Uzoigwe further ingratiated himself with the crowd saying that although HE still buys more physical product then he downloads, "My kids would NEVER do that."
HITS’ Mark Pearson With All the News from Chicago
It’s off and running.

NARM officially got underway this morning with opening remarks from President Jim Donio, Board Chairman Sue Peterson of Target and a "keynote" panel of record industry executives.

Donio touted the fact that the convention had managed to maintain the same attendance from last year, posting some 1,200 people here at the Chicago Hilton. He spoke of the "troubling realities" in our business, citing the loss of Tower, Musicland and Capitol Records.

He also noted that, although much of the press coverage has been almost "giddy" in reporting our travails, he remains bullish on physical product. He talked of marrying physical with digital and pointed to new alliances between Circuit City and Napster as well as Best Buy and Rhapsody.

"If you choose to look," he said, "you'll find innovators." Donio also addressed a long-running NARM convention gripe concerning the flow of releases with too much emphasis being put on the 4th Quarter, a topic that would be reintroduced later during the panel discussion.

Sales on Q4 releases are down some 35% over the last three years, with the largest selling albums coming from releases outside of the holiday season. He closed by unveiling the new NARM tagline: "Advancing the Business of Music."

Sue Peterson, continuing as Board Chairman for the second consecutive year, spoke of the value of the Definitive 200 list that NARM promoted this year in an alliance with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and congratulated UMGD's Jim Urie for coming up with the idea. She called it the most compelling NARM-backed campaign since the "Give the Gift of Music" campaign of the '80s. She also announced two new board members in Napster's Chris Gorog and eMusic's David Pakman.

After a set from Warner Bros.' Peter Cincotti, Donio gave the Presidenital Award for Sustained Executive Achievement to Soul Train’s legendary Don Cornelius who gave a gracious, if rambling, acceptance speech.

The keynote panel moderated by Billboard's Scott McKenzie, featured AI2M's Richard Bengloff, Capitol Nashville's Mike Dungan, WEA's John Esposito, Universal Republic's Kim Garner, Sony BMG's Jordan Katz, RCA's Richard Sanders, WB's Diarmuid Quinn, UMGD's Urie, indie label Definitive Jux's Amaechi Uzoigwe and EMM's Ronn Werre.

When asked about the Q4 glut, Quinn defended the labels’ position saying that many artists drive the agenda… both as marketing tools in front of spring tours as well as ego-related needs to see a big burst of sales. Katz reiterated that most of the top sellers are released outside the holiday window and exhorted he industry to keep a more even flow throughout the year on any given artist to give fans more opportunities to buy product on the same act. To that end, he said we should be releasing more music on any given artist in many configurations, including physical singles.

The topic turned to in-store appearances and whether or not tours could slow down a bit to make artists more available for promotional purposes. Quinn noted that it takes about $10k a week to keep a tour on the road and slowing down could bankrupt them.

Uzoigwe then outraged the audience, slamming retailers saying that their stores were "just not where kids go to get music anymore," and saying that if he would have his band do an appearance outside of the tour it would more likely be at a skate park than a retail store. Urie took him to task, arguing that he was missing other opportunities to sell music by not being in the store and someone shouted from the audience: "Where are they going to get the record at the skate park?"

Of course there was talk of what retailers needed to do to make their stores more alluring. Dungan got a huge round of applause when he offered: "We need to get back to music stores being a communal community experience." Garner then noted that experience has moved on-line with Werre saying that music had to be available to consumers any way they wanted it and that these two things were not mutually exclusive.

Uzoigwe further ingratiated himself with the crowd saying that although HE still buys more physical product then he downloads, "My kids would NEVER do that." Quinn schooled the room to make their stores "a better entertainment experience," while many retailers sitting near me muttered that's what they do. Quinn also suggested: "If you can't sell them a CD, sell them something else."

On the shrinking footprint of music in many stores, Werre pointed out that the stores that carried deeper sku's, like the indies and Virgin, had better comps. Esposito backed that thought saying that an NPD survey noted that one of the biggest reasons that people buy less music was because there are less places to buy music: "It's a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Posthumous release looks massive. (7/13a)
A "Moon" shot. (7/10a)
Is a Best New Artist nom in the cards for acclaimed writer/artist? (7/13a)
The gradual ascent of a gifted, prolific artist. (7/13a)
IGA is on a roll. (7/10a)
Would you like some Swiss cheese with your nachos?
Oh, sorry--we were just singing to ourselves.
Family is everything.
Are they coming for Kanye? Yes.

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