Monday, January 30th, 2006
I'm Working But I'm Not Working For You
This Best Buy ad has sparked off some really interesting debate about the dilemma the larger indie labels face when large retailers (like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc) sell their titles at loss-leader prices, and what that does to the indie stores who have supported the labels over the years, enabling the label to muster the resources to break the larger acts in the first place? And while it’s certainly the label’s duty to ensure that their artists reach as wide an audience and sell as many records as possible, what do they do when this can potentially hurt their own retail base, to whom they also have an obligation? This is one of the trickle-down effects of indie crossing over to the mainstream that lots of people (myself included) had probably never thought of, but as you’ll read, the potential impact of no longer flying underneath the radar of popular culture can be considerable. There’s a lot to read in the following links, but it’s worthwhile to do so if you’re got the time (and the inclination).
Merge honcho Mac McCaughan is offers his POV at their own message boards and at the blog of mail-order house Saki Store where representatives of Matador and Secretly Canadian also weigh in. Read the posts in order starting here, then here, over to here and finally here, with an epilogue of sorts here.
I guess I’m lucky in the sense that there are no big box retailers I could get to from downtown Toronto, even if I wanted to, so that temptation to take advantage of their loss leader tactics isn’t really there, though I have to wonder if these marketing strategies really work? I mean, has anyone really gone into a Best Buy to pick up a cheap CD and walked out with a microwave oven? Furthermore, the good folks at Rotate This and Soundscapes here in Toronto will almost always sell for less than any of the big stores on Yonge St, so I can get a good price and clear consicence for supporting the independents. But if I were still a ‘burbanite with a Future Shop on the corner selling a title for half the price of what the local, low-volume indie store (if such even exists) does, well I honestly don’t know what I’d do. It’s one thing to spend an extra buck or so to buy indie, but if you’re going to be saving six or seven dollars a title, well dang – that adds up. What’re your thoughts on the matter?
And while I’m talking Superchunk, it’s exciting to note that the band are ending their hiatus to play SxSW in March, probably snagging the 1AM slot at Antone’s on the 18th to close out the Merge showcase and the festival itself. I doubt I’ll be willing to spend the time in line the ensure getting in to that one, but it’s certainly an option. And the band has been posting rarities on their website that didn’t make it onto their Cup Of Sand compilation from a couple years a go. Here’s the current one:
And there’s a lot more good stuff on their audio page.
Know how I said a couple days ago I didn’t know when Rainer Maria’s new one Catastrophe Keeps Us Together came out? Scratch that – it’ll be in stores April 4 on Grunion Records. Yeah, I don’t know who that is either. CMJ has a little info.
The Pitch talks boxing with Aimee Mann, who has begun an acoustic tour that will bring her to the Mod Club on February 6 with Chuck Prophet (via Largehearted Boy). Artvoice also has a feature and The Rocky Mountain Bullhorn finds out what she’s been listening to lately – nothing.
Howling Bells are finally streaming a new song on their website. “Wishing Stone” will be the band’s next single and is due out on Bella Union on February 27. There’s already a video produced and circulating out there somewhere – if someone finds it online, please share.
The Washington Post floats some new lingo to peppen up the category names in the Bloggie Awards. Tomorrow’s the last day to vote, so if you haven’t yet, please do so (for me as Best Canadian, natch) and if you’re stumped on some of the other categories, might I suggest Photojunkie for Best Photography (but NOT best Canadian… sorry Rannie!), Said The Gramophone for Best Writing and You Ain’t No Picasso for Best Teen?
np – Tanya Donelly / Beautysleep