Is Best Buy the Clear Channel of music retailing, or are indie retailers just reeling from the taste of sour grapes?
According to press reports in Billboard and other sources, north county institution Lou's Records has joined four other independent west coast music retailers in a class action lawsuit against Best Buy. The suit, filed Aug. 6 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, alleges that the mega-retail chain violates U.S. antitrust laws, in addition to laws that cover loss leader selling (pricing things below cost).
The main point of contention is that Best Buy receives an additional 10 percent discount over other retailers, making it difficult if not impossible for stores like Lou's to compete on price point. In other words, major labels are cutting deals with Best Buy that they're not cutting with the indies because BB is such an influential seller. And if anyone needs help in the current music-buying downswing, it's definitely the indies.
The lawsuit alleges that this pricing policy is a method of eliminating competition. California has a law that's supposed to level the playing field for retailers, mandating that merchants price their wares at a minimum of 6 percent above cost. The lawsuit reportedly asks for treble damages and legal fees. Lou's has confirmed their participation in the lawsuit, but they referred all questions to their lawyers, who were unavailable for comment. A spokesman for Best Buy said, "In general, we don't comment on lawsuits that are pending."
Manager Lou Niles has announced that Rochelle, Rochelle-a band once considered by many to be among the best unsigned rock acts in America-is on an "extended hiatus."
"Just showing up, playing amazing [music] and having great demos is not enough these days," Niles said. "In the difficult environment that the music industry has become with declining sales and consolidations, it is absolutely imperative that all members of a team give and be able to give over a 110 percent commitment to making things happen. It has been clear for some time, and become more clear, that devoting 100 percent or better to the band is not possible for every member of the team; and thus, a decision has been made to move onto other things."
He did leave open the possibility of the band reuniting in the future, adding: "Whether this is permanent or temporary remains to be decided." As if that wasn't depressing enough, a week earlier someone broke into the car belonging to frontman Erik Berg and stole a guitar, a bass and a $1,200 amp. Rochelle, Rochelle won't fade away just quite yet-three songs will available soon on an Accident Prone compilation CD and music from the band will be in upcoming episodes of Longboard TV on Fuel.
Eve Selis and her band have just finished taping a video for the title track of their recent album on location around San Diego. The video for "Do You Know Me" was produced by Crystal Fambrini, best known for her stint as host of Planet X. "It was a four-day shoot," said Selis, "We shot on location at the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, a closed-off street downtown and [at] a local school." Though nothing is firmed up just yet, talks are ongoing to get the clip added to national music shows. "We just had a meeting with CMT and they said it'll be played, but we'll see," Selis said with an optimistic laugh. "We just hope it's not just aired once at two in the morning." This October, Selis and guitarist Marc Intravaia will head to the U.K. for a two-week tour.
Bobby Shaddox has exited indie group The Stereotypes. The amicable split was necessitated by Shaddox's increasing workload-he is part of countrified rockers Billy Midnight, has a solo pop project called Bobby Fantasy and is working with ex-Mother Hips guitarist Greg Loiacono. "You can only have so many women, and it's exactly the same being in too many bands," Shaddox joked, adding: "I don't want to hold the band back with my schedule. They've had to pass up gigs and so on, so the move is best for both of us." The change in lineup comes as The Stereotypes prepare to release their second album next month.
Love her or hate her, there will be no escaping Jewel this year. Her latest album, Intuition, is still on the charts and ranks as her highest chart placement to date. Beginning this fall, fans can also catch her as a recurring character on the new Rob Lowe television drama, The Lyon's Den. Jewel has signed on for three episodes where she will portray a competitive lawyer from the Department of Justice who just happens to be the former fiancée of Jack Turner, Lowe's character on the show. Naturally, they end up on opposing sides of a case (those familiar with Jewel's poetry shouldn't be surprised by such a cliché). But who knows-it couldn't be as bad as Ride with the Devil. You can watch the fun Sundays this fall on NBC.
Local singer songwriter Chuck Schiele will be hosting the first of a series of themed tribute nights on Aug. 29 at the Hard Rock Café in La Jolla. "Pettyfest" will feature a number of local performers tackling the music of Tom Petty, while the event itself will feature a tiki theme. On hand will be Sven-Erik Seaholm, Gregory Page, Clay Colton, Peter Bolland and others. In the U.K. mag Uncut, Bolland was recently given a rave four-star review for his latest album, Frame (notably, the current issue of Uncut has a two-star review of local acoustic kid Jason Mraz, describing his music as "gruesome"). According to Schiele, the next event will feature the music of Elvis Costello. 858-456-7625.