Bob Dylan has joined the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Alanis Morissette on the persona-non-grata list of Canada's largest music retailer, HMV. Last week HMV Canada president Humphrey Kadaner ordered the removal of all Dylan products from the shelves of his 107-store chain -- 108, I guess, if you include the 3,600-square-metre shop that's officially opening in downtown Vancouver this weekend -- to protest the retail exclusivity deal given to Starbucks coffee shops for a "new" Dylan CD, Live at the Gaslight 1962, on the Sony BMG label.
You may recall that Kadaner undertook the same gambit in 2003, when Michael Cohl, the Rolling Stones' Toronto-based tour and merchandise manager, struck an exclusive deal with Minneapolis-based Best Buy and Future Shop for the Four Flicks DVD by Mick and Co. Ditto last year's John's DVD set Dream Ticket, which went, again, the Future Shop-Best Buy route. More recently, Morissette recordings and DVDs went missing from HMV for six weeks after Starbucks was given limited retail rights this summer to an all-acoustic CD titled Jagged Little Pill.
While other chains such as Music World, Sunrise Records and CD Plus have occasionally jumped on the "yer-outta-here" wagon when faced with exclusives going to businesses for whom music is more sideline than mainstay, HMV Canada has been far and away the most consistent nabob of negativism. To a layman, it may seem HMV's pullouts don't appear to have stemmed the exclusivity tide, as artists or their managers or labels keep going with it.
But Kadaner says that's not so. "We have been informed by several of the major record companies in Canada [that]our stance . . . has prevented other exclusive products from crossing the U.S. border into Canada," he said this week. Moreover, "the U.S. counterparts of several Canadian record companies" have agreed "not to include Canada in future U.S.-record-company-initiated exclusive arrangements."
The Dylan ban is occurring at an interesting time. Martin Scorsese has just completed a documentary, No Direction Home, on him. It has its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It's also being released as a DVD this fall, while recently, Sony BMG issued a 28-song soundtrack of the same name.
Dylan, in short, is happening. But the only way HMV is going to be cashing in is if a customer goes to the chain's special-order department. Otherwise, "we will not be actively stocking, displaying nor promoting Dylan," Kadaner said.
The wheels of change keep on rolling at Maclean's. This week, Canada's weekly newsmagazine announced the departures of Brian Bergman and Robert Sheppard from its editorial division. Bergman, formerly with Alberta Report and The Edmonton Journal, had been with Maclean's for at least 16 years, most recently as the Calgary-based head of its Prairies bureau, while Sheppard went there as a senior editor about eight years ago after a long stint at The Globe and Mail. Sheppard's final day was last Thursday. (Maclean's did not announce his departure to staff.)
Maclean's is lookingto fill five vacancies in its editing complement.
The magazine has postponed its 100th anniversary gala, originally for Sept. 29 in Toronto, to Nov. 15.
In June, Maclean's new editor and publisher, Kenneth Whyte, announced the resignations or dismissals of 11 editorial staffers as part of a "drive" to make the periodical "more relevant and vital."
Canada's largest museum, Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, marked a milestone of sorts this week with the closure of its stately entrance on Queen's Park. The doors there have been the public's main entry point since the early 1930s, when the east wing of the museum was completed. The closure on Wednesday was necessitated by ongoing work on the $200-million-plus renovation and expansion of the ROM. For the next 10 months or so, visitors will be funnelled through a temporary entrance at the ROM's south end. While the Queen's Park entrance will be used on special occasions in future, the public, starting in mid-2006, will be admitted via Daniel Libeskind's monolithic crystal on Bloor Street West. The rotunda behind the Queen's Park doors will become a coffee bar.