Industry Surrenders on Used CDs
Billboard reports that CEMA--one of the big six record distributorships--has backed down on its hard-line position against used CDs. CEMA president Russ Bach was the industry's most blustery spokesperson on the issue, but now it's clear that his tough talk was just talk: faced with a couple of lawsuits, and without a legal, moral, or philosophical leg to stand on, CEMA has unilaterally turned tail and run, destroying what was supposed to be a united industry front.
It's difficult to refute the industry's arguments against used CD sales, mostly because it doesn't really have any ("New and used CD sales simply don't mix," wrote Bach last month). Mostly the labels didn't want consumers to have the opportunity to avoid paying their cartel prices. Rather than consider lowering them, CEMA, which distributes Capitol records and a host of smaller labels, led the industry's campaign to take advertising co-op dollars away from stores that retail both new and used products. The LA-based chain Wherehouse and an alliance of independent outlets promptly instituted suits. Spice was added to the debate when country superstar cum corporate toady Garth Brooks said he didn't want his new album In Pieces to be sold in stores that handle used CDs. (Though Brooks is known for his cheap concert tickets, he's also allowed his last two albums to lead industry price hikes.) But now CEMA will halt the restrictions on co-op ads; the rest of the industry is expected to follow suit; and, to make the surrender complete, In Pieces will be sold to any store that wants it. Bach made the decision without telling Brooks. "I was going to get sued personally," says Brooks in the same issue of Billboard, trying to save face. "I think they did me a favor."
Censorship at Musicland?
Local Musicland stores confirm a report in Rolling Stone that the company has circulated a list of albums that store managers can sticker with "parental advisory" warnings and refuse to sell to kids under 18. Musicland's corporate spokesperson would only say that the program is voluntary and that the company was "burned" by the Rolling Stone article. Ironically enough, while several local store managers said they had the list (though some weren't aware of it), the only store that's been restricting the albums is the one downtown, at 61 E. Randolph. You'd think the downtown store would have a more sophisticated approach to the issue than, say, the Brickyard Mall store. But exactly the opposite is the case: while a downtown employee says store policy is to call attention to restricted albums even when adults are buying them, Brickyard Mall store manager Paul Ruffino said he hadn't seen the list and wouldn't use it anyway. "That's not what those stickers are for," he said. "There's no law against selling those albums. They just mean that parents should be advised. The whole thing reeks of censorship."
Coyote Supplies Meat
Red Red Meat, fresh from a searing show at Lounge Ax last week, plays free tonight as the highlight of the music portion of this year's Around the Coyote festival. At Lounge Ax the band members, all seated, hosted a number of guest musicians; one highlight was a reading of the Stones' "Jig-Saw Puzzle" marked by Glenn Girard's hellacious slide guitar, Brian Deck's cacophonous drumming, and guest vocal by Gina McLaughlin. The festival's music lineup was put together ("curated" is the word they use Around the Coyote) by former Zoo Records A and R rep Jim Powers, who now runs his own label, Minty Fresh. The lineup has changed since the ATC program was printed, so it's probably worth setting out here. Shows start at 7:30 each night, with each band playing on the half hour, except where noted. Thursday: Mint Aundry, Brit songstress Cath Carroll, a reconfigured Stump the Host now d/b/a Dolly Varden, and Cherry Rodriguez. Friday: Scissor Girls, Karen Hellyer with Karen Lee-Larson, Every Good Boy, Uptighty, Red Red Meat (midnight). Saturday: Legendary Jim Ruiz Band, Chisel, Chicago Samba School, Veruca Salt. The shows are all at Czar Bar, 1814 W. Division; there's no cover, although you can make a $2 donation that will go to a variety of Wicker Park charities.
The Illinois Entertainer's Chicago Musician Awards, which were supposed to take place this month at Metro, have been put off until early next year. The good news, says the Entertainer's Perry Bax, is that the Entertainer, Metro, and WXRT have agreed to a broader and bigger event than in past years, when the Entertainer has given out awards between shows. The first awards, in 1991, were a little shaky, but the 1992 awards came off not half bad, with little embarrassment for nominees or winners. The feeling among the show's principals, however, was that a haphazardly organized show would be a bad idea in this uncharacteristically fecund year for Chicago rock, not to mention that a September date would conflict with the touring schedules of some of the more prominent local bands. Planned now is a more multifaceted affair, with a host and performers on several stages; it should happen sometime in January or February.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jon Randolph.