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[The following article appears in this week's Music Week detailing the first time ever that Whitney's back catalogue is being promoted at mid-price in the UK]

The Release of Whitney Houston's first new album for five years has given BMG the perfect opportunity to ignite retail activity across her entire back catalogue.
The return of one of the world's biggest stars with a succession of hit singles, a critically - and commercially - acclaimed album and a world tour all add up to the sort of exposure of which catalogue managers dream.

"It will always give a big boost to catalogue sales when a major artist tours and has new product on the market and Whitney is one of our premier artists, so it was an obvious move to re-promote her back catalogue," says Charlie Stanford. "All the albums were still selling reasonably well at full price but as soon as we knew there was new product, we saw the opportunity to increase sales substantially by marketing them at mid-price."

To get clearance for such a radical marketing initiative involving one of the company's key assets - and the best selling artist of the last two decades - meant going all through lengthy discussions with Arista in the US. As a result, all Houston's six albums - Whitney Houston, Whitney, I'm Your Baby Tonight, The Bodyguard, Waiting To Exhale and The Preacher's Wife - were reduced to mid-price on August 2 and will remain at that price point until the end of the year, at which time the singer's catalogue will revert to full-price.

At full price, this catalogue has already achieved more than 3.5m unit sales in the UK alone, and Stanford is excited by the commercial possibilities created by the price reduction and it's associated retail-friendly benefits.

In August alone there was a tenfold increase in Houston catalogue sales, and he believes this may only be the tip of the iceberg. "Whitney's releases have always been strong selling, must stock catalogue items but with all the opportunities mid-price offers, the sky is the limit," he says. "We always work closely with the front-line labels to maximise profile and potential for reductions from full to mid-price. It not only generates valuable additional revenue, it increases the artists' overall profile and allows us to reach cost-conscious consumers who are reluctant to pay 14 for a CD."

Whitney's UK catalogue album sales are actually in the region of seven million copies - Manish.

NEWSFILE: 2 OCTOBER 1999

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