Let’s Put On Our Thinking Caps
Stop making Target declining to stock Frank Ocean’s album about his sexuality or the iTunes digital exclusive in advance of physical release. The real reason is plain in the statement they gave Billboard. I’ve bolded it below for you.
"The claims made about Target’s decision to not carry the Frank Ocean album are absolutely false. Target supports inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of our business. Our assortment decisions are based on a number of factors, including guest demand. Target has a longstanding tradition of supporting music and artistry that reflects the diverse landscape of American culture. Our history of partnering with diverse artists includes recent partnerships with a variety of musicians, such as Ricky Martin, B.o.B., and Gloria Estefan.”
They’re not selling it because it’s not a big enough album to merit the limited shelf-space places like Target allot for physical albums. It was reported early this year that music sales represent less than 0.3% of total sales for Target, Walmart and Best Buy — three of the biggest chain retailers to still carry music inventory. Shelf space has been systematically reduced at all three stores for the last 10 years. At this point, if you’ve checked out your local Target’s in-store selection lately, you are aware it’s maybe three shelves, but probably less, including iTunes gift cards.
As for this Tweet from Ocean’s manager:
I apologize for my comments about Target. They are not carrying Franks album because it went digital first. Not for ANY other reason.— 4 Strikes(@christianclancy) July 11, 2012
I’m sure someone told him that, but it’s also untrue. Target stocked Watch The Throne in spite of their iTunes exclusive presale*. There are probably multiple additional examples of this — for huge, best-selling artists.
While I personally am very much in love with Frank Ocean’s album, music lovers may need to admit that it’s not quite an event album. Target doesn’t believe it will sell enough physical copies to merit stocking in their stores. They might not be wrong. Digital sales surpassed physical sales for the first time in 2011.
Target’s corporate overlords have a sketchy history with the gay community that they’ve been trying to overcome. But asserting that gayness is a reason they’d decline to sell an album from anyone who would sell will is a big stretch. Target themselves asserting it’s because of a digital exclusive is bunk. They’re not selling it because they don’t think Target shoppers are likely to buy it.
*NOTE: There was a Best Buy exclusive on this album also and that must have pissed Target off. But you can still buy a copy there due to high consumer demand.