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Sony sends Crowe flying
'They're grooming Ally for the big time'

Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist
Friday, April 25, 2003

Upwards of $500,000 US will be spent on marketing newly signed Nanaimo singer Allison Crowe in North America, says her manager.

The marketing campaign will push a new Crowe album slated for a late summer or an early fall release, said Adrian Du Plessis.

The pianist/singer-songwriter has now struck a record deal with U.S. music industry veteran Jack Ponti, former manager of pop singer India.Arie.

Next month, Crowe and her band will fly to New York City to start work on a recording to be distributed by Sony-owned RED Distribution, the music industry's largest independent distribution company.

Said Du Plessis: "They're grooming Ally for the big time."

New Jersey-based Ponti and his partners have signed an exclusive distribution deal with RED/Sony for their new, yet-to-be-named record label. Crowe is the label's first signing.

"It is pretty exciting. It's pretty new. I've never been to New York before," said Crowe, adding that she'll have to overcome her fear of flying to make the trip.

Du Plessis -- who in a former life was one of Canada's top stock market investigators -- said Ponti's arrangement with Red/Sony is a potentially revolutionary model for the record industry.

Ponti's new label will endeavour to slowly and methodically develop Crowe as an artist, initially saving Sony the risk and expense of funnelling large amounts of cash into a untested new artist. In return, Crowe and Ponti will benefit from having the power and distribution capability of a corporate giant like Sony behind them.

David, Allison Crowe, Kevin Clevette
Allison Crowe and her band will leave for New York in May.

"We're at the beginning of it. (The deal) may eventually be the model for the industry," said Du Plessis. He said Ponti's company will function more like labels from the 1960s and '70s when more time was devoted to nurture musicians.

"He (Ponti) is creating an old-style label in a modern age ... It's almost like it's radical."

Ponti, reached Thursday at his office in Toms River, N.J., was close-lipped on the new deal. He did confirm that an agreement has been struck with Crowe, and that his company has made her a top priority.

"We're not in a rush. Everything is slow and methodical. We know she's a real talent and she'll have the ability to develop herself at her own pace," Ponti said.

Du Plessis and Ponti declined to provide specifics of Crowe's record deal. However, Du Plessis did say that Crowe will be a "financial partner" with the new label, rather than the traditional arrangement in which an artist is treated as an employee. In this way, she might see significant financial recompense after sales of 100,000 for example, rather than sales of between 700,000 and one million as is typical with major label contracts.

Du Plessis believes Crowe is one of a group of new artists to be signed to Ponti's label, including a nu-metal band (Brand New Sin), a ghetto-metal rap artist (Mamie Gun), a pop-rock trio and a French R & B singer (Humphrey). Ponti's label partners are Akbar Shamji, the founder of Soulife Records, and Francois Pham-Quang, the former head of Lehman Brothers's European equity derivatives sales.

After completing her recording during May and June, Crowe will make a cross-Canada tour, and then undertake a tour of the United States commencing in September.

Her album will be recorded at New York's Boondog Recording Studios. The producer is Billy Branigan, the brother of singer Laura Branigan and a recording artist in his own right.

About a dozen songs will be selected from 30 of Crowe's original compositions.

Copyright  2003 Times Colonist (Victoria)