French Victoires Ceremony Boosts Artist Sales
March 10, 2010 - Global | Rock and Pop
By Andre Paine, London
The 25th French Victoires de la Musique awards ceremony increased its TV audience, attracting an average of 3.2 million viewers compared with 3 million last year.
Three artists won two awards at the ceremony including Benjamin Biolay, who joined independent label Naïve in 2009 after four albums released by EMI. Often compared to Serge Gainsbourg, Biolay was awarded for best male artist and best album with "La Superbe," a 23-track set that he financed himself.
"We give him total freedom, including his choice of releasing a double album," commented Naïve CEO Patrick Zelnik.
Biolay's victory had an immediate impact on the album's sales, according to Naïve international development director Thomas Lorain. In France, the album jumped to No. 1 in iTunes chart the day after the ceremony - he was outside the top 20 before - and also topped Amazon.fr's physical sales. Lorain says 20,000 additional CDs were shipped in France, added to more than 100,000 copies already shipped since the October 2009 release.
"La Superbe" also entered iTunes top 10 in Belgium and top 20 in Switzerland after the ceremony. Lorain says a tour and a physical distribution are being considered in the U.S.
Universal got the lion's share of the Victoires with eight awards (against nine in 2009), including Olivia Ruiz winning for best female artist, an award she won in 2007, and for best video for "Elle Panique" (Polydor).
Newcomer Izia, the daughter of French chanson icon Jacques Higelin, won for best live breakthrough and for best rock album with "Izia" (AZ/Universal) released June 2009. The album jumped to No. 3 in iTunes France's chart after the ceremony.
"This proves that our policy not to cut in artist development is right," Universal France CEO Pascal Nègre tells Billboard.biz.
Independent labels won four awards, against three in 2009 and two in 2008.
"It is no more shameful to be signed on an indie and some of them have reached a significant size," commented Victoires President and CEO of independent label Discograph Olivier Lacourt, naming Wagram, Naïve or Because as examples.
Other awards at the March 6 ceremony went to Oxmo Puccino for urban album for "L'arme de Paix" (Cinq7/Wagram Music); Salif Keita for world music album for "La Difference" (Universal); Coeur de pirate for original song for "Comme des Enfants" (Barclay/Universal); Johnny Hallyday for "Tour 66" for best tour (booker is Jean-Claude Camus Productions); Birdy Nam Nam for best electronic artist (Jive Epic/Sony Music); Pony Pony Run Run for best breakthrough act (3eme Bureau/Wagram Music); and Yodelice for best breakthrough album "Tree of life" (Mercury/Universal).
Alain Bashung, who died in 2009, won his 12th Victoire for best music DVD, "Alain Bashung à L'Olympia" (Barclay/Universal).
The Victoires winners were decided by a 1,200-strong industry academy, except the best breakthrough artist category which was decided by public votes.
Stevie Wonder, who performed an 11-minute medley of his hits, and French veteran Charles Aznavour were also feted in recognition of their outstanding careers.
The ceremony, which focuses on live performances by the nominees, was broadcasted live on national TV channel France 2 and on national radio France Interhttp://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3id98ddd2a7feb2ad8f0cbd1e788543b69