W brand signs innovative music deal

W Hotels Worldwide and MasterCard Worldwide have joined forces with SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT’S Commercial Music Group to launch a groundbreaking new platform offering W Hotel guests and W Brand loyalists exclusive insider access to a world of musical experiences. Introducing W WonderLust Live, an exclusively curated year-long musical journey featuring live performances by award-winning and emerging artists, starting with Grammy-nominated superstar Natasha Bedingfield and the sensational Irish singer/songwriter Paddy Casey. Other artists will be announced in the near future. These exclusive musical experiences, accessible only within the stylish surroundings of W Hotels, will be hosted by award-winning producer Bryan Michael Cox and documented by legendary photographer, Mick Rock. The first W WonderLust Live musical experience featured Epic Records recording artist Natasha Bedingfield in a private performance at W New York-Union Square on May 19, 2008. The second performance will be held on June 10, 2008 at W Los Angeles-Westwood with Victor recording artist Paddy Casey.

“From our Living Rooms to our guest rooms, music is an integral part of the W guest experience,” said Phil McAveety, Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “W Hotels was one of the first hotel brands to create musical CD compilations and now we are taking our passion for music one step further with an entire year dedicated to the music W loyalists appreciate.”

“W WonderLust Live provides MasterCard cardholders with the opportunity to enjoy amazing live musical performances,” said Xavier James, Managing Vice President, Travel, Sports and Entertainment, U.S. Commerce Development, MasterCard Worldwide. “W Hotels knows and appreciates great music and we are pleased to work together to deliver unique and meaningful experiences to our cardholders.”

Throughout the year, W Hotels will host additional performances in select properties across the United States, all featuring both established and emerging artists from SONY BMG. Grammy-Award winning producer Bryan Michael Cox, who has worked with Usher and Mary J. Blige, will host select performances and conduct interviews with artists for W’s new in-room TV channel. During each performance, W Hotel guests and loyalists are invited to visit the Tava Bar, a whimsical pop-up bar serving specialty cocktails created with Tava’s sparkling, fruit flavored beverages.

“We are very excited to be working with W Hotels to provide this unique opportunity for music lovers to connect with great artists in a unique environment,” said John Ingrassia, President of SONY BMG’s Commercial Music Group. “Natasha Bedingfield’s May 19th performance in New York was the perfect way to launch this series - she’s a truly incredible artist, and her album, “Pocketful Of Sunshine,” is one of the most dynamic releases of the year. The follow up performance by Paddy Casey - who is already eleven times platinum in Ireland - promises to be equally spectacular.”

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“W is a great brand, and we look forward to further extending our relationship with them as we create additional music experiences,” said JJ Rosen, Executive Vice President, SONY BMG’s Commercial Music Group. “We will be working with all of the SONY BMG labels to announce more performances in the weeks and months ahead.”

“I’m excited about partnering with the swankiest hotel known to the music scene, W Hotels, on this innovative music series and especially with an artist like Natasha Bedingfield who makes great pop music with wonderful melodies and strong hooks that are in line with a strong message,” said Bryan Michael Cox. “Her tone is incredible!”

Long after the curtains close, the performances will live on thanks to Live Nation Studios and renowned rock and roll photographer Mick Rock. Live Nation Studios will record select performances so that jet-setting music lovers can stream them via the Live Nation Concerts channel available at www.livenation.com. Mick Rock, himself a legend in the music industry, will photograph performances in the W WonderLust Live series for an upcoming White Space photo exhibit that will go on tour exclusively at select W Hotels around the world, granting even more music lovers access to the front row.

“I’m buzzed to be shooting the live music series for the W Hotels, especially knowing W is going to select some of these images for their White Space exhibition series,” said Mick Rock.

As part of its year-long musical celebration, W Hotels will debut WONDERLUST THE WORLDWIDE TOUR, the latest volume in W’s ultra popular CD series, produced by SONY BMG. An exclusive compilation of contemporary style and sounds from global talents, the CD highlights music from W’s current and upcoming destinations - from Istanbul to Athens, Santiago to Shanghai, Milan to Marrakech.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members will be treated to exclusive musical experiences throughout the series with the opportunity to bid “Starpoints” through Moments, the SPG loyalty program’s online auction at www.spg.com/moments. Winners of the WonderLust VIP Moments package will be given two tickets to a performance, an opportunity to meet the featured artist, autographed CD and an exclusive W gift bag.
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