Target to distribute
exclusive series of music
Feb 1, 2007 5:00pm ET
By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Target Corp (TGT.N:
on Thursday said it will release exclusive CDs by artists
like Kenny Loggins and David Cassidy in the latest example
of stars "of a certain age" bypassing music labels
to partner directly with retailers.
Target on Thursday said it partnered with an independent
start-up music label, 180 Music, to release 15 adult contemporary
CDs in all 1,449 stores on Feb. 27 for $9.99 each. Similar
releases are set to follow, according to 180 Music founder
and chief executive officer Jim Brandmeier.
Other store operators like Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O:
have made a splash in the music business by releasing exclusive
content under its Hear Music venture, while Wal-Mart Stores
Inc. (WMT.N: Quote, Profile
recently reached exclusive distribution deals with music icons
like The Eagles and Garth Brooks.
Rock duo Hall & Oates also recently moved to
release an independently-produced holiday CD exclusive to
music retailer Trans World Entertainment Corp (TWMC.O: Quote, Profile
which controls chains like Sam Goody and Strawberries Music.
"A lot of legendary adult artists have been
ignored and the adult audience has been ignored as well, so
we're going to put those two things together for artists to
express themselves," Brandmeier said, adding that Target
plans only to release the series in physical form and not
make it available digitally.
Included in the first 15 CDs to be released at
Target are new albums by Loggins and Cassidy as well as a
Phil Ramone-produced CD with new songs by legends like Carole
King, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach, Kris Kristofferson, Willie
Nelson, Richard Marx and others.
"Through 180 Music we are offering our guests
Target exclusive one-of-a-kind albums that are sure to have
something for everyone," said Darrell Tucker, vice president,
Many of the major record labels have been struggling
with an industrywide CD sales decline, forcing them to contract
and slash many jobs in marketing and promotion. Various artists
have also been dropped by labels as their sales have slowed
to where the labels can no longer support them profitably.
While the growth of digital music sales on services
like Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile
iTunes has been the one industry bright spot, it still is
not enough to offset the drop in physical CD sales. What's
more, the Internet in certain ways has shifted the focus away
from major labels, by making it easier for artists to sell
directly to their fans without any middlemen.
For example, various artists have broken records
on social networking sites like News Corp's (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile
Going with an independent label or a nontraditional
distribution deal with a retailer can sometimes be more lucrative
for an artist than a record deal, offering a chance to reap
a bigger share of record sales than the standard $1 to $2
per album, industry experts said.
Brandmeier of 180 would not disclose terms of the
artist deals, but said they were more flexible than standard
label deals, which often require multiple album commitments.
"Artists get more freedom. It's a change from
the regular business model. We don't want to tie people down,"
To be sure, many of the major labels are reexamining
the way they do business to address changes in the marketplace,
their relationship with artists and brands and retailers.
"For our survival and success, we need to
get familiar with all the ancillary revenue streams,"
said David Ring, senior vice president business affairs and
development for Vivendi's (VIV.PA: Quote, Profile
Universal Music Group, the No. 1 music company.
© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.