Home Entertainment : PolyGram’s Music Video Strategy


Music videos have never sold as well as some optimists back in the mid-1980s predicted. They’re only a small part of the home-entertainment business.


Indeed, executives do cartwheels when a music video sells 100,000 copies. By comparison, a performer who only sells that many copies of an album is liable to wind up unemployed.

Video companies are always looking for ways to lure customers to buy music videos. One way is to offer music that’s only available on video.


That’s PolyGram’s strategy with new videos by U2 and the Cranberries--both out Tuesday, priced at $20. “This music is only available on video,” said Paul Freehauf, the company’s senior director of sellthrough marketing. “There will be no audio release of any of this music.”

U2’s “Zoo TV Live From Sydney” is a two-hour concert filmed in Australia. It doesn’t feature any new music, but the Cranberries’ video, “The Cranberries Live,” does.

Freehauf explained that, in addition to eight songs from the group’s hit debut album, the video features live versions of seven unreleased songs. Five of these tunes, he added, will appear on the group’s second album, due this fall.

One problem with selling music videos is that many fans don’t know they exist. So PolyGram is going to put CD containers advertising the video in the music section of various stores. “If fans come in looking for an album, they’ll find out there’s a music video in the video section,” Freehauf said.


Another reason music videos have never really caught on is that, played on standard TV speakers with a mono VCR, the music doesn’t sound very good. PolyGram is urging fans to hook their stereo systems to their TVs.

Special Interest Videos

The grim but outstanding two-hour documentary “When Ireland Starved” details the famine that killed millions last century, using sketches to illustrate the commentary. It helps to explain the Ireland-England feud. For $30 from Celtic Video, (212) 689-4853. . . . College basketball fans--Arkansas supporters in particular--will appreciate CBS Video’s rush-released look at the school’s recent triumph, “Hog Wild: The Official 1994 NCAA Championship Video.” It includes a lot of footage not seen on TV. For $20, (800) 747-7999.

For Barry Manilow fans, a good-quality concert video, filmed a year ago in London’s Wembley Arena, “The Greatest Hits . . . and Then Some” (BMG, $20). . . . An absolute must for dog-lovers, a three-tape, boxed set from A&E;, narrated by Jack Perkins, about the history of the animal, showing how it came to be known as man’s best friend. On New Video, at $60. . . . College-oriented high schoolers will find plenty of use for the first-rate, one-hour guide, “The Princeton Review: Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT and the College Admissions Process.” From A*Vision Entertainment, at $20, (212) 275-2900.


New on Video

“Addams Family Values” (Paramount). Starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia and Christina Ricci, this is a sequel to the hit “Addams Family” movie based on the old TV series, where sick jokes and poor taste are all in good fun. Despite a lame villainess (Joan Cusack), the sequel is much funnier than the first one--which, however, wasn’t that funny.

“The Three Musketeers” (Disney). A lively Brat Pack version of Alexandre Dumas’ great swashbuckling buddy tale, with Chris O’Donnell as D’Artangnan and Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Oliver Platt as the Musketeers. Breezy fun, geared to the younger crowd, with lots of pageantry and sword fights. But nowhere near as entertaining as director Richard Lester’s 1975 “The Four Musketeers"--the best of the umpteen film versions of this story.



Just announced: Warner’s “On Deadly Ground,” starring Steven Seagal, is due July 20.

Also: “A Dangerous Woman,” “RoboCop 3,” “Into the West” and “Look Who’s Talking Now” (Wednesday); “The Return of Jafar” (next Friday); “The Piano” and “Rudy” (May 25); “Short Cuts” (June 1); “Wayne’s World 2" and “My Life” (June 8); “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (June 14); “The Getaway” and “The Air Up There” (June 15); “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Geronimo: An American Legend” and “Tombstone” (June 22); “The Pelican Brief,” “Philadelphia,” “In the Name of the Father” and “Iron Will” (June 29); “Grumpy Old Men,” “Romeo Is Bleeding” and “House Party 3" (July 6); “Heaven and Earth” and “Car 54, Where Are You?” (July 13); “Beethoven’s 2nd” (August 9); “Jurassic Park” (Oct. 4); “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (Oct. 28).