The Scissor Sisters' Ta-Dah is currently the top album in the U.K., having sold more than 288,000 copies its first week of release. The first single from that album, "I Don't Feel Like Dancin', " sits atop the U.K. singles chart — after knocking a certain Mr. Timberlake out of #1 — with sales of more than 67,000 copies, according to the Official Charts Company.
Yet in the U.S., the album — which was released here Tuesday (September 26) — is not being carried in nearly 1,100 record stores in 26 states, all because of a single comment Sisters frontman Jake Shears made at a retail convention in Kissimmee, Florida, last month.
"I complained at the NARM [the National Association of Recording Merchandisers] convention that [For Your Entertainment's] record prices were too high," Shears told MTV News over the weekend at Baltimore's Virgin Festival. "A few months ago, I went to go buy the new Raconteurs album, and it was like $18.99. Of course, I rounded it up to $20 when I made the comments, and now they're denying it. They said, 'Our records are not $20, they're $19.99.' And so now they're not carrying our new record. I mean, even Wal-Mart is carrying it, but FYE is not."
But Shears is only partially accurate, because FYE isn't the only chain that won't be carrying the New York band's Ta-Dah — neither will Sam Goody, Strawberries, Wherehouse, Specs or Coconuts. Like FYE, those chains are owned by Trans World Entertainment, an Albany, New York, entertainment conglomerate that is one of the largest retailers of music, video and video games in the U.S.
According to Trans World President and CEO Jim Litwak, his company was just expressing its displeasure at Shears' comments, which he said were untrue and unfair. And furthermore, he said the whole situation could've been avoided had the band bothered to pick up the phone and call him.
"Mr. Shears said that he tried to buy a Raconteurs album but didn't because it was too expensive," Litwak told MTV News. "But he didn't bring it up to register, because if he did, he would've seen that the CD was on sale.
"So Mr. Shears made an incorrect statement at a convention instead of reaching out to us, to discuss our pricing," Litwak continued. "We decided that it would've been nice to get an apology from them, so we reached out to their distribution company [Universal Music Group Distribution] to let them know we were displeased, and we never heard back from them. So we made the decision not to carry the band's new release."
A spokesperson for UMG Distribution declined to comment on the matter, but neither Shears nor Litwak seemed prepared to let the issue drop, which means that for the foreseeable future, Ta-Dah will be shut out of all Trans World retailers. It will, however, be available just about everywhere else in the U.S., including Virgin, Tower and most major — and indie — music stores, plus electonic outlets like Amazon.com and the iTunes Music Store.
"Our hands are up in the air, and there's no rhyme or reason in this country when it comes to music," Shears sighed. "And this gives you an idea of the iron curtain that's really going on. We've sort of just decided to work really hard and see what happens."
"There are thousands of new releases out there, we've just decided not to carry this one. All they had to do was pick up the phone and talk to us," Litwak said. "But they didn't elect to do that. We were ignored, and he made those comments. So who's the injured party here?"