This week on the music beat: February 6, 1998

A Fan’s Notes
Novelist Elmore Leonard, master of the breezy hard-boiled thriller (Get Shorty, Cuba Libre), likes his music as blunt as his prose. The 72-year-old scribe promises his forthcoming novel, Be Cool — the sequel to Get Shorty — will devote some ink to one of his favorite rock acts: Aerosmith. Turns out Leonard bonded with the band after catching a show last fall and inviting them back to his Michigan home, where they spent the afternoon chatting in his backyard. Writer and rockers got on so famously that Leonard told them that he’d like to work Aerosmith into his next book, to which the group collectively responded, “Great!” Says Leonard: “I came late to rock & roll, but I’ve always liked Aerosmith, and I really enjoyed talking to them. The idea is, if there’s a movie, maybe they’ll be in that, too.” Will the band contribute a song to the nascent film, as has been rumored? “It’s a little early to talk about that,” says Leonard. “I’m only halfway finished writing the book!”

Crystal Method
The Artist (that’s Prince‘s current appellation of choice, in case you haven’t heard) is going underground. Sort of. In an effort to maximize profits, the little autocrat will utilize an unusual marketing strategy to sell his upcoming album, a three-disc set called Crystal Ball. The album — which the Artist says will not be manufactured until 100,000 people have preordered it by calling 800-NEW-FUNK — will be sold by mail and will be available at retail exclusively at Best Buy; the tentative release date is March 1. The Best Buy deal was hammered out by the chain’s VP of marketing, Gary Arnold, and the Artist’s lawyer and business partner, L. Londell McMillan. The latter crows that the strategy represents “a new frontier” that will eliminate nearly all of the costs associated with major-label distribution and allow the Artist to release his music on his own timetable. But why go with Best Buy, and not, say, Tower? “I guess it helps that we’re based in Minnesota,” says company spokesperson Laurie Bauer. Ah, provincialism.