Stone Temple Pilots: The Billboard Cover Story
Stone Temple Pilots, from L to R: Robert DeLeo, Scott Weiland, Dean DeLeo, Eric Kretz Chapman Baehler

PILOTING A RETURN

With the contractual issues settled, the primary challenge for Atlantic will be mounting a brand-new album from a heritage rock act that hasn't released any new material in nearly a decade. Luckily for both sides, STP didn't fall off the map after splitting in 2002: The band's repertoire is still played daily on radio stations around the country, and its members have remained in the public eye with other musical projects.

In addition to starting his independent label Softdrive Records, releasing the 2008 solo album "Happy in Galoshes" and starting his own clothing line, Weiland was the lead singer of Velvet Revolver, which sold a combined 2.3 million copies of its two albums, "Contraband" (2004) and "Libertad" (2007), according to Nielsen SoundScan. (Weiland and the band had a falling-out in mid-2008, shortly before STP's reunion trek.) The DeLeo brothers kept up their musical chops by teaming with Filter frontman Richard Patrick to form the rock band Army of Anyone, whose 2006 self-titled release has sold 88,000 copies.

These elements, along with a heavy marketing campaign and the lengthy reunion tour that reintroduced STP to its primarily 25- to 35-year-old fan base, have provided Atlantic an ideal setup going into the release of the band's new album, Atlantic GM Livia Tortella notes. "There's still a really strong appetite for this band," she says. "And it was evidenced by the tour and also by how radio still loves them."

Since re-forming in 2008, STP has performed in venues ranging from clubs to arenas, grossing more than $9 million from 54 concerts that drew approximately 211,000 fans, according to Billboard Boxscore. STP booking agent John Branigan at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, who has booked the group since its inception, says the band has played about 125 shows since reuniting. (Billboard only tracks data reported by concert promoters and venues.)

Offers from festival organizers initially led STP to reunite for its first public performance in six years at the 2008 Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio. "It started out as festival offers, then took on a life of its own and kept on going," Branigan says. "When you're at the show, it's just hit after hit."

It remains a challenge to persuade fans who dished out money for STP concert tickets last summer to pony up for an album of new material. Atlantic execs and STP manager Dana Dufine were locking down several deals at press time to ensure that the group's new music doesn't fly past anyone's radar. One key way to accomplish this is by licensing it to film, TV and videogames.

In recent weeks, Universal Music Publishing Group signed a multiyear worldwide publishing deal with Weiland and extended its deal with STP. (Weiland's existing publishing agreement with Bug Music for his share of the STP catalog expires in September.) The new deal with UMPG encompasses the band's catalog, including the new album. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

"We already have major things in the works, like film trailers, big commercials and videogame opportunities," UMPG chairman/CEO David Renzer says, noting that the agreement had just been signed and deals hadn't yet been finalized. "We're very highly focused on the whole synchronization area."

In addition to licensing STP music for the upcoming "Rock Band 3" and "Guitar Hero 6," Dufine says that she's targeting synchs for programs like "True Blood," "Gossip Girl" and "Vampire Diaries."

Additionally, ESPN will use eight STP tracks-including new cuts "Between the Lines," "Dare If You Dare," "Take a Load Off" and "Fast As I Can"-across its programming. And footage from the band's March appearance at South by Southwest will air on TV screens in Best Buy stores and be used for album teasers on STP's Web site. The group has several TV appearances lined up around the album's release-including "Late Show With David Letterman" (May 19) and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (May 25)-and it's scheduled for Howard Stern's Sirius Satellite Radio show May 18. STP's March 27 concert at Chicago's Riviera Theatre will air on VH1, MTV2 and sister HD channel Palladia in late May.

A deluxe version of the album with expanded artwork and two bonus tracks will be available on street date. Target will be given a CD/DVD version of the set with exclusive interview content, and Walmart will air an exclusive STP performance in stores and on its Soundcheck Web site.

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