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Eagles' Deal Ruffles Feathers

Some music retailers are protesting the band's decision to sell its new single exclusively through the Best Buy chain for 30 days.

June 11, 2003|Jeff Leeds | Times Staff Writer

Independent record stores say they're falling through a hole in the Eagles' new marketing strategy.

The Coalition of Independent Music Stores sent hundreds of music executives an open letter asking the band and co-founder Don Henley to reconsider a plan to sell their new single, "Hole in the World," exclusively through the Best Buy chain for 30 days.

The retailers criticized the deal as running counter to Henley's outspoken stance against the tactics used by powerful radio conglomerates and major record corporations.

"This seems like a serious compromise in principles," said the letter from more than 50 store owners and Don VanCleave, president of the Birmingham, Ala.-based coalition.

"How is it that you, Don, can rail against the consolidation of power in the radio industry, and amongst large record labels, and at the same time make a conscious decision to stop anyone except the biggest of the big guys from carrying your single/DVD?"

Irving Azoff, the band's longtime manager, did not respond to requests for comment. In an e-mail to the retailers, he said the band needed Best Buy's promotional power to substitute for the backing of a major label.

Azoff also said he did not see the big-box chain as "an evil corporate entity."

Best Buy "committed massive marketing clout and sums of money to promote 'Hole in the World' and set it up so stores like yours can benefit from sales after [the chain] has marketed it to the public," Azoff wrote. "You see, fans don't just show up and buy it."

Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy Co. began selling the single and an accompanying DVD at its Best Buy electronics stores Tuesday.

Starting next week, the recording will be available at its Sam Goody stores.

Independent retailers contend that such exclusivity deals are bolstering the clout of mass merchants at the expense of mom-and-pop operations.

In the past, the coalition has protested similar deals, such as one two years ago, when rock band U2 offered Best Buy an exclusive window to sell a DVD.

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