Unit 2 - Unit 2 The Beginning of a National Strategy During...

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The Beginning of a National Strategy During 1955, the Colonel began to lay the groundwork for the emergence of Elvis as a national star. The Colonel had worked out a deal between Elvis’ family and Bob Neal, who was Elvis’ manager, to transfer Elvis’ management contract to Parker for one-year with two two-year options for renewal. The contract called for the Colonel to “assist in any way possible the build– up of Elvis Presley as an artist” and “negotiate all renewals on existing contracts.” In effect, the Colonel gained the exclusive right to direct Elvis’ career and he had far bigger plans for his new client than either Sam Phillips or Bob Neal could possibly imagine. Parker had already succeeded in convincing Phillips to allow for the sale of his recording contract to a major label — if the price was right — and that would prove to be only the first step in the Colonel’s overall strategy. Parker shopped Elvis’ recording contract to the major New York labels and engineered a bidding war between RCA, Columbia, and Atlantic for Elvis’ recording contract. Initially, all three labels balked at the Colonel’ asking price of $40,000, but, in November, Elvis was named “The Most Promising Male Country Artist” at the National Disc Jockey Convention in Nashville and the Colonel gained the leverage he was looking for. He also arranged for a co-publishing deal with Hill & Range Publishers to sweeten the deal. In the end, RCA won out and Elvis’ contract was sold by Sun for $35,000 with a $5000 royalty paid to the singer. This was the largest sum ever paid for a relative unknown by a major label and significantly more than had ever been paid for a country singer, even an established star. For Sam Phillips, the sale to RCA was a tremendous deal even though it appears to have been one of the greatest blunders in music history in light of what happened. The sale figure was significantly higher than the $20,000 minimum that Phillips had set as a negotiating point and more than Sun, without any national distribution of its own, could have ever gleaned by selling Elvis’ records through major distribution companies. The sale brought Sun out of debt and Phillips invested a substantial portion of his money in the new Holiday Inn motel corporation that was forming in Memphis…and probably made more from that investment than he would have ever realized from the sale of Elvis Presley records on the Sun label. But whatever the wisdom of Phillips’ sale, Col. Parker had completed the first step in the creation of what he was already calling “America’s newest musical sensation.” The First RCA Recordings On November 22, 1955, RCA Victor signed Elvis Presley and within days began to promote “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” / “Mystery Train” as the first release on the new label. As part of the arrangement made with Sam Phillips, RCA had acquired all of the recordings made at Sun and immediately began to re–release the five Sun singles on the RCA label. All five Sun singles were re–released in December of 1955. By mid-December, the promotional power of
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Unit 2 - Unit 2 The Beginning of a National Strategy During...

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