It's Official: AC/DC Sign With EPIC RECORDS

AC/DC have signed a multi-album deal with Epic Records, according to Billboard.com.

The first releases under the deal will be refurbished reissues of classic albums such as "Back in Black", "Highway to Hell", and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", due early next year. Further reissues will follow, all of which will sport new liner notes and rare photos, and utilize Sony's proprietary ConnecteD technology to unlock special online content created for each release.

It is understood that AC/DC's next studio album, due sometime next year, will complete the group's contractual obligation to Elektra. AC/DC has spent the past 26 years of its career recording under the Warner Music Group umbrella. The group's back catalog is one of the most consistent sellers on Billboard's Top Pop Catalog chart. According to Epic parent Sony, 1980's "Back in Black" has sold 41 million copies worldwide, making it the sixth highest-selling album in history.

"We look at this as something brand new," says Thomas D. Mottola, chairman and chief executive of Sony Music. "For us, it becomes a real coup to associate with a band that has long been associated with the Warner Group." A spokesman for Warner Music Group said "They are one of the world's great rock bands and we wish them the best."

AC/DC is a high-stakes bet for Sony, which is investing in the classic band at a time when industry-wide catalog sales have begun to level off as most people have completed replacing their record and tape collections with compact discs. A person familiar with the matter says Sony is projecting as much as $40 million to $50 million per year in revenue from the deal, and thinks the band's material could generate $50 million in profit in the coming five years. AC/DC has sold more than 140 million albums worldwide in its lifetime, and Sony hopes that DVD and the introduction of the band to new fans will help expand the pot.

Meanwhile, Image Entertainment has set a Feb. 18 release date for the DVD "Rockmasters — AC/DC", capturing an Oct. 27, 1977, concert in London. The video finds the band, at the time fronted by the late Bon Scott, running through such favorites as "Let There Be Rock", "T.N.T." , and "Bad Boy Boogie".

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