Spanish media conglomerate Grupo Zeta is launching a "360-degree" music label called El Volcan Musica.

The Barcelona-based group says its new arm has three chief aims: to árecord and release "quality Spanish music made in Spain"; to promote Latin alternative music; to compile/release soundtracks to TV series and films made by Zeta's audiovisual division.

Zeta president Antonio Asensio has chosen an experienced music industry team to run El Volcan, led by director Javier Linan who was -- until earlier this year -- A&R director at EMI Spain & Portugal.

"My first priority is building up a quality catalog of Spanish artists," says Linan. "But I also want to foment more interest in Latin alternative music, which at the moment in Spain is very much in the shadow of Anglo-Saxon product."

The label's first releases will be by well-known Spanish artists Josele Santiago ("Loco Encontrao") on Sept. 22 and Albert Pla ("La Diferencia") on September 29. Formerly with EMI, Santiago was a member of leading 1970s/80s Madrid-based rock band Los Enemigos, and Pla is a Catalan singer/songwriter who plays regularly in Latin America. Distribution is handled by Madrid-based Locomotive.

El Volcan's first licensed releases of Latin alternative product will be by Mexico's Plastilina Mosh ("All You Need Is Mosh") and Nortec Collective ("Tijuana Sound Machine") in October, followed shortly after by the new album from Colombia's Aterciopelados ("Rio").

The Latin American album releases are the result of a deal Linan has reached with North Hollywood, CA-based Tomás Cookman, predident and founder of the Nacional Records label. Cookman also organises the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) in either New York or Los Angeles.

"I have long been a fan of the type of artists that Javier signs, and I think he is clearly positioned to understand the kind of artists we have on Nacional Records, and to know how to promote them in his market," says Cookman. "There is a great wave of alternative Latin music coming out of the [United States], Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina. I look forward to seeing more doors open in Spain for these amazing artists, thanks to El Volcan."

Linan says he also wants to introduce "cool" music soundtracks of popular TV series produced by Zeta. "We shall choose the artists, commission songs, and compile the soundtracks in the same way this is happening in America," says Linan.

Asensio (27) is the son of Grupo Zeta president founder Antonio Asensio, who died in April 2001. The younger Asensio took over the presidency role last year. "We decided to set up a music company, something more than just a label," he says. "El Volcan will sign artists, record and release records, and run its publishing and booking divisions. Even though the entertainment business is living an agitated moment because of technological changes, music is being listened to more than ever."

Asensio says the music company is El Volcan is part of "a wider audiovisual expansion" of the newspaper and magazine publisher, which already operates three TV production companies. "We want to take maximum care of the music of our products," he says, "and we think that Javier Linan and his experienced team can bring us extensive added value."

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