F1’s commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone isn’t here in Australia, he’s back in London doing deals.
One which broke cover this weekend was a deal he’s been working on for ages with Universal Music group, the biggest recorded music outfit in the world. They own dozens of the labels you grew up with like Polydor, Decca and A&M.
According to a joint statement the concept is called “F1 Rocks” and it is a series of multi-artist live music events from the Grands Prix. That part isn’t new, after all the Who are playing here tomorrow night and good old Status Quo have been getting repetitive strain injury at Silverstone for years.
What is new is the blending in of ‘stars of movies, sport and fashion’ with the rockers and the racers. The whole thing will be packaged into a digital content stream which fans can enjoy around the world.
The deal makes a lot of sense on both sides. F1 is desperate to get more ‘celebs’ to the races, bizarrely that kind of glamour is thin on the ground. Remember the hoopla when the Beckhams came to Silverstone with Honda, well they want that kind of buzz and energy all the time and this is the latest idea on how to achieve that. TV networks expect to see stars and glamour associated with F1 and it hasn’t really delivered on that in recent years.
And for Universal the attraction is clear. The only way to make money in music these days is live events and this will add a new revenue stream for the artists on Universal’s books.
Its shows how the web is changing F1 and the expectation of what is possible. Bernie has always been very suspicious of the internet, because he thinks it’s really hard to protect his rights in such and unregulated free-for-all. But this deal will, I’m sure, be the first of many as F1 looks to open up new revenue streams and drag its business model into the 21st century.