This week, Untitled Entertainment partner Guy Oseary and Live Nation are going live with a joint web venture RockPaperPhoto.com, an online art gallery selling largely unpublished, hand-signed, limited-edition prints of more than 1,000 singers and acts ranging from B.B. King and James Brown to Green Day and Gwen Stefani. The site features the work of 70 photographers including such recognized names as Baron Wolman, Ian Dickson, Deborah Feingold and Michael Putland. RockPaperPhoto museum-quality processes include silver gelatin, archival chromogenic, platinum print and archival print, with entry prices at $250 running to a top-tier of $10K.
The website is a bit of a passion project for Oseary, who manages the careers of Madonna and Alex Rodriguez among others and is also the exec producer of Last Call with Carson Daly. He was the architect of Madonna’s landmark 2007 deal with Live Nation. “I’ve been collecting photos for a long time, I mean since I started making money. But what you have had to go through to find a good photo is like a needle in the haystack sometimes. You’ll drive from one gallery to the next gallery to the next gallery. It’s not an easy process. It’s a very ancient model that just hasn’t caught up with the times,” says Oseary. “So I really came up with this idea out of frustration.”
Oseary first discussed the concept with Live Nation CEO/president Michael Rapino over dinner a few years ago. “We’ve been talking about it for a while and we finally said, ‘Just go for it.’ I really wanted to create a place where you could just sit back and be able to discover great photography instead of specifically going to a gallery to find one,” says the manager. He says his own collection of photos numbers around 200, including a number of shots of The Sex Pistols and John Lennon by Bob Gruen (who is not featured on the site). “Those were the ones that when I made my first dollar I decided to invest in,” he says.
Says photographer Tom Murray, whose famous 1968 photos of the Beatles are on the site: “It runs the gamut from Frank Sinatra to Justin Bieber and it suits everyone’s pocketbooks. It’s all limited editions – they are interested in low numbers and high quality.” Among Murray’s photos is his famous, or perhaps infamous, shot of John Lennon playing dead in a park while his three bandmates look on. “We were taking other pictures and suddenly he [John] dropped to the ground and pretended to be dead. Twelve years later when it actually happened it was very spooky. It’s a very controversial picture. Beatles fans either love it or hate it,” says Murray.
RockPaperPhoto shares profits 50/50 with artists, a traditional split in the bricks-and-mortar art gallery world.
The site is one of many recent forays into the digital world by Oseary. He was instrumental in developing GrouponLive, a discount-tickets joint venture, announced May 11, between Groupon (for whom he advises) and Live Nation. Last year, he formed a digital investment partnership with Ashton Kutcher called A-Grade which has helped fund such recent start-ups as video-chat service TinyChat, anonymous-flirting hub LikeALittle and GrubWithUs, a website for finding like-minded people to dine with. “We are making a lot of investments,” says Oseary.