Scissor Sisters state the obvious, and Ta-Dah! Your local record store has banned them for it

File under ‘You have got to be kidding me’: Trans World Entertainment, which owns retail music chains For Your Entertainment, Sam Goody, Strawberries, Wherehouse, Specs and Coconuts, is refusing to carry the Scissor Sisters’ new album, Ta-Dah (which is really freaking good, btw), because of comments singer Jake Shears made at the National Association of Music Retailers convention that CD prices were too high.

Ta-Dah

According to Trans World President and CEO Jim Litwak, his company was just expressing its displeasure at Shears’ comments, which he said were untrue and unfair. And furthermore, he said the whole situation could’ve been avoided had the band bothered to pick up the phone and call him.

“Mr. Shears said that he tried to buy a Raconteurs album but didn’t because it was too expensive,” Litwak told MTV News. “But he didn’t bring it up to register, because if he did, he would’ve seen that the CD was on sale.

“So Mr. Shears made an incorrect statement at a convention instead of reaching out to us, to discuss our pricing,” Litwak continued. “We decided that it would’ve been nice to get an apology from them, so we reached out to their distribution company [Universal Music Group Distribution] to let them know we were displeased, and we never heard back from them. So we made the decision not to carry the band’s new release.”

In fairness to Trans World, Jake should have taken up this issue with the band’s label, Universal, which decides the suggested retail price for their albums. This is what Tom Petty did back in the day with his album Hard Promises when he found out that his then-label MCA was going to charge a full dollar more for his record than every other record on the market. He refused to turn the album in until the label relented, which they ultimately did. Score one for the common man.

However, in fairness to Jake, CD’s are way, way, WAY too expensive. The TWE guy says the Raconteurs album was on sale, but no matter how they try to spin it, $14.99 (the site’s “sale” price for Now 22) isn’t a bargain; it’s extortion. Not only that, the Raconteurs’ LP is selling on FYE’s web site for $19.99, so for all that TWE guy knows, Jake was referring to purchasing the vinyl, not the CD, in which case Shears was actually underquoting the price of the album, and TWE banned them for nothing. Either way, there is no reasonable explanation for the SRP on an album to be $18.99. That’s about five bucks too high. Still, there’s a part of me that would love to see them try to cross the $20 barrier, just because the bloodshed would be so much fun to watch.

In the early ‘90s, I was buying new releases for $9.88 at Newbury Comics in Boston (still the best, chain, ever). The cost of making CD’s hasn’t gone up since then – indeed, it has certainly gotten cheaper over the years – so why do the labels think they are justified in raising the markup on a product whose markup is already padded to the gills? It’s as if the entire music industry — labels, retailers, RIAA — has completely forgotten that we, their customers, decide how much, or how little, money they make at the end of the day. They would be wise not to continue pushing their luck.

What this calls for is a federal investigation into the price structures of the record labels, since someone could probably make a very convincing case for antitrust violations across the board. But so far, the federal government (no surprise) has stayed out of it, leaving it to be hammered out – or, hopefully, ignored – at the state level (New York and California have launched investigations in the last year). Ugh.

The message is clear, and it’s not pretty: keep your head down, your mouth shut, and pay up, sucker. Otherwise, we’ll crush you. Wow. So much for power to the people. Sounds eerily like the backdrop to the Max Barry book “Jennifer Government” to me (a must-read, by the way).

Free the Scissor Sisters! Fight the power! We want Chilly Willy!

  

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