[rumori] WP frontpg: They Sell Songs the Whole World Sings

From: stereogab ...... (stereogabAThotmail.com)
Date: Wed Feb 21 2001 - 07:24:00 PST

surprise, surprise...

They Sell Songs the Whole World Sings

By David Segal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 21, 2001; Page A01

TROY, Mich. -- The rock band Train usually plays to packed halls in big
cities, but three weeks ago the group performed on the
ground floor of a light-gray office building in this Detroit suburb. Just
300 people watched the show.

"We played four songs there," says Pat Monahan, the lead singer of Train.
"We want to make fans and friends of these people."

So do plenty of other acts. Hootie and the Blowfish have appeared there, as
have Barenaked Ladies and Amy Grant, all playing
brief shows before a tiny audience in an atrium. Other stars -- Garth
Brooks, 'N Sync -- have stopped by just to sign autographs
and say hello.

This unlikely hub of superstar traffic is the building that houses Handleman
Co., the recording industry's least-known powerhouse.
Handleman manages the in-store music departments of 4,000 retailers,
including every Kmart and more than one third of all
Wal-Marts. Last year, one out of every 10 albums sold in the United States
was bought at a Handleman-managed store, and for
certain popular titles, like Tim McGraw's "Greatest Hits," the ratio was
closer to one in four.

As pop's heavyweights converge today on Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards,
the clout of big music buyers like Handleman is
changing the way albums are acquired in this country. Mass merchants like
Kmart, along with electronics superstores such as Best
Buy, are gobbling up an ever larger share of the $14.3 billion U.S. music
market, offering CDs at bargain prices in the hopes of
driving traffic to cavernous stores filled with more expensive merchandise.

And that, say many in the business, is bad news for music lovers. The record
store was once a place to stumble across albums by
emerging artists and masterpieces by forgotten greats, or a place to get a
hot tip from a local maven. But a typical Wal-Mart carries
roughly 4,000 titles, a minuscule fraction of the more than quarter-million
CD and cassette offerings on the market. Specialty
chains, like Tower Records -- which typically carry 20 times the inventory
of Wal-Mart -- are steadily losing market share, and
many independent retailers say they are struggling.

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