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DVD Supplier Expands 'Austin City Limits'

3 May, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

New West Records plans to mine its exclusive release agreement with the highly respected “Austin City Limits” PBS concert program like it would a gushing Texas oil field.

A second wave of titles from New West's “Live From Austin, TX” DVD line streets May 10, with performances from Lucinda Williams, Son Volt and Richard Thompson.

So far, the company has focused on releases from artists in a country-rock/Southern genre, but by no means is that all there is to cull from, said Steve Rosenblatt, head of sales and marketing for New West Records, which is based in Austin and Los Angeles. Performances from the likes of Neil Young, Beck, The Pixies and many others are in the vaults of “Austin City Limits” programs, and New West has first and only rights to their DVD release.

The most time-consuming part of getting the music DVDs to market is securing clearance from the artists involved for the DVD release and the companion CD title New West puts out alongside the video whenever possible, Rosenblatt said.

But, he added, the quality of the original “Austin City Limits” filming is undisputed in the music community, and New West has had few problems securing tricky artist rights to content.

Musicians like to have DVD product out there, Rosenblatt said.“As artists' careers grow, [music DVD] is like a statement, like a document of ‘where I was as an artist when I performed that,’ he said.

“Austin City Limits” has been on the air for nearly 30 years and is a popular program, which spells impressions for both New West and the retailers who carry the DVD titles that come out of the series, Rosenblatt said.

Fans of the artists and the show get even more out of the DVD release, he added.

The TV program takes a 60- to 90-minute taping and turns it into a 25-minute airing, Rosenblatt said. New West takes the original footage, re-edits it using all the available camera angles, and offers the longer concert performance.

The “Live From Austin, TX” line launched last November with four titles, featuring performances from Susan Tedeschi, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle and The Flatlanders.

So far, the Susan Tedeschi title is the best seller, Rosenblatt said, with Steve Earle a close second.

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