Mathew Knowles has signed the O'Jays to a multiple-album deal through his Sony Music-distributed Music World Music (MWM) label. The trio's first album under the pact is due this summer.

Mathew Knowles has signed the O'Jays to a multiple-album deal through his Sony Music-distributed Music World Music (MWM) label. The trio's first album under the pact is due this summer.

MWM's move is the latest in a series of initiatives by labels to sign veteran R&B acts, many of whom can still sell out concert venues.

Def Soul Classic signed Patti LaBelle last year. The first single from the project will be released shortly.
Indie Thump Records just started a classic R&B division with first signings Lakeside, Midnight Star and Club Nouveau.

"I talked to [Sony Music U.S. president] Don Ienner 18 months ago about the opportunities that exist with classic artists," Knowles says. "The beautiful thing is you don't have to spend a lot of marketing and branding dollars: People already know who these acts are. If you keep the costs low, you can, in fact, make a profit.

"The key to this is having great music and finding great producers without spending $30,000 to $50,000 a song. This is a new era in music that is going to apply to every artist: keeping costs down."

Knowles also plans to sign classic soul acts to his urban label through Sanctuary. He says he has had "initial discussions" with '80s R&B hitmakers the Whispers. He has already had "initial discussions" with '80s R&B hitmakers the Whispers. Knowles says his wish list includes Chaka Khan, De La Soul and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.