Live Nation eyes Shakira deal: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Latin music pop star Shakira is in talks with concert promoter Live Nation for a contract that will include touring, merchandising and recording, according to people familiar with the talks.

Shakira performs during "The Concert For The Children" organized for the Latin American aid organization ALAS (Latin American in Solidarity Action) in Buenos Aires, May 17, 2008. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

The Colombian-born songstress, whose 2006 hit “Hips Don’t Lie” was No. 1 in the United States, is expected to complete a multimillion-dollar deal with Live Nation before the end of the year, after months of talks.

The New York Post reported on Tuesday that the so-called 360-degree deal could be worth up to $70 million, though one person close to the artist said she should be worth more based on her recent touring success.

Live Nation’s strategy is to expand its business beyond handling artists’ touring to also offer recording, merchandising, ticket sales and other services that have traditionally been handled by disparate companies.

Live Nation already has a touring relationship with Shakira, having handled the U.S. leg of her “Oral Fixation” tour last year. People familiar with the global tour said it had grossed over $100 million.

Shakira’s recording rights currently belong with Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s Epic Label. The 31-year-old, who has sold more than 50 million albums around the world, still has two more studio albums to deliver -- one in English and the other in Spanish -- under the Epic contract, as well as a greatest hits album.

Sony BMG is a venture between Sony Corp and Bertelsmann.

Shakira grossed more than $100 million in live show ticket sales between 1999 and May 30, 2007, according to Pollstar figures. Though she has had several global hits and sold out shows all over the world, she is particularly strong in the Latin American/Spanish language market.

Last year, Live Nation signed Madonna to a similar 360-degree deal for $120 million over 10 years. It has also signed deals with rapper Jay-Z and Irish band U2.

The company believes it can improve its profit margins and leverage the artist relationships with other business partners through such comprehensive contracts with big-name artists.

The evolution of the business model has not been without some difficulties. Last month Live Nation Chairman Michael Cohl stepped down in a disagreement with Chief Executive Michael Rapino over the pace at which the company should sign up artists to 360-degree deals.

Cohl, who is now a consultant to Live Nation, had wanted the company to sign up artists at a more rapid pace.

Editing by Brian Moss