Keith answers readers' questions on the k.d. lang, Rascal Flatts, Gloria Trevi and more!
K.D. LONG GONE
Where has k.d. lang gone? I know she's been touring but she hasn't had an album of new material in a number of years now. Is she recording at all?
San Mateo, Calif.
You've got perfect timing.
k.d. lang just announced this week  that her new album, the self-produced "Watershed," will be released on Feb. 5, 2008 in the U.S. It's her first album of newly written material since 2000's "Invincible Summer." Since then, she's released a live set (2001's "Live By Request") a duets album with Tony Bennett (2002's "A Wonderful World") and a standards set (2004's "Hymns of the 49th Parallel").
I'm a big fan of your column and I've always wanted to ask you about Mexican recording artist Gloria Trevi.
Controversial even by Courtney Love standards, Ms. Trevi has been dubbed everything from rockera to sexpot to tabloid fixture since she first broke into the Latin music scene in the early 90's. Her personal life and career have undergone more makeovers than Madonna's, yet still, throughout six studio albums and a live set released last year by Univision Records, "La Trevi" has remained an aggressive and provocative singer-songwriter -- even after her four-year-plus stint in jail.
With her seventh studio effort, "Una Rosa Blu" having recently been released, I wonder: How many albums has Trevi actually sold in the U.S. in the SoundScan era?
Thanks for your time!
Woodland Hills, Calif.
The 15 Gloria Trevi albums that SoundScan has in its tracking system have sold a combined total of 287,000 since 1991. The biggest seller of the bunch is 2004's "Como Nace El Universo," which has moved 62,000. That album peaked at No. 4 on the Top Latin Albums chart.
Her newest set, "Una Rosa Blu," bowed at No. 9 on the Top Latin Albums chart this week, shifting 5,000.
As expected, the new Rascal Flatts album, "Still Feels Good," vaulted from the bottom to the top of the Top Country Albums chart recently. The album charted prior to its release date due to street date violations.
This is obviously not the first time an album has done this on the Top Country Albums chart or any other Billboard albums chart. My question is whether a record label has any recourse against those merchants that are selling these CDs before the release date.
I assume Billboard could identify which merchants are doing this by the source of the chart data. Are release dates legally binding or simply a courtesy to the record labels?
Look forward to hearing from you and reading your column weekly!
New York, N.Y.
I figured the best person to respond to your question is Geoff Mayfield, Billboard's Director of Charts and Senior Analyst. Here is his response:
There is recourse that labels can take, but if the offense is committed by an independent store, the onus is on the one-stop who sold the product to that store more than it is on the retailer. These violations also take place inadvertently at department stores, where store staff are not as aware of street dates as the crew you would find in a traditional music store.
To be clear, Billboard does not have access to specific account information. Each retailer's sales are shielded from Billboard. Further, there is a confidentiality agreement in place between Nielsen SoundScan and the retailers who report their sales, which would forbid SoundScan from ratting out specific stores.
Distributors usually find out about street-date offenses the same way they did long before Nielsen SoundScan came on line: complaints from competitors who have stores near the offending retailers. If a store sees that a nearby competitor has broken street date, they will typically fax or email a receipt to the distributor and get permission to also put that title on its shelves at that particular location.
Sales prior to street date violate trading terms but are not violations of law. While music and DVDs have street dates on Tuesdays, some hotly anticipated models of athletic shoes not only have a street date, but a specific time of day when stores are to unveil them.
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