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Bernie signs new F1 music deal
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Bernie signs new F1 music deal
Posted By:   |  28 Mar 2009   |  9:59 pm GMT  |  13 comments

F1′s commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone isn’t here in Australia, he’s back in London doing deals.

One which broke cover this weekend was a deal he’s been working on for ages with Universal Music group, the biggest recorded music outfit in the world. They own dozens of the labels you grew up with like Polydor, Decca and A&M.

According to a joint statement the concept is called “F1 Rocks” and it is a series of multi-artist live music events from the Grands Prix. That part isn’t new, after all the Who are playing here tomorrow night and good old Status Quo have been getting repetitive strain injury at Silverstone for years.

What is new is the blending in of ‘stars of movies, sport and fashion’ with the rockers and the racers. The whole thing will be packaged into a digital content stream which fans can enjoy around the world.

The deal makes a lot of sense on both sides. F1 is desperate to get more ‘celebs’ to the races, bizarrely that kind of glamour is thin on the ground. Remember the hoopla when the Beckhams came to Silverstone with Honda, well they want that kind of buzz and energy all the time and this is the latest idea on how to achieve that. TV networks expect to see stars and glamour associated with F1 and it hasn’t really delivered on that in recent years.

And for Universal the attraction is clear. The only way to make money in music these days is live events and this will add a new revenue stream for the artists on Universal’s books.

Its shows how the web is changing F1 and the expectation of what is possible. Bernie has always been very suspicious of the internet, because he thinks it’s really hard to protect his rights in such and unregulated free-for-all. But this deal will, I’m sure, be the first of many as F1 looks to open up new revenue streams and drag its business model into the 21st century.

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13 Comments
  1. mattanddebz says:

    Does this mean we’ll be seeing slightly bigger (and possibly more modern) artists playing festival-style concerts at every grand prix?

    I think Silverstone can do better than Status Quo (no offence). Singapore also had a huge concert stage at the cricket ground last year. Considering the huge attendance of the grand prix it wasn’t a very popular area. Presumably because the artists were relatively obscure.

    So will this deal bring a whole new entertainment angle to F1? Another broadcast-able product. I’d love to see concerts broadcast live from F1 weekends. I’d also like to be at a few of them!

  2. Smartie says:

    Thing is, all these celebs who turn up with corporate passes care not a jot about the racing, the cars or the teams and are just looking for the champers. Its a smack in the face to real fans who would give two limbs and their granny to be stood in the places the celebs are.

    Personally i couldn’t care what ‘celebs’ turn up to get their fizzogs on camera. One thing guaranteed to make me cross was some non-entity on the grid gurning into the camera with the following exchange:

    Interviewer: Hi zeleb, nice to see you here
    Zeleb: Oh yeah I love F1, I’m a huge fan
    Interviewer: Great, have you been to a race before?
    Zeleb: oh no this is my first time watching
    Interviewer *ahem* who you rooting for?
    Zeleb: oh the red car/british driver*

    *delete as appropriate.

    The funniest thing was posh on the grid, guest of honda but said she was rooting for hamilton. Very embarrassing.

  3. rpaco says:

    I would imagine that the music deal was not the only reason he is not there in Oz, a healthy respect for his own safety, might have a lot to do with it. :-)

  4. Fidem says:

    “Its shows how the web is changing F1!!” I don’t think F1 has really capitalised on the opportunity of the web. I had to scratch around for the “press conference” & other drivers comments & general analysis. There’s only so much great work jamesallenonf1 can do. The Beeb & official formula 1 web site have got to give us better web coverage.

  5. Arnet says:

    *Yawn* Oh, wait, as a Canadian, I no longer have the option of seeing a concert at a race.

    So what, big deal. If I want to go to a concert, I’ll go get ripped of by Ticketmaster instead of Bernie.

    Just more fluff from the fluff-meister. This adds nothing to a race weekend. At the end of a race, I want to talk about it with my fellow fans, not have aging rockers or the latest bubblegum chart-toppers shoved down my ears. As the latest from Pitpass http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=37363 shows, Bernie is not pulling in enough money to pay back the debt fast enough. He’s grasping at straws while doing nothing to improve racing.

    As for the internet, I think he’s just too much of a luddite to get it. He charges such a high licensing fee for video games that no one wants to bother creating them, and he could have been making oodles of licensing money through his web-site for years. Instead he hounds film-clips off of youtube.

    Bernie, if there’s one thing you should ask your new music industry mates next time you sit down over a cuppa: “Since you’ve lost so much money ignoring your fans, how do you now make money by following them?” Welcome to the 21st Century Mr. Ecclstone……

  6. Colin says:

    Interesting, I wonder if they plan to do something similar with classical music too? I think it was Snr. Luca’s brainwave to link Pavarotti with football, and that made everyone happy.

    Imagine “Last night of the Proms” meets Silverstone… boy would a stately rendering of Elgar fire up Lewis and Jenson!

    “Bernie has always been very suspicious of the internet, because he thinks it’s really hard to protect his rights in such and unregulated free-for-all.”

    He’s quite right.

    Just wait until you find the scraper bots ripping your excellent copyright off, posting it on sites hosted in Uzbekistan, and plastering your carefully crafted prose with advertisements for pills, punters, and porn.

    It’d be wise to get measures in place to circumvent that.
    I see you don’t even have a copyright notice on your articles and images James.

    Incidentally, the Official F1 live timing pages had an unintentionally hilarious copyright notice for the last two years. (They’ve changed it now.)

    It seems Mr. Ecclestone owns the rights to your genes and is well on the way to world domination. It used to read:

    (C) Reproduction prohibited without authorisation

  7. john g says:

    [i]F1 is desperate to get more ‘celebs’ to the races[/i] not sure on this one… i don’t think F1 gives a crap about celebs, F1 should be about the racing.

    then again, these days F1 is Bernie, and all bernie cares about are celebs and VIP’s (clamouring for a photo with them and the drivers, most of which they’ve learnt about that morning) as this is what pays his bills, so i guess in a way you are right. sadly.

  8. Colin says:

    Interesting, I wonder if they plan to do something similar with classical music too? I think it was Snr. Luca’s brainwave to link Pavarotti with football, and that made everyone happy.

    Imagine “Last night of the Proms” meets Silverstone… boy would a stately rendering of Elgar fire up Lewis and Jenson!

    “Bernie has always been very suspicious of the internet, because he thinks it’s really hard to protect his rights in such and unregulated free-for-all.”

    He’s quite right.

    Just wait until you find the scraper bots ripping your excellent copyright off, posting it on sites hosted in Uzbekistan, and plastering your carefully crafted prose with advertisements for pills, punters, and porn.

    It’d be wise to get measures in place to circumvent that.

    I see you don’t even have a copyright notice on your articles and images James.

    Incidentally, the Official F1 live timing pages had an unintentionally hilarious copyright notice for the last two years. (They’ve changed it now.)

    It seems Mr. Ecclestone owns the rights to your genes and is well on the way to world domination. It used to read: (C) Reproduction prohibited without authorisation

  9. kd says:

    Maybe we will get F1 in HD at some point. Ahhh, who am I kidding. Why would they bother to try to make the TV experience better for the fans?

  10. Bobby says:

    This could also change the rights-holders in the US: Vivendi-Universal owns 20% of NBC and could use this to move television rights of News Corp’s Speed and into Vivendi’s Universal Sports cable channel, with selected races on NBC. Universal Sports is known for its broadcast of athletics, swimming, gymnastics, and other Olympic sports, along with the Alliance of Action Sports (an NBC Universal/MTV joint venture that produces the Pepsi Mountain Dew Action Sports tour and the national outdoor Motocross Championship television broadcasts for Speed and NBC) but its identity is likely to change as a byproduct of the United States Olympic Committee’s decision to launch the new USOC Network as it will likely take from Universal Sports Olympic sports rights.

    If Bernie and Universal Music hit it well (Universal Music now holds the rights for NBC Universal’s Today Summer Concert Series), we could see F1 move to Universal Sports, USA Network, and NBC Sports in the future.

  11. Couldn’t agree more. I’d rather see celebs that like their racing like George Lucas and Michael Douglas.

  12. Patrice Ici says:

    @Smartie – I agree 100%. I was going to say the same thing. It really annoys me when you see slebs sychophantically bigging up whoever paid for their plane ticket. I remember Hugh Laurie at America a year or so ago exclaiming he “preferred motorbikes” than cars! Go away and watch them then. This happens all too often.

    It might be different if there were proper A-list slebs (like Bowie or ummm Superman??) but I don’t want the few hours of TV I actually watch taken up by Simon Cowell’s performing monkeys trying to plug their latest album of cover versions of ballads.

    I wouldn’t mind knowing about what ALL of the drivers have been up to, not just the British ones (I’m British but quite like Alonso, I know people who love Kimi, so it’s only fair to give EVERY race driver their own 5m slot).

    So yes, I agree Smartie.

  13. Mike Ellison says:

    Good point. There is the danger of it becoming yet another plugfest. Will the next F1 scandal be music industry payola?

    Another thing – no point inviting American or Canadian celebs since the “new low-cost F1″ overpriced itself out of the Montreal and Indy GPs!

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