V Energy gains naming rights to AIR charts.

Sydney-based soft drink company Frucor's energy drink V Energy has reached an agreement to sponsor the Australian Independent Record Labels Assn.'s music charts.

In addition to receiving exclusive naming rights for the V Energy AIR Charts, the drinks firm and the labels trade body will collaborate on a raft of activities to promote indie music nationwide through V Energy's "Turn Up Hear More" campaign.

The deal, initially for one year, is optioned for three years. "They think outside the box, like independent music," AIR's Brisbane-based chief executive Stuart Watters tells Billboard.Biz.

V Energy has taken steps to establish its brand in the Australian music community through its existing sponsorship of the Local Produce stage, which gives a platform to little-known independent acts during January's Big Day Out festival tour.

The new relationship will build on such initiatives as the recent giveaway compilation CDs, which AIR and V Energy developed to promote Local Produce stage performers.

In a statement, V Energy's Sydney-based senior brand manager Susan Wilkinson said, "The Australian independent music industry is in such an exciting place at the moment and we are thrilled to be working closely with AIR to help take great music to the people when, where and how they want it."

The AIR charts, launched in 2000, features weekly lists of singles/EPs and albums released on independent labels. Monthly charts cover electronica/dance, jazz and blues/roots. Plans are to include a monthly country music chart from mid-year.

The charts appear on AIR's Web site and are syndicated through street papers, trade publications and community radio stations. Watters estimates its total weekly reach at 250,000 consumers.

Marketing initiatives are being planned with V Energy to widen the charts' distribution, and extend its reach into mainstream TV and radio.