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”Infomercials have become an effective and innovative way to reach con-sumers, especially those in the elusive 35-plus demo."
——UMe head Bruce Resnikoff
UMG’S MOVE OF THE WEEK: UNIVERSAL MUSIC MEDIA
New Infomercial Venture to Be Headed by Direct-Response TV Pioneer Ira Pittelman
Demonstrating characteristic aggressiveness, Universal Music Group has set another precedent for the Big Four by launching a new entity that will produce and distribute full-length music and video infomercial programming.

Universal Music Media, as it’s called, will be headed by Ira Pittelman, who founded trailblazing infomercial company Heartland Music with Larry Welk, Jr. Under Pittelman’s leadership, Heartland Music sold more than 100 million units through hundreds of direct-response commercials and infomercials. Since selling the company to Time Life in 1996, Pittelman has continued to work in the direct-response field, with his productions resulting in sales in excess of $200 million.

In the last five years, Pittelman has also produced several Broadway plays, including the Tony Award-winning Private Lives, the Pulitzer-winning TopDog/UnderDog, The Iceman Cometh (starring Kevin Spacey) Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party (starring Henry Winkler and John Ritter) and Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme. He’s now occupied with the much-talked-about production of The Odd Couple, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick and opening in a month.

The first infomercial from Universal Music Media will be a 30-minute program in which host Isaac Hayes pitches The Soul ’70s Collection, a nine-CD set containing hits from the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, Barry White, Al Green, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Commodores and Gladys Knight. The infomercial will begin airing nationally in October. The set follows the template set by Heartland’s The Fabulous Fifties (hosted by Regis Philbin) and The Classic Rhythm & Blues (hosted by Smokey Robinson), which have collectively sold in excess of 2 million 10-CD sets at $129 a pop.

Said UMG President/COO Zach Horowitz: "We are committed to finding new ways to bring our music to consumers, and direct-response infomercials are emerging as a powerful platform for marketing our music and expanding our audience. There could be no better person to lead this venture for us than Ira Pittelman; he is one of the chief architects of the business, and his track record of success is extraordinary and unmatched.”

Added Universal Music Enterprises President Bruce Resnikoff: “I've had the pleasure of working with Ira for the better part of two decades, and in that time, he has proven himself to be a fantastic strategic partner for me and for all of UMG. Infomercials have become an effective and innovative way to reach consumers, especially those in the elusive 35-year-old-plus demo. Universal Music Media represents a critical step in our continued efforts to gain increased exposure for our artists and their catalogs nationally.”

Commented Pittelman: “I am thrilled to be starting the next phase of my career alongside such incredible executives as Doug Morris, Zach, Bruce and the entire UMG team. We share the same business philosophy and are committed to constantly cultivating new avenues of exposure for music. I believe that our partnership will yield immediate and far-reaching results.”

According to the Electronic Retailing Association, infomercials generated over $100 billion in 2004.

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