Show coverage from the 2018 Audio eXPO North America in Schaumburg IL has been posted in the forum. Check it out!
With CD sales declining at a steady pace (down 18.5% for 2017), Billboard reports that two major retailers are looking at making changes in marketing of the format. Best Buy is pulling CDs from the shelves by July 1 this year. Target, on the other hand, is pushing for consignment sales–in other words, the Target will still stock the CDs, but will not pay for them until they are scanned at the register (which, of course, the labels don’t like). The CD situation at both stores is quite dismal these days compared to the past but still, they are capable of selling very large quantities of the top selling titles. Target is already pushing to do this with DVDs, giving studios until Feb. 1 to decide if they are on board with the program or not.
In related news, the Warner Music Group extended buyout offers to 130 employees who manage “physical media” at the company, due to declining CD sales.
On the other hand, 2017 vinyl sales were up 9% over 2016. LPs accounted for 14% of all physical album sales, up from 11% in 2016, and accounted for 8.5% of all album sales, up from 6.5% in 2016. (All album sales include vinyl, CD, cassette and downloads.)
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Granted it’s a bit of a stretch, but let’s run with a Winter-themed tune today. It’s cold, it’s snowing…so why not? This is a track originally recorded by Felice Taylor in 1967 called “It May Be Winter Outside (But In My Heart, It’s Spring).” The group Love Unlimited redid the tune in 1973. From the long song title, you may have guessed the tune’s composer–Barry White. White had recorded a handful of albums for A&M back in the day, and Love Unlimited was his “girl group” that he also produced for, backed by the Love Unlimited Orchestra (which would have a Billboard #1 instrumental hit with “Love’s Theme”). White of course had plenty of hits on his own.
We are saddened to report the passing of legendary audio engineer Rudy Van Gelder. A&M fans remember him as the man who engineered the A&M/CTi albums for producer Creed Taylor. In the 50s and 60s, he engineered many well known and highly regarded jazz albums for labels such as Prestige, Blue Note, Impulse and others.
Gelder is pictured here with Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion (right).
Another musical legend has left us today–Prince, the colorful and sometimes controversial recording artist, composer, singer and guitarist passed away earlier today. He had recently cancelled a concert appearance and had other health incidents in recent days. He was 57.
Born Prince Rogers Nelson, he grew up in a broken home in Minneapolis, named after his father’s stage name of Prince Rogers. His outlet was music. A manager convinced Warner Brothers to sign his single-man act, and he debut with the innocuous single “Soft and Wet,” from his For You album.
He would continue to build up a following in the next few years with such albums as 1999, Controversy, and the groundbreaking Dirty Mind, culminating in his chart-topping album and singles that came from the Purple Rain movie, which he starred in and wrote the music for.
Purple Rain also publicized the growing number of acts in his musical family. The Time grew out of a local Minneapolis band called Flyte Tyme, which Prince renamed The Time and brought fame to Morris Day, and the future powerhouse production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who would produce a handful of A&M artists over the years, and rejuvenate Janet Jackson’s career to propel her to the top of the charts.
Other spinoffs include Vanity 6, Madhouse, The Family and Apollonia 6. Artists who went on to make their own albums include Eric Leeds (saxophonist), Andre Cymone (original guitarist with The Revolution), Jesse Johnson (A&M recording artist and former guitarist with The Time), and countless others. He also penned many hits that others would record, including “I Feel For You” (Chaka Khan), “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Sinead O’Connor) and “Manic Monday” (The Bangles).
Prince would make two other films, and would again gain notoriety when, over a contract dispute with Warner Brothers, changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. In 2000, the contract having expired, he reverted to Prince.
While there were a few brief spells, he never stopped recording or performing. He has performed at the 2007 Super Bowl, and his most recent song “Baltimore” reached out to the recent violence in that city.
Prior to his death, he was working on a memoir entitled “The Beautiful Ones,” that was to be published in the fall of 2017. His last album was the exclusive Tidal release HitNRun 2.
Above: Mourners line Audubon Dr. outside of Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN.
Prince billboards light up in the Detroit area.
We are saddened to report the passing of Leandro “Gato” Barbieri, who died today of pneumonia. He recorded several albums for A&M, but is perhaps best known as the composer of the steamy Marlon Brando film Last Tango in Paris.
Born 1932 in Rosario, Argentina, Barbieri came from a musical family, picking up the saxophone when he was a teenager. His rushing between gigs with his saxophone earned him the nickname “El Gato (The Cat),” which stuck with him throughout his career.
In addition to his infamous soundtrack, he recorded about 35 albums between 1967 and 1982. He had quit recording regularly in recent decades (save for 1997’s Que Pasa), but was recently appearing monthly at live gigs.
Barbieri is survived by his wife and son, and a sister in Buenos Aires.