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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
10/20/2004 4:56:01 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Kanye West.

After being courted by virtually every large music company, rap / hip-hop superstar Kanye West has inked a joint-venture deal with Sony Music's U.S. label group, a part of SonyBMG.

Such deals, which can be extremely expensive and often fail, have become rarer over the last few years, as companies have sought to cut costs amid rampant piracy. But SonyBMG execs say they are confident Kanye West can develop the next big names in hip-hop and R&B.

"We had no apprehension, because it was Kanye," said Donnie Ienner, president and CEO of the Sony Music Label Group, U.S., overseeing labels Columbia Records and Epic Records. "This is one deal we would have said yes to at any point. He's just so smart and so prolific.

"We don't make many of these deals, because, honestly, they don't usually work." Financial terms were not disclosed, but executives called it a long-term deal.

Sony Music and Bertelsmann's BMG merged earlier this year, forming SonyBMG. The company, with a market share of 30.54 percent in the U.S., is the largest music company in the country, although Universal remains the largest globally.

Talks with Kanye West began about three months ago, and the relationship between Sony and the rapper-producer began when West brought soul singer and songwriter John Legend to Columbia Records.

West has been working on Legend's upcoming album, which will be the first release under his new label, which will be called "Getting Out Our Dreams."

Developing new artists at Sony Music has been a priority under CEO Andy Lack, who took the reins of the company last year and formed a new division, Sony Urban Music.

As a recording artist, West is still tied to Roc-a-Fella Records, part of Universal Music's Island Def Jam label.

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