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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK
How to sell Elvis again
Elvis fan John Gadd with limited edition number 0001 of That's All Right
That's All Right is likely to be a record 19th UK number one for Elvis
This week has seen the re-release of Elvis Presley's That's All Right to mark the 50th anniversary of the recording of the record, said by some to have been the birth of commercial rock n' roll.

But who decides what parts of the extensive Elvis archive will be released, and when?

That's All Right has gone straight to number one in the Billboard Hot 100, and looks set to be top in the UK by the end of the week.

It is just the latest in a long line of anniversaries, re-releases, box sets, special DVDs and re-mixes - such as A Little Less Conversation, which got to number one in the UK two years ago after being featured in a TV advert for Nike.

Roger Seemon, the co-producer of Elvis's back catalogue at BMG and the man responsible for all the new releases and reissues connected to the singer, told BBC World Service's The Music Biz programme that a regular Elvis committee decided on what would happen - including getting radio stations around the world to team up to play the track at exactly the same time

"Obviously it is, theoretically, the birth of rock and roll, and so many musicians were influenced and inspired by that," he said.

"One of the dreams at that time was could we get everybody to play That's All Right around the world at the same time to celebrate that magic occasion."

He said that the success in managing to make this happen - with over 1,250 stations joining in - was "quite staggering."

Die-hard fans

Mr Seemon said it was a "reasonably easy process" to decide what parts of Elvis's back-catalogue to reissue.

"Obviously there is so much out there already," he explained.

Elvis Presley
The natural instinct is that everybody owns an Elvis album - but the truth of the matter is that they don't
Roger Seemon
"We really started restoring and transcribing all of Elvis's original archive - the session reels, the tapes, and all the criteria for releasing albums way back in the early 90s.

"We systematically went back through every single one of his session tapes. And the first album that really came from that was the Complete 50s Masters box set, which was Grammy-nominated in 1992."

He said that at that early stage they wanted to create documents of the key components of Elvis's recording career "in order to set the record straight."

"Over a long period of time, we actually achieved that."

Now, he said, what the committee decides to put out depends on the consumer.

With the 50th anniversary of That's All Right being such a big event, there are "minimal" plans for other releases over the next 12 months.

What is released will be an album of the forthcoming Elvis Broadway show, as well as upgrades of original albums for dedicated Elvis fans.

Mr Seemon said that a number of releases are targeted at this specialist market.

"It's fair to say that Elvis's fan base is still very active, and we also have to create albums that include lots of rarities or unreleased performances.

"So when we're planning forward, the committee really tries to get the best out of these type of products on a global basis. That's really where the strategy is."

Market research

With so many anniversaries and landmarks providing opportunities to re-release records, there is seemingly great potential for Elvis overkill.

But Mr Seemon said that when this happens, the media and the fans let them know.

Jailhouse Rock
A CD of a Broadway Elvis musical is in the pipeline for the next year
"If the commentary starts to get a bit hostile, then you take notice - all record companies do," he said.

"And if fans start to get a bit disgruntled by it, then we have to listen, because obviously they don't buy the CDs anymore."

He stressed that the company did try to make sure there was no repetition of specialist releases, but that Greatest Hits compilations would be put out every three to four years.

"All record companies will apply this logic," he said.

"There is always a new audience out there for a major established artists, because people are always re-discovering artists' music.

"I'll never forget some market research we did on Elvis 10 years ago - when you sit in a room with 10 people who you drag off the street to discuss what they would buy and what they like, one out 10 people owned an Elvis album.

"The natural instinct is that everybody owns an Elvis album - but the truth of the matter is that they don't."



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