Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bruce signs exclusive deal with WalMart

I winced this morning when I read this:

"Just weeks away from the release of his new studio album, Bruce
Springsteen has ironed out an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart to
distribute his forthcoming best-of compilation."

Deals like the WalMart deal seem to be at odds with his everyman image. I know it's been a long time since Bruce was a struggling artist scrapping around Jersey clubs, and I know that it's his prerogative to have his music marketed and used as he sees fit. I'm not going to call him a "sell out" because he maximizes income from his artistic output, but, like I said, this deal makes me wince.

What bugs me most about Bruce getting in bed with WalMart is the way that WalMart depresses wages and benefits in the communities where they set up, coupled with the damage done to locally owned businesses in communities where stores operate. We all know that WalMart is just this side of the US retail subsidiary for the Chinese manufacturing industry. The reason that fans such as myself react so strongly to deals like Bruce's WalMart deal is that workers struggling to make ends meet, workers losing jobs because their factory closed or stories of men not being able to earn what it takes to support their families are frequent themes of Bruce's songs. I'm sure you could trace back to the role of WalMart in many such actual stories of real life people in today's America.

I guess there is some solace in this being a greatest hits record that is obviously aimed at the casual fan or the soon to be fan, and not a new record that is something that we longstanding fans would want. But only a little.

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