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Concert Credo: Take a Break, Make a Buck

POP EYE

November 07, 1993|Bruce Haring

With commercials now common at movie theaters and on home video cassettes, when is the ad blitz going to invade the world of pop concerts?

Soon--at least if Northridge-based entrepreneur Evan Saxon has his way.

Saxon's ESP Productions wants to sell the intermission time at concerts to hawk records.

Here's how it would work: Record companies would pay Saxon to play selected records over the sound system, along with a plug for a local record chain. In return for allowing the ads to be played, the headliners would get their albums spotlighted in the stores.

The concept got a trial run earlier this year during the Anthrax/White Zombie tour--and the reports from the stores and from Anthrax's management were both positive.

But not all artists feel that way.

"I don't like it," KISS singer-guitarist Paul Stanley told Pop Eye. "I'm more concerned with my fans than I am with me . . . and if I were in their shoes I'd probably feel had.

"(Intermission music) is real important, because it sets a mood and a tone before your show, and that's something we've always put a lot of thought into. To suddenly add business into that equation, it pollutes the water."

Alex Hodges, vice president and head of the concert booking department for the Nederlander Organization, has mixed feelings.

On one hand, he's concerned that artists would find the advertised music "one more encroachment into the entertainment of the evening."

But he asks, "What do people do between sets? Go and buy sodas and popcorn. I think that break may ultimately be looked upon by people in the industry as an appropriate avenue for exposing some new music."

How far could this commercial assault go?

Saxon insists that he only plans to use the time to sell music, but industry observers are already asking whether they'll someday hear a spot for American Airlines at a Guns N' Roses show or a plug for Nike at an En Vogue concert.

*

NO GUNS PLEASE: In the wake of radio station KACE-FM's decision to drop violent music, Rap Sheet, a 100,000 circulation, Venice-based newspaper covering the hip-hop scene, has notified the record industry that it is banning "graphic illustrations of violence or weapons" in editorial copy and will not accept ads with similar content.

"I struggled with it a long time," says editor-in-chief Darryl James. "But at some point you have to put your foot down and say no more."

James has contacted his major competitors, Vibe, Rap Pages and the Source, for support.

Vibe publisher John Rollins told Pop Eye that he has no plans to change his magazine's policy. "I'm sympathetic to (Rap Sheet's) desires and interests," he said. "But ultimately we would like to let the marketplace decide."

One label, at least, seems to be sensitive to the issue. Virgin Records is issuing a forthcoming video for artist Shyheim in both "guns" and "no guns" versions. Ironically, Shyheim's "Buck Wylin' " has an anti-violence message.

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