Hear & Now
This week on the music beat
— SUNDAY BEST? When Eminem’s label, Interscope, put The Eminem Show on sale on Sunday, May 26, it broke the sacrosanct tradition of Tuesday release dates. Between Sunday and Tuesday, Show sold 284,500 copies and entered Billboard’s chart at No. 1 — mighty respectable, if less than the million units it was projected to sell in one week. That estimate proved accurate: Second-week sales hit 1.3 million. Interscope’s move was sparked by Internet bootlegging — Show’s content and artwork were available weeks before the CD. But don’t expect early drops to become a trend. ”The customer really anticipates that Tuesday street date,” says Musicland exec Ron Baime. On the label side, many execs are mum. But Ron Gillyard, a senior VP with J Records, sees Interscope’s action — which had some retailers griping that they lost money when forced to change ad schedules — as mere desperation: ”I hope it never happens [to us]. You’re given lemons and you make lemonade.” Meanwhile, rap mogul Russell Simmons (whose onetime label, Def Jam, pushed up the release of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint and the R. Kelly/Jay-Z team-up, The Best of Both Worlds, by one week because of bootlegging) agrees that bum-rushing release dates probably won’t become standard practice: ”I don’t think Def Jam is looking to do that, even though bootlegging is a big trend. My God, it’s so big. How can we stop it?”
— UNBORN IDENTITY Ex-Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and the Zack de la Rocha-less Rage Against the Machine have yet to determine a name for themselves. How about Rage Against the Internet, where the demos for the supergroup’s hotly anticipated album recently showed up? The 13 tunes are being avidly downloaded and have been receiving some radio play. And interest is all the more intense since the band (which was to play Ozzfest) has already broken up. The Rick Rubin-produced CD will hopefully be out by year’s end. Says a rep for Epic Records: ”In a perfect world, they’d come up with a name today, and we’d put the album out in the fall.” No word on whether it’ll be released on a Sunday.
The Best of Both Worlds (Music - R. Kelly)