Battle Of Bands


Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine is negotiating with the National Football League for an all-Interscope Super Bowl halftime show, The Post has learned.

It would mark the first time that the much-watched halftime show featured artists all from the same label, and Iovine’s pitch, which came within the last week or so, has ruffled feathers at rival labels, according to sources familiar with the matter.

A source close to the NFL said the league, in cooperation with the show’s producer, MTV, will soon make a decision on which artists will perform, and an announcement could come as soon as this week.

A spokesman for the NFL said, “along with MTV, we are continuing discussions with some of the most popular artists in the world.” A representative for Iovine was unavailable for comment.

Iovine is hoping to feature No Doubt, Mary J. Blige and possibly Eminem – all Interscope artists – while the league and MTV are also considering an alternative plan that would feature Outkast and Janet Jackson. Outkast is signed to BMG’s Arista label, and Jackson is on EMI’s Virgin label.

“They very well may do that, but Jimmy has thrown a monkey wrench into the works,” according to one source familiar with the negotiations.

As the popularity of the Super Bowl halftime show has exploded in recent years, record labels have stepped up their lobbying efforts to get their artists featured. In past years, the NFL had to go out and recruit labels to offer their stars, according to an NFL source.

“It sells records,” said a music industry executive of an appearance on the show.

Last year, some 130 million people tuned in for the Super Bowl, and an estimated 90 percent of those viewers stuck around and watched the halftime show, according to Nielsen.

It is unclear if Iovine will be successful in his efforts, but he does have tight relationships with the NFL. He is a huge football fan and has produced the show in past years. Because CBS is broadcasting the game, MTV was chosen as the halftime show’s producer. Viacom owns both CBS and MTV.

Iovine was a producer of last year’s show, which featured No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain and Sting, and the previous year’s show featuring U2.

The Super Bowl will air Feb. 1 from Houston, and America Online is sponsoring the halftime show as part of its growing marketing efforts. AOL plans to spend some $200 million on ads in 2004.

AOL will spend between $7 million and $10 million to sponsor the event, which also includes five 30-second commercials. Last year, AT&T Wireless sponsored the show.

Interscope, a division of Universal Music, has claimed the top spot among record labels in terms of sales this year, partly by counting record sales from Dreamworks Records, which Universal recently acquired, The Los Angeles Times reported last week.