Universal Music Group has signed a worldwide distribution deal with Artists Den to release the public television show’s episode featuring Robert Plant and the Band of Joy. It is the first time UMG and the show have worked together and Universal Music Enterprises president Bruce Resnikoff tells Billboard.biz “I hope it’s the first of many projects with them.”
Universal will release “Robert Plant & the Band of Joy: Live from the Artists Den” on DVD and Blu Ray on July 10 and worldwide on July 9 through Universal Music Group International. Previous Artists Den releases had gone through Sony RED.
“We made a number of deals to get the global rights,” Resnikoff says. “By combining global sales and marketing throughout the world, the pieces of the puzzle fit right.” Artists Den founder and executive producer Mark Lieberman agreed the international aspect was a key selling point.
Nether Resnikoff nor Lieberman would comment on any future projects, only saying that they are working on another release down the road. The Artist Den concept — place star performers such as Adele or Elvis Costello in non-traditional venues such as Graceland or the New York City Public Library — resonated with Resnikoff from the start; he began talks about the Plant DVD prior to it being shot.
“‘Artists Den’ separates itself from other shows because it is done in an intimate way with superstars [performing] a mix of current and past music that is easy to connect with as a musical event,” Resnikoff says. “You knew [this would work] before it was done so it was not something that needed to be made before I got involved.”
The DVD will also be presented as a featured story and product release for public television’s National Pledge starting July 26. Artists Den Entertainment produces the show in association with WNET New York Public Media; American Public Television distributes it.
“The great thing about the DVD space,” Resnikoff notes, “is even though it’s off sales wise as a whole, the re-creation of the live experience, the concert experience, has not fallen off. A great video recording [means] you don’t have to search the Internet for bootlegs, the cost is a relatively small investment and it’s an experience that can be enjoyed over and over.”
Plant created Band of Joy with guitarist Buddy Miller and singer Patty Griffin after his success with Alison Krauss on Raising Sand, his 2007 release that led to five Grammy wins. Plant’s Band of Joy album — the title is a reference to the group he formed with John Bonham prior to Led Zeppelin — peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 in October 2010. It has sold 232,000 copies, according to Soundscan figures.
On the 16-song DVD, Plant and the Band of Joy revisit six Led Zeppelin songs — “Black Dog,” “Houses of the Holy,” “Tangerine,” “Ramble On,” “Gallows Pole” and “Rock and Roll” — four songs from the Band of Joy album, “Move Up” from Page and Plant and a few of Plant’s solo works.
Plant recently announced the formation of a new band, the Sensational Space Shifters, with Griffin and members of his former backing band Strange Sensation.
Drawing inspiration from “the roots music of Mississippi, Appalachia, Gambia, Bristol and the foothills of Wolverhampton,” the band is scheduled to appear Gloucester’s Guildhall on May 8, at the HMV Forum in London and the 30th anniversary Womad festival in July and at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in Clarksdale, Miss., on Aug. 11.