The National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers annual convention kicked off in fine fashion in San Francisco on May 3 with a WEA showcase featuring Alanis Morissette, a sign that NARM still has star power as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Also featured in the showcase were Roadrunner's Parlor Mob, Ryko Distribution's Will Hoge, Atlantic's Carolina Liar and Bad Boy's Janelle Monae.

Earlier in the evening, after the Rhino sponsored welcome reception, Wind-up's head of sales Derek Graham, herded members of the Music Monitor Network onto a shuttle bus to Tommy Toy's restaurant, where in the back room People In Planes performed an acoustic set in anticipation of the June 24 release of its next album, "Beyond the Horizon."

While at the dinner, Billboard received a Canadian education, as Tim Baker of the Music Monitor Network's newest member, Sunrise Records, held forth on a variety of topics. The 22-unit chain, with all of its stores based in southern Ontario, makes the coalition a North American network. Baker describes the chain as "pop culture stores." With mall stores in the 2,500-3,000 square foot range and superstores, like its outlet on Yonge Street in Toronto, measuring 12,000 square feet.

The Music Monitor Network, other retail coalitions, indie stores, Newbury Comics and Value Music are getting their due credit at the convention for pulling off the year's most positive music industry story to date, Record Store Day.