Retail Steaming Over Alanis' Starbucks Deal

Music merchants dismayed over six-week exclusive.

Traditional music retailers say they are dismayed that Alanis Morissette's new acoustic version of "Jagged Little Pill" (Maverick) will be sold exclusively at Starbucks for a six-week window before it is released to other U.S. merchants.

While Maverick CEO Guy Oseary told Billboard last week, "I think regular retail will understand it's a one-off with Starbucks," retailers wonder if he understands that their definition of "one-off" differs from his.

"I agree that we will treat this as a one-off -- because this album is the one off our shelves," says Jerry Kamiler, divisional merchandise manager for music at Albany, N.Y.-based Trans World Entertainment. Trans World will not be carrying the new version of "Jagged Little Pill," nor will it continue to stock the original, according to Kamiler.

Most independent merchants are still pondering how they will react to the Morissette/Starbucks exclusive. But they already know they don't like it.

John Kunz, owner of Austin-based Waterloo Records, wonders why Maverick didn't follow the model of Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company." For that project, Starbucks helped Concord Records pay for the making of the album, but the coffee merchant received it at the same time other retailers did. "I think [Maverick] would have been a lot smarter to go everywhere and still be in 5,000 Starbucks," Kunz says.

"The Ray Charles model is the right model," says Joe Nardone Jr., VP of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based Gallery of Sound, which has 11 stores. The Morissette model "puts you in hostile territory," he continues. "Most indie retailers will carry the album but will probably bury it."


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