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Power Players

No. 63
Tifanie Van Laar

Senior Buyer of Music
Walmart
Twitter: @TifanieLee
Still Low Prices. Every Day…

Tifanie Van Laar is the senior buyer overseeing music at Walmart, the second-largest music retailer in the United States with an estimated 10.7% market share of recorded-music revenue in 2010, down 12.5% from the prior year. Even though iTunes now commands triple the market share of Walmart, the mass merchant appears to have retained as much clout over wholesale pricing as it did when it was the top U.S. music retailer. When the retailer pushed for lower wholesale pricing on hit albums, the majors eventually gave in. The move proved to be fortuitous, as deeply discounted $5 catalog CDs helped lift U.S. album unit sales by 1.4% in 2011, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the first unit sales gain since 2004. Walmart's continued leverage on pricing stems from its heavy store traffic, which in the States alone totals about 140 million shoppers every week. That huge tally explains why having an album displayed in a Walmart endcap was ranked the fifth-most-valuable promotional platform in Billboard's 2011 Maximum Exposure list-and the source of Van Laar's clout.

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