'Falling Slowly' leads to fast track for Oscar winners

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On the heels of winning the Academy Award for best song, "Once" stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova have signed a worldwide publishing agreement with Warner/Chappell Music.

In addition to their future works, the duo's catalog will be administered by Warner/Chappell, including those songs written by Hansard as a member of the Frames, music from the pair's recording on "The Swell Season" and songs from the "Once" soundtrack.

"It seems like there's a magic to this movie that doesn't stop giving -- I think it's great that the Frames are going to get a wider audience because of this," says Glen Brunman, executive vp/head of creative (U.S.) at Warner/Chappell, who began working with Hansard and Irglova in his previous role as head of soundtracks for Sony Music. "There's a hunger for what Glen and Mar can do."

The deal is another step in the picture-perfect tale of "Once" -- and if history is any guide, look for the acclaim to build as "Falling Slowly" climbs the singles charts in the wake of its Oscar win.

The 2007 best song winner, Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth," jumped 87% the week after the Oscar ceremony. In 2006, Three 6 Mafia's "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" carried the "Hustle & Flow" soundtrack to a 77% increase in the wake of the Oscars. ("Pimp" was not available as a stand-alone single.)

Even though this year's Oscars received its worst ratings ever, don't expect it to derail the "Once" bandwagon. For the week ending at midnight the night of the awards, "Falling Slowly," sold 14,000 digital downloads, a 359% increase over the previous week.

And the "Once" soundtrack leaps into the top 10 this week, jumping 24 spots on a 143% sales boost.

Steve Ralbovsky, head of Canvasback Music, which released the soundtrack with Columbia Records, says the duo -- performing as the Swell Season -- will start a monthlong U.S. tour in April, including stops at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Radio City Music Hall. Last year's tour welcomed the performers with sold-out shows and critical acclaim.

"There's an opportunity to still discover and learn something (about them)," he says. "We don't want to seize the moment and run it into the ground."

As it turns out, some of the groundwork for the soundtrack's future success was laid in the buildup to the Oscars. In the week before and the week of the Feb. 24 ceremony, VH1 returned the "Falling Slowly" video to the air and gave it "gung ho" rotation -- the channel's highest level -- of 45 airings per week. In addition, it received four additional plays during Oscar weekend as the "top 20 spotlight video."

"We do our scheduling a week ahead of time, so five days before the Oscars happened, we had to make our decision," says Rick Krim, executive vp music and talent at VH1. "We figured no matter what, their performance was going to be stunning and people would be interested. It worked in our favor, and we decided to keep it on another week (after the Oscars)."

It's the second round for the video on the channel; VH1 first put it in rotation when the movie came out in July.

"The movie never hit giant mainstream, but we put it on as fans," Krim says. "It wasn't about radio (exposure) -- it was about artists that we thought were amazing."
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