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Vivendi's Bid for Band Beats AOL

July 25, 2002|Chuck Philips

Vivendi Universal beat AOL Time Warner Inc. in a bidding war for the Hives, one of the hottest new rock bands on the global music scene.

Sources say the London-based arm of Universal Records has signed the Swedish quintet to a three-album pact worth more than $10 million. In an unprecedented move, Universal also granted the Hives ownership rights to its master recordings after a specified period of time and agreed to indemnify the group against any lawsuits stemming from the deal.

The Hives' acclaimed CD, "Veni Vidi Vicious," was released by Warner Bros. Records in a partnership with the independent Epitaph label, which had licensed rights to two Hives albums from Swedish label Burning Heart Records.

Under the arrangement, Warner planned to distribute the Hives' next album in 2003. But sources say the band believes it has already fulfilled its obligations under the old deal and intends to release its next recording on Universal. Burning Heart is preparing a lawsuit over the matter, sources said.

Vivendi Universal and AOL Time Warner declined to comment.

Chuck Philips

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