Home Music Debbie Harry and Blondie: New Album, No Label, Just Amazon

Debbie Harry and Blondie are trying something new. They’re releasing an album on September 13th without a record label. “Panic of Girls” is coming out on amazon. Amazon isn’t a record label, it’s a retailer. But unlike Wal Mart, Target or Best Buy, it’s only online. There are no Amazon stores. So “Panic of Girls” will just be available through amazon, and not even on ITunes. The album sounds good and so does the single, “Mother.”

But sources say that the group, which hasn’t released an album since 2003 and last had a had hit in 1999 with “Maria,” could not get a deal. I have no doubt this is true. More and more, older artists–the actual talents and the backbones of the touring business in rock music–have been forced to put out their own records. The big labels are incredibly blind to the power of so called “adult” or legacy artists.

This year artists like Aretha Franklin, Robbie Robertson, and Lindsey Buckingham are among those who have gone that route. Right now several big names are in limbo. But I’m a little surprised about this since Blondie has always had a strong following. It’s possible that their misstep album in 2003 is being held against them–labels always want to know what you sold last, as if that means anything. But it would seem that amazon’s getting into retailing is a new and unusual step for everyone involved.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
4 replies to this post
  1. Whoa! You guys are brutal! I spoke to Chris Stein of Blondie personally in November 2010 as the ended the US leg of the first tour and were starting the international leg of the second tour.
    Blondie tried for months…years…to find a label and could not. Chris was despondent. I can not quote but only paraphrase what he shared with me.
    The record industry is dead. Internet mp3 downloads have killed the CD market and made it almost impossible for a group to find a label. When was the last time you saw a music store in the US?
    So, Blondie has a new understanding of a changing market: Instead of the tour promoting the CD, the CD promotes the tour. Blondie has been touring for two years playing new material from Panic of Girls and only recently has found a label: FiveSeven Music.
    Panic of Girls has been released in a number of new ways through different means. In the UK, it was first available as a UK only mp3 download. Then a UK magazine, poster, buttons, postcards package including CD with 2 bonus tracks was independently sold: “Fan Pack”. Then the Chris Stein Deluxe Edition was released with an audio CD with two additional bonus tracks and a CD-ROM with the first single, Mother, video and a Chris Stein photogallery. Then German Rolling Stone issued a Blondie issue with an 11 track CD attached. (This is worth it for collectors: it has a different version of the second single, What I Heard). This is the same 11 track album being released now as a CD in the UK, as vinyl in the UK, and now as a CD on Amazon. The Japanese CD, when it is released, will have the same 13 tracks as found on the UK Fan Pack if you missed that limited edition.
    I only wonder if we will ever get the CD singles with remixes and bonus tracks that we used to when there were still record stores in the USA.
    The album is great. It has more in common with Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat, while it still has some eclectic content as on Autoamerican and The Hunter. It is very similar to the last two albums: No Exit and Curse of Blondie.
    The problem is not with the quality of the product, but as Christ Stein says, the death of the record industry as we knew it.

  2. Robbie Robertson is signed to a label called 429 Records which is part of the Savoy Label Group. His new solo album has sold over 200,000 copies and is poised to sell another 100K. He also debuted at #13 on the Billboard Charts which is pretty damn good nowadays for this type of artist.

  3. Bands like Blondie can’t get deals because their material doesn’t sell. That’s that plain and simple truth. I don’t doubt their artistic merits, but it’s the music “business” and no label will give a band money to make a record, if they’re not going to re-coup that money in sales.

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