MLB.com to power Web backend for music co.

In a melding of the sports and music worlds, artist licensing and merchandising company Signatures Network has formed a 50/50 partnership with Major League Baseball's online unit, MLB Advanced Media. Under the agreement MLB.com will execute the websites and online ticketing, merch, fanclub, etc., efforts for Signatures acts including Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Petty, Madonna, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others.

In short, Signatures will combine its relationships with artists and managers and an understanding of their needs with mlb.com’s expansive new media infrastructure and information technology. The two entities will split profits after overhead and artist royalties are paid.

“[mlb.com] has this state-of-the-art infrastructure and all elements of the technology, including webcasting, online ticketing, all kinds of subscrition services, blog services, and they have done a remarkable job of building the online business of Major League Baseball,” Signatures Network CEO Dell Furano tells Billboard.biz.

Furano says through the newly forged deal, Signatures and mlb.com will build “a series of new artist websites that will focus on selling music, selling tickets, selling merchandise, and building up the fanbase worldwide with all the data that goes along with that.”

Signatures Network has already been in the artist website world through official sites for such bands as U2, Kiss and others. Other artists run their own sites or contract with such firms as Music Today.

“But [mlb.com’s] abilities on webcasting, online ticketing, e-commerce marketing, etc., were significantly advanced beyond what Signatures or what the other companies in this space were doing,” says Furano.

The joint venture will create 20 to 30 new artist websites in the next year according to Furano. “And building those websites out, providing content editors and providing the infrastructure, is a major job,” he adds. “This is still very new to many artists.”