HITS Daily Double


Exclusive Show Phone to Make a Splash at Stores Nationwide
From the moment that Eric Weisman was tapped to take over as CEO of Musicland last fall, he was chanting the mantra of expanding product lines in the one-time national market share leader in music retailing. And he promised a blockbuster announcement to kick off the company's new direction. Well, today, amidst great fanfare at the Sam Goody store in L.A.’s famous Universal City Walk, Weisman unveiled an exclusive three-year partnership with American Idol production company Fremantle Media and NY-based Artist Communications to begin selling an American Idol cell phone at Sam Goody, Media Play and Suncoast retail outlets nationwide.

Idol judge Simon Cowell, who was on hand for the unveiling, will serve as the spokesperson for the new Nokia phones, which will offer exclusive features, including more than 100 text, photo and voice messages from Simon and contestants.

“Since I came on board with Musicland,” Weisman told us, “There were two focuses. One was getting the business stabilized with a good sound foundation, which we’ve achieved, and the other is redefining what Musicland means to our customer. We wanted to look through the eyes of our consumer, understanding their changing needs. And the convergence of wireless technology with music, movies and games is an area that we need to satisfy the aspirations of our customer, and that’s what we’re setting out to do.”

Weisman credits Artist Communications Chairman and CEO Steve Leber with architecting the deal. Leber is an industry veteran who shares Weisman’s background in artist management, getting his start years ago at the William Morris Agency, eventually working with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and AC/DC.

“Musicland is demonstrating a real vision and the ability to be at the right place at the right time,” says Leber. “The combination of relevant entertainment properties inside a wireless experience is a powerful differentiator when fighting for the ever-precious youth market.”

Cowell called the new phone and its capabilities “Bloody brilliant,” and added “This is going to be the rudest phone in America.”

Adds Weisman: “Product expansion and diversification are critical to all retailers to be successful. So, for us to continue to grow our business, we’re looking to do this. And the wireless and consumer electronics marketplace are great categories; very relevant to our customers. So, we’re going to do what we can to drive the growth of those categories and marry those categories after all to our core businesses: music, movies and games. Complementing our core business, one feeding off of the other.”

Musicland also announced a national sweepstakes to help launch the new phone line that will send the winner to the finale of American Idol with the opportunity to meet Cowell before the show.