Retailers: Chris Brown Album 'Overstocked'
By Ed Christman, N.Y.
Chris Brown's rant that U.S. music retailers are boycotting his new album "Grafitti," appears to be unfounded. Brown took to his Twitter account - which is now inactive - over the weekend to complain about the fulfillment and display of his album in a series of posts.
"im tired of this shit. major stores r blackballing my cd. not stockin the shelves and lying to costumers. what the fuck do i gotta do... ... yeah i said it and i aint retracting shit im not biting my tongue about shit else... the industry can kiss my ass," read messages posted.
He also noted specifically that he "JUST WAS AT WALMART IN Wallingford CT,844 north colony.. the didnt even have my album in the back... not on shelves, saw for myself."
A survey and store visits find that Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Trans World, Newbury Comics are all carrying the Brown record and sources say that his album received widespread distribution and promotion by his label, Jive Records, and his distributor, Sony Music Entertainment. Jive shipped over 400,000 units of "Graffiti," and also had it positioned in prime stores space at all key accounts, according to sources. In fact, sources suggest that Jive may have overshipped his record, as sales are slow.
"Not only am I carrying it, I am over carrying it, because it isn't selling," says the head of purchasing at one large chain. "I wish I could return it." He says the album's first week sales only reached 40% of expectations.
At 27-unit Newbury Comics, Carl Mello head of purchasing, echoes that sentiment. "We have it; it's not selling much."
He says the chain never even considered boycotting Brown - an accusation leveled by the artist on Twitter. Brown pleaded guilty to charges in connection with his attack of former girlfriend Rihanna in February, just before the Grammy Awards show. "We never considered not bringing it in," Mello says. "If we stopped bringing in records from every unsavory character that puts out an album, there would be tumbleweed floating around our stores."
When ordering the record, Mello says he took into account Brown's altercation with Rihanna from a sales perspective, only. After saying, "Let's see what has happened with his sales since the incident," Mello reports that "Exclusive," which was issued in November 2007, sold 11 copies chainwide in October 2008, 8 copies in November, 5 units un January, 4 in February, 2 in March, and 0 copies in April, May and June. "From July until now, we have sold 3 copies," Mello adds. "When you see an artist is going to release a new album and then you go back and see these kind of sales, alarm bells go off. You don't feel over confident about bringing in a lot of records."
Nevertheless, "we brought in the new album because you know you are going to sell some," Mello says. "We let the consumer vote on it."
And so far, consumers aren't flocking to stores to vote on behalf of Brown. Sources project that Brown sold about 100,000 units last week, well below the 150,000-175,000 units he was expected to sell. Mello says that the album is probably about the No. 40 best selling title at the chain.
Even Wal-Mart -- which was singled out by Brown on Twitter as one of the so-called merchants boycotting his record because the Wallingford, Conn., store didn't have it in stock -- says they are carrying the Brown album. "We are surprised at the comments on Twitter, since all Wal-Mart stores carried the CD since its release, including the Wallingford store mentioned in the post. This store had in fact sold through their copies over the weekend. The majority of our stores are showing today they have copies on hand." Likewise, Billboard found plenty of Brown in stock at Best Buy in Union Square and on Broadway by Houston Street in Manhattan, as well as at the J&R Music World superstore in downtown Manhattan.