Sony disc raises money for bushfire victims

Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel contribute to compilation

BRISBANE, Australia -- Sony Music Australia's bushfire relief compilation was the biggest-selling album in the country last week, raising more than AUS$300,000 ($195,000) for victims of Victoria's destructive bushfires.

Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Midnight Oil are among the artists featured on the bushfire appeal CD, all of whom have donated their royalties. The CD's manufacturers Sony DADC have waived their production costs.

Despite enjoying just four full days on the racks, the 35-track double CD "Bushfire Aid: Artists For The Bushfire Appeal" sold more than 20,000 units to easily outpace the top selling artist album of the week, Lily Allen's "It's Not Me, It's You" (Capitol/EMI).

However, because the set is a compilation, it does not meet the criteria to appear on the ARIA albums chart. It debuts at the crest of the current compilations chart, published today (Feb. 23).

Australia's mass media has rallied behind the project. The major metro and regional TV and radio networks have plugged the album in recent days with prime time slots, while a range of newspapers have devoted color ads and column inches for the campaign. Media support will continue through February and into March.

"We are delighted with the great response to make this the biggest CD seller in its first week," said Denis Handlin, chairman and CEO of Sony Music Australia and New Zealand, who conceived and spearheaded the project. "The music industry, TV, radio and newspaper support is excellent and we are proud of how everyone has worked together to get this to happen in such a short period."

Sony Music rush-released the set in response to the bushfires, which have spiraled out of control since Feb. 7 in areas of the country's south east, killing at least 209 people. The compilation was launched on free-to-air Nine Networks' Feb. 12 Bushfire Telethon, and by the following morning retailers were placing orders.

"It's fantastic to have the No. 1 album in the country this week on something that didn't exist 10 days ago," Tony Glover, GM strategic marketing at Sony Music Australia, said.