Irish rockers U2 have followed in Madonna's footsteps by signing a 12-year deal with music promoters Live Nation. The agreement will see the band continue to release records through their longtime record label Universal Music, but Live Nation, which has been handling U2's tours since 1980, will take over the group's merchandising as well as digital and branding rights. The deal follows the ground-breaking recording and touring contract Madonna signed with the firm last year (07), which was rumoured to be worth in excess of $120 million (GBP60 million) over 10 years. And although financial details of the contract have not been disclosed, frontman Bono insists the deal has been on the cards for a long time. He says, "We've been dating for over 20 years now. It's about time we tied the knot." And the band's manager, Paul MCGuinness, is convinced the Live Nation collaboration is perfect timing. He adds, "U2 are doing their best work right now, on record and in concert. The opportunity to integrate U2 and Live Nation's vision of the future is a great extension of our established business."