Bruce Springsteen’s latest greatest hits package showed up exclusively in Wal-Mart this week, and now the Boss is admitting the deal was “a mistake.” Wal-Mart has wretched labor practices at home and abroad, the Boss has always supported labor–that’s a pretty big “mistake. So what happened?
We were in the middle of doing a lot of things, it kind of came down and, really, we didn’t vet it the way we usually do. We just dropped the ball on it.. given its [Wal-Mart's] labor history, it was something that if we’d thought about it a little longer, we’d have done something different. It was a mistake. Our batting average is usually very good, but we missed that one. Fans will call you on that stuff, as it should be.
How you could not know in an instant Wal-Mart’s labor history? And maintaining a client’s ethos and ethical foundation/image by vetting deals is sort of important for the “team.”
I know these discussions happen online and elsewhere, and I don’t want to get bogged down in them, but let’s start with the premise that Bruce is already in Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has been 15% of our sales in recent years. It’s not a question of going into Wal-Mart; we’re there. They, and other retailers, are all looking for some way to differentiate themselves, and we try to accommodate each one.
Landau continues to juggle the ball he dropped:
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 making sure the record is well-presented in as many places as possible..
How exactly does an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart present the record in “as may places as possible”? According to entertainment attorney Helen Yu, who represents a number of platinum selling and Grammy-award winning artists:
Usually in an exclusive deal, the retailer buys a certain number of records up front, with no returns. It’s a guaranteed sale.
So Springsteen’s record label, his team and The Boss himself have managed to insure they will be paid, no matter what, whther the greatest hits package is actually bought by fans or not.
Wal-Mart, which opposes the Employee Free Choice Act has this to say about their employment record:
We are proud of the good jobs, benefits and career opportunities we provide to more than 1.4 million U.S. associates who choose to work at Wal-Mart and serve our customers every day.
Charles Cross, author of Backstreets: Springsteen, The Man and his Music told MSNBC:
Doing a deal with Wal-Mart goes against his principles that he has said he has stood for.
But then the music industry is just that, a business, and people are in it to make money. Even the Boss.