You’d think it would send chills up Wal-Mart executives’ collective spine to be told they’ve “pulled a page from now-defunct Tower Records playbook,” but nevertheless, that’s the kind of gimmickry going on with the big-box store’s exclusive distribution of the new AC/DC album, Black Ice. Hoping to follow up on their success with the Eagles’ Long Road Out of Eden, the megaretailer has gone even farther, creating a “store within a store” where customers can buy merch and, uh, play Rock Band.
Boston Herald scribe Jed Gottlieb, who drops three AC/DC references in his lede and uses the questionable and mildly obscene phrase “potent cash cow” to refer to the effort’s hopeful profitability, positions this as somehow opposed to “the heyday of record stores,” but of course, it’s not–anyone who frequents record stores is familiar with giant single-artist displays decorated with elaborately folded and stapled posters. It’s more notable in terms of Wal-Mart’s stated intention to reduce the amount of floorspace they devote to music. If this is a preview of what the megachain is going to do with its stores’ music sections, it points to an official stratification of album sales: smaller artists will now be officially banned from big-box distribution, and will have to develop their image before Wal-Mart will stock their product. But once they do, Wal-Mart will throw support behind them like they with any big brand, seeking to enhance their own image by playing up their association.
Oh, and by selling CDs for $12. That helps, too.
Wal-Mart and AC/DC agree: Moneytalks! [Boston Herald]