Sony BMG Music Entertainment Australia has become the first major label Down Under to invest in artist management and touring.

The firm has taken a 50% share in Sydney-based Caplice Management and is negotiating with a second artist management firm. It is also setting up a concert tour business.

Caplice Management, set up in 1995 by managing director David Caplice, looks after Sony BMG acts Human Nature, David Campbell, Dean Geyer, Damien Leith and the Young Divas, plus Warner Music act singer Katie Noonan and TV presenters Craig Low and Toni Pearen.

In 2002, Caplice Management and Sony BMG set up a joint-venture pop and R&B record label called Random Records, to which Paulini and Tammin Sursok are signed.

"We are looking at a range of projects including extending event shows and touring opportunities and also further media opportunities through our contacts and productions," Sony BMG Music Entertainment Australia chairman and CEO Denis Handlin tells Billboard.biz. He emphasises that Caplice Management will remain a separate business and maintain separate offices.

David Caplice said in a statement, "With a bigger infrastructure we can now develop more artists and careers and help our established acts, like Human Nature, David Campbell and Katie Noonan, find more opportunities here and overseas. It's a very exciting time for our business."

A touring division to be launched next year will initially focus on tours by new artists and staging festivals with its acts. Headlock Media, its TV and film division set up in early 2006, will create TV specials around these events. Handlin emphasises the tour division will not compete against major promoters here, but adds, "The touring market is a large one with room for more players".

Handlin declined to comment on negotiations with the second artist management company, or specific financial performances of new divisions. Headlock Media, he says, is "actually ahead of business plan" with two weekly programs on free to air channels - "Music Jungle" on Nine Network and "Hitz Blitz" on the regional WIN Network - and specials based around Evanescence, Good Charlotte and Guy Sebastian. A new Internet program series will be announced in the new year, as will be a number of new TV productions.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment grabbed a 30% share of the Australian recorded music market through 2007, according to Handlin.

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