Move seen as retailiation for comments made at NARM.
The verbal slap that was paid back with a boycott is now serving as a rallying point for independent coalitions and Newbury Comics.
Scissor Sisters Jake Shears chided Trans World for their high pricing in August at the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers annual convention and now the chain is refusing to carry the bands new release, "Ta Dah!," due out Sept. 26 on Universal Motown Records.
The ruckus started at the NARM award night ceremony during a Scissor Sisters performance when co-lead singer Jake Shears chided Trans World for charging $19.98 for the Raconteurs “Broken Boy Soldiers” album, a price he found that day while shopping the chain’s FYE store in the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, Fla. At the time he offered a "little FYI for FYE," and then said CDs shouldn't cost $20 because customers won't buy them at that price.
Immediately after NARM, Trans World executives told Billboard that the copy of the Raconteurs album that Shears picked up was a “mistake.” That copy had been overlooked when the store restickered the album to reflect the sale pricing that title was receiving throughout the chain at that time. While Trans World charges prices on a market-by-market basis, chainwide that week the Raconteurs album was priced at an average of $11.39, Trans World executives said.
When it came time to talk about a Trans World buy-in on the second Scissor Sisters album title, “Ta Dah!,” Trans World asked Universal Records to support a program.
While the Scissor Sisters title is a part of the Universal Music Group JumpStart program—which provides a low wholesale cost but eliminates the paying out of cooperative advertising funds—UMG labels have discretionary advertising funds they can spend to support their albums, as long as it is applied to media that reaches the consumer or for in-store banners, lightboxes and windows.
According to sources, Universal was willing to provide advertising fund support for one of Trans World programs, but the chain wanted the label to buy into a much higher-priced program. Universal passed on that higher-priced opportunity and in return Trans World passed on taking in the album. Says one Trans World executive, “The band wrongly insulted us, but we were still willing to order the album, but they wouldn’t support it, so we passed.”
Universal Motown was unavailable for comment at press time.
Meanwhile, the coalitions are using the issue as rally point. In the weekly Coalition of Independent Music Stores chart, Don VanCleave thinks Trans World should “have a heart,” instead of refusing to carry the album.
“Bands are made up of musicians, not diplomats,” Van Cleave, who heads up the coalition, wrote. “Most musicians I know just can't be held accountable all of the time for comments, especially in mid rock.”
Consequently, CIMS has decided to give Scissor Sisters free program space in the fourth quarter to help the band out. The Music Monitor Network also is looking for ways to support the band, reports Michael Kurtz, which oversees the network.
Likewise Newbury Comics Mike Dreese also has asked his troops to step up to the plate for Scissor Sisters. He tells the staff to play the record in-store and to give the band “empty DVD windows for the next two weeks for free. “We're the king of boycotts,” Dreese tells Billboard. “I would be happy if [Trans World] was pissing on someone like the Rolling Stones,” who gave an exclusive live DVD to Best Buy in October 2003.
But this is different; Scissor Sisters is a developing artist. Besides, “we can't let the single most fun moment at NARM go unrewarded,” Dreese says.