Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not So Fast, Springsteen!

In an interview appearing in today's New York Times, Bruce Springsteen says "it was a mistake" to release a greatest hits package exclusively through Wal-Mart.

Not so fast, Mr. Bossman.

A friend and I were talking about it, and he said: "He's playing career coyote - he woke up with Wal-Mart, now he wants to chew his arm off."

Problem with that analogy is, you usually don't go home with the ugly girl (or guy) at the party unless you're drunk or desperate. Bruce isn't Keith Richards. And he's not desperate.

At last night's Pollstar Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown L.A., they were reading off the nominees for Personal Manager of the Year. The names weren't a surprise, and you could make an argument for any of them: Bill Silva, Coran Capshaw, Irving Azoff, Jared Paul, John Silva, Jon Landau and Paul Korzilius. I turned to my wife and said, "I'd go with Landau... Who would have thought Springsteen could get any bigger than he already was?"

Think about it, not only does he release another great album and go on another blockbuster tour, but he headlines the Super Bowl and releases a bargain-priced $10 hits album in an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart to correspond with the performance. Two moves that only further cement Springsteen's status as quintessential Americana.

But, fans argue, Wal-Mart's labor history doesn't jive with Bruce's ideologies. Please! This is a guy who signed a seven-album, $110 million deal with Sony Music. If he didn't stop to think about how many employees would be losing their jobs down the road while he collected more interest on his millions than they'd make in a decade, are we really supposed to believe that he's that worried about the unions?

I'm not saying the man has no soul. Quite the contrary, all he'd need to say to satisfy me is: "My fans shop at Wal-Mart, and we're giving them the value they deserve in today's hardened economy." Which is, more or less, what Landau almost said in an interview with Billboard: "We’re not doing any advertising for Wal-Mart. We haven’t endorsed Wal-Mart or anybody else. We’re letting Sony do its job."

And after cashing the check for $110 million, they better.

"We didn't vet it the way we usually do," Springsteen said of the decision in the Times article, "we dropped the ball on it."

Sorry, but I don't believe, at this stage in his career, that the Boss and his handlers are glossing over details like a Super Bowl performance and a Wal-Mart exclusive haphazardly. There's a plan, and the plan was executed. Very well, at that. What they didn't "vet," was the reaction from an internet community that, while vocal, doesn't speak for the vast majority of Springsteen fans.

This is the music business. Springsteen and his camp have made a number of exceptional business moves. Now that one or two aren't particularly popular, they're trying to backpedal.

If Bruce really wants a do-over, giving the $110 million back to Sony Music might be a good place to start.

Talk is cheap, that deal wasn't.

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Click here for a review of Bruce Springsteen's new studio album, Working On A Dream.

1 comment:

Adam Bernard said...

I love when artists suddenly do a 180 like that. Bruce should be happy that at his age not only does he still have legions of fans that are willing to run out and buy his work, but he also has the country's largest retailer of CDs in his corner. Bruce needs Wal-Mart to sell as many CDs as he possibly can. Wal-Mart can survive just fine without Bruce.

That being said, the dude can still make some great music.