WMI has worldview for Rhino

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Warner Music International is unleashing Rhino worldwide.

The U.S.-based reissues and compilations specialist initially will be rolled out in 15 markets, uniting all of Warner's international catalog operations — including Warner Strategic Marketing — under the Rhino banner.

As a result of the initiative, unveiled Wednesday, WMI will make much of the label's catalog roster digitally available outside the U.S. for the first time.

At the core of the Rhino rollout is a series of online and mobile projects, with which WMI intends to grab the proverbial long tail.

John Reid, the London-based vice chairman of music, marketing and content at WMI, said Rhino's time is now because of "the digital opportunity" it represented. "Rhino has been building its brand nicely over the last two years in the U.S.," he said. "We held off until now because we wanted a platform to launch it on. We feel that the digital platform is the opportunity right now."

Said Scott Pascucci, Rhino's Los Angeles-based president, "The worldwide launch of Rhino as Warner Music's official catalog label will allow us to unify our global efforts in new and interesting ways under a single banner as we transition from a CD business to a diverse multiplatform music-based entertainment company.

The first countries to launch Rhino will be the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, Finland, Benelux, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.

Each market's Rhino chief will report to the local Warner Music managing director or local CEO.

One of the key features of the global campaign will be the launch of Rhino's first dedicated wireless service in Japan, which will sell music products on a mobile site aimed at the 30-plus demographic.

The international launch also will see the first-ever digital release of the Gallo Music catalog from South Africa, as part of a digital World Music campaign across WMI's entire repertoire. It follows a joint-venture deal struck in mid-2006 with South African publishing and entertainment company Johncom and its subsidiary Gallo to create Warner Music Gallo Africa.

Established as an independent company 30 years ago in the back of a Santa Monica record store, Rhino has accumulated a catalog of more than 5,000 albums, videos and digital exclusive albums. That catalog features material from Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, the Doors, Chicago, Black Sabbath, John Coltrane, Yes, Alice Cooper, Linda Ronstadt, the Ramones, the Monkees, Carly Simon and Curtis Mayfield. Rhino has been part of WMG since 1998.

Lars Brandle is global news editor at Billboard.
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