Thursday, March 22, 2007

Capitol loses McCartney... now what?

When Billboard and several other news outlets reported that Paul McCartney is the first artist signed to Starbucks' Hear Music label, the fact that he was leaving Capitol was downplayed. Fox News actually led their story from the angle of Capitol losing one of their longest residents, for nearly 43 years, which is the more interesting story to me. Even when he moved to Columbia Records from 1979 to 1985, his recordings were still handled by EMI labels outside of the U.S. and Canada. Which begs the question: is this a worldwide deal or what?

My hope is that Hear Music will do a better job than Capitol of treating McCartney's back catalog with respect. The international reissues of his solo and Wings albums that appeared in the early '90s never did see a proper U.S. release. Capitol simply let the old versions remain in print, even as imports trickled into stores at reasonable prices. Even now, you could probably walk into a Virgin Megastore or an FYE and see multiple versions of the same McCartney album available for sale, if you're lucky enough to find anything other than McCartney, Band On The Run, a hits collection and his most recent album.

As for whether Paul will see increased sales from the deal, caustic music industry legend Bob Lefsetz doesn't seem to think so. Or, as he puts it with typical bluntness, "who cares?" I'm a little puzzled as to why Lefsetz speaks of McCartney not being able to get on top 40 radio, or not being able to sell a million records and the Starbucks deal not being able to change that. Maybe he didn't see the report in This Is London that revealed a shrewd business reason for the deal, the same reason why McCartney is apparently putting off doing another tour for a while -- he is trying to protect his assets from his soon-to-be ex-wife!

Paul McCartney has a built-in audience, and no matter what entity he asks to promote and distribute his music, he will generate income. He has nothing to worry about when it comes to money. And though some may want to argue with me, I don't think he has anything to worry about in the area of artistry either. Little has changed in the past 8 years for McCartney's artistic statements and record sales. Starbucks will help him continue to do what he wants to do and hopefully keep more cash for himself, which is fine by me.

Yet, beyond the business ins and outs, being able to hear a new McCartney album only 2 years after the last one is, to me, the most exciting news of all!

1 comment:

shecanfilmit said...

I was going to suggest you blog about this but you did it before I could open my mouth.