Music industry woes not felt by Disney Records

So-called 360 deals are trendy now but Disney has been promoting its acts across TV, records, and movies for decades.

Walt Disney's music label is expanding the Web presence of popular shows, such as Hannah Montana Walt Disney Records

LOS ANGELES--Only the mouse appears to thrive in a music sector pulverized by digital technology.

As the top four recording companies continue to see CD sales shrink and as they scurry to find profitable business models in the digital age, Walt Disney Records has grown 40 percent from last year according to Matt Fitz-Henry, the label's director of New Media.

Fitz-Henry, who spoke at a panel session at the iHollywood Conference on Monday, said that it's no secret how the company has found success in such a gloomy environment.

"What everybody in the music business is now talking about is the 360-deal," Fitz-Henry said. "The Disney company has been doing that for 50 years."

A 360 deal is the practice of promoting an artist across different entertainment genres and platforms, including the Web.

For example, Walt Disney Records oversees much of the work of Miley Ray Cyrus, of Hannah Montana fame.

Besides the TV show, Cyrus has released CDs, draws huge crowds of screaming young girls to her concerts and is scheduled to appear in Hannah Montana: The Movie. According to a story in Adweek, one of her two Web sites drew more than 280,000 unique visitors in April.

Another important ingredient is partnering with acts that appeal to children or tween-agers, a group that isn't likely to pirate the content. Some of the other properties on the label include franchises such as High School Musical and Camp Rock featuring the The Jonas Brothers.

According to Nielsen Soundscan, High School Musical 2 was the seventh largest selling digital album of 2007.

"The Internet is not only an important piece of our business, it's relevance continues to expand," Fitz-Henry said. Disney is focusing now on promoting acts in mobile by creating widgets that include audio, video, tour dates, Webisodes and photos.

 

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