Play that traveling music

Sony BMG in house with hotel deal

Sony BMG Entertainment has checked in to an exclusive partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to develop branded music- and entertainment-based programming for hotels under the Starwood banner.

Under the long-term deal, Sony BMG will work with Starwood to create in-house song playlists, digital music stores, in-room TV offerings, customized compilation albums, live entertainment experiences and more.

The program will be implemented in such U.S. Starwood hotels as Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, Four Points, Le Meridien, St. Regis and Luxury Collection brands. A global expansion is planned before year's end.

"The appealing thing for Sony BMG is that we can help expose our guests to their different artists," said Rod Mano, senior director of entertainment strategy at Starwood. "People can be in a hotel for several days at a time, so they have more time to explore new music."

The first part of the initiative will involve creating custom song playlists that cater to the vibe of each hotel. The playlists, which include but are not limited to Sony BMG artists, will be heard throughout each Starwood hotel property.

"The sound of Sheraton will be very different from the sound at St. Regis," said JJ Rosen, executive vp for Sony BMG's Commercial Music Group. A W Hotel visitor, Mano said, will more likely hear such artists as Imogen Heap, whereas Sheraton patrons will be exposed to the more "familiar" sounds of Bruce Springsteen. "Working in collaboration with Sony BMG, we're coming up with artists that fit each brand," Mano said.

Another goal is to create compilation CDs that will be sold at each hotel. A compilation already has been developed for W Hotels, priced at $20 and including such acts as Goldfrapp, Nina Simone, DJ Krush and Dirty Vegas. Sony BMG and Starwood will share revenue on each CD sold.

Starwood also is giving Sony BMG a free in-room TV channel that will be looped with about 60 minutes of artist interviews, shortform music videos and other exclusive programming. "We'll also have snippets of our longform concert videos that are sold on DVDs," Rosen said, noting that viewers will be given the option to purchase the full concerts via pay-per-view.

Finally, the program calls for live music at each hotel, which would be available as exclusive offerings to hotel guests and the public alike.

"When they open new hotels, for example, they often have press events and parties," Rosen said. The first concert under the agreement is a Wednesday performance by Train's Pat Monahan at Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers.

Mitchell Peters is a correspondent for Billboard.
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