The past day or so has been a frenzy of music news, with Britney’s made-up mug all over the place, the music industry’s version of Haley’s Comet (Guns N Roses) coming back into view, new releases galore, and the fallout from the AMAs all getting some play. But it’s an article at Billboard.com yesterday that really got me, and hasn’t let go. Jimmy Iovine, chairman at Interscope/A&M, was initially talking about how mega-acts like U2 and Eminem got pushed back to 2009, potentially impairing his 2008 results. I’m actually with him on the whole “no record before its time” theory, but then they asked him about the Best Buy exclusive for the physical release of GNR, and the impact that has on the music-specific stores. Here’s Jimmy’s response:
I don’t know the answer to that. But when a guy works that hard on a record, you want to give it the best possible chance it has. We found a great partner in Best Buy, and Axl’s new management felt it was a good idea. It looks like it’s going to do really well. I mean, really, really well. Beyond anybody’s expectations.
Okay…I’m gonna call bullshit on this one. Does anyone believe that Best Buy got Guns N Roses more publicity than they would have gotten if EVERYONE had been able to sell the record? At the end of the day, Mister Iovine is looking at his company’s payday (and probably Axl’s), and he doesn’t give a damn about the smaller shops. I read over the weekend about Bart’s CD Cellar here in Boulder that was planning on buying the CD at Best Buy, and then would sell the disc for the same price, just to keep some visibility on the title. That’s just not right. It’s one thing to offer exclusive content on a special edition, but it’s another to dictate the route that a consumer has to follow to purchase their music.
Let’s take it one step further…the only reason Best Buy got on board is because they knew that GNR would bring traffic into their stores, and then you’ve got a captive audience to sell stoves and cell phones and budget DVDs and magazine subscriptions (yeah…seriously). I can’t even walk into a Best Buy anymore, because standing in the checkout line from Hell hurts my soul. But if you want the new CD from the Script, or Robyn, or Noah and the Whale, are they going to be at a big-box store, or are they going to be at a store where that’s their lifeblood? How about that copy of Depeche Mode’s “Some Great Reward” that you just HAVE to have at that moment. You’ll find the Greatest Hits at Best Circuit Target Mart, but I doubt you’ll find anything deeper than that.
So bullshit to Jimmy Iovine. The system is broken, and the three record companies that are left are digging themselves into a deep, dark grave. “Chinese Democracy” is only one title, and you’re not going to be able to prop up your label on one title that’s selling for $10. Fix the business model, and reward the folks that have had your backs from day 1. In case you’ve forgotten, those are the folks that are in the business of selling MUSIC, not the folks who sell music at a loss to sell toasters and paper towels.
2 things: Jimmy sold is soul a long time ago. Interscope has out some nasty shit into the world. I agree with you that this kind of greed is what killed brick and mortar stores. (Just bought the Coldplay EP from an indie store inDC!)
Next, you’re in Boulder!? Gahhh! I loved it there – I was there for a week in summer 07 at the Boulderado. I really liked the Dushanbe Tea House and took many walks in the neighborhoods there. Lovely place.
Great article. And I totally agree. It’s shocking how the music industry’s response to fighting music piracy is not to make music available in more ways but to restrict it to make it harder for people to buy! I think the exclusives coming out this year is a really bad way to go. Just as bad as restricting international commerce as XOLondon commented on about 7Digital today. When they made their primary store UK exclusive over the summer I was so mad. I thought we lived in a global economy now. Sorry to rant, but these sorts of things really irritate me as someone who isn’t downloading everything for free illegally and actually wants to spend money on the music he likes. Why are the record companies making it harder for me to do so? I just don’t get it.
Dude, you nailed it. We’ll not be able to get any *physical* back catalogue items from any artist in the near future. At least, not at the big retail chains. Online, sure, but not anywhere else. Sad.
And to add to Xo and Will’s 7-digital slams–yeah, I thought we were supposed to be a global economy too. If I want to throw double $$ at some quality UK tracks, I should be able to do that–even if I don’t live in the UK. Xenophobia sucks.
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XO, I live halfway between Denver and Boulder, so I get the best of both worlds. And the Tea House really is an amazing space. It was actually built overseas, and then shipped here piece by piece.
ww, my guess is that they see early sales as a lost PR opportunity. They would rather focus the purchasing in a country to maximize sales. And we saw how well that worked with Kylie, right?
Yuri, I’m already starting my list for the London trip in May.
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