A dispute that has kept Shakira's top-selling new album, "Fijación Oral, Vol. 1" (Epic), out of most Ritmo Latino stores has been resolved with a handshake and a smile -- and the recording back o

A dispute that has kept Shakira's top-selling new album, "Fijación Oral, Vol. 1" (Epic), out of most Ritmo Latino stores has been resolved with a handshake and a smile -- and the recording back on store shelves.

Ritmo, the United States' largest Latin retail music chain, was upset that the "Fijación Oral" promotion schedule didn't include an in-store appearance at any of the company's 42 stores. What Sony BMG Norte execs called a "scheduling conflict" was considered a cultural slap by Ritmo president David Massry. Instead of selling the album, Ritmo employees handed out flyers that said the Colombian singer and her label didn't support the Latin community.

Now Shakira has agreed to a Ritmo appearance in the fall.
Sources close to the singer defended her dedication to her Latin fan base, noting that the singer released the follow-up to her crossover album, "Laundry Service," in Spanish. Shakira also had an in-store with a Latin account in Puerto Rico, and is promoting heavily throughout Latin America and Spain.

"The scheduling conflict . . . did not involve Shakira, whose label is responsible for scheduling decisions," read part of a joint statement from the two companies, issued June 13. "Sony BMG Norte and Ritmo Latino look forward to continuing their long-standing relationship."

Even without Ritmo's support, "Fijación Oral" more than doubled the first-week sales record for a Spanish-language album in the United States, scanning nearly 160,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart and No. 4 on The Billboard 200.

"It's a testament to the force of the Hispanic consumer in the U.S. marketplace," says Ceci Kurzman, Shakira's manager.

Latin pop has seen its fortunes decline, as reggaetón and regional Mexican music have dominated Latin music sales for the past year. Shakira's strong sales indicate that the appetite for pop remains strong, given the right artist and promotion. "Fijación Oral" is the fastest-selling Shakira album ever, says Luana Pagani, senior VP of Latin global marketing for Sony BMG Norte. According to Epic, the album is No. 1 in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Central America, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile; it debuted at No. 2 in Germany and No. 3 in Austria and Switzerland.

Massry says he expects to receive a shipment of "Fijación Oral 1" by the June 18 weekend. "It's a shame I lost the first two weeks of sale," Massry says. "But we're happy everything is resolved."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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