Fan Fair Spectacular” Wednesday, June 12, at the Wagon Burner, 418 Broadway, as part of his weekly “Hump Night Hoedown” series.

♦ Speaking at the recent International Country Music Conference in Meridian, Miss., Dr. Jimmie N. Rogers of the University of Arkansas proposed that the present era of country music be referred to henceforth as “the Pectoral Period.”

♦ Unlike those who use their songwriting as a stepping stone toward a performing career, Gary Baker and Frank Myers were sure-footed and stage-seasoned veterans long before they distinguished themselves by penning such hits as “T.L.C.A.S.A.P.” and “I Swear.” Baker got his recording start as part of the pop act LeBlanc & Carr and then went into country music as lead singer for the Shooters. Myers spent 10 years as Eddy Raven’s guitarist. Together, they worked several seasons in Marie Osmond’s band prior to signing to MCG/Curb Records as Baker & Myers. All their power and polish poured through in the duo’s recent (and all too rare) Music City showcase at 12th & Porter. Even though they’re known for their ballads, the two used the occasion primarily to demonstrate that they can drive and rock with the best of them. They also unveiled the next single from their self-titled debut album, the decidedly up-tempo “A Little Bit of Honey.”

♦ CMT is tentatively scheduled to re-enter the Canadian market Oct. 1 as CMT, Country Music Television (Canada). After having been carried on Canadian cable for 10 years, CMT was kicked out at the end of 1994 in favor of New Country Network, a hastily established domestic service. This past March, CMT’s owners, Gaylord Entertainment and Group W Satellite Communications, reached an agreement to buy into NCN. During the height of the controversy, CMT refused to air music videos by Canadian country artists who were not signed to a U.S. record label.

♦ “Why, Nona?,” the first music video from the Bum Steers on Western Beat, has been added to TNN’s playlist and to CMT’s “Jammin’ Country” lineup. In addition, the group’s “Nat King Cole Porter Wagoner Sorta Thing” is included in New Country magazine’s June compilation CD.

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