Music retailers and labels at odds over antitheft tags

In a setback for the nation’s music retailers, recording studios refused Thursday to set testing standards for evaluating antitheft tags for cassette tapes and CDs.

The National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers, which represents the nations’ music stores, said the recording studios rejected NARM’s request to reconsider the issue.

Maker miffed

NARM spokesman Jim Donio said the retailers were “extremely disappointed by this lack of cooperation” but would continue to evaluate the viability of source-tagging for retailers.

The opposition by recording studios is a blow for Sensormatic Electronics Corp., the nation’s leading maker of electronic antishoplifting tags.

Sensormatic’s chief operations officer, Michael Pardue, called the decision “unfortunate for the music retailer.” But he said potential revenues from the music retailing business would be a relatively small part of Sensormatic’s sales.

“NARM has worked long and hard to get source-tagging implemented. The music manufacturers are apparently unwilling to cooperate with them as freely and openly as required,” Pardue said in an interview with Reuters.

Sound quality issue

At issue is whether Sensormatic’s electro-magnetic tags affect sound quality on music cassettes.

NARM, whose members bear the cost for stolen albums, has been trying to persuade the recording studios to install antishoplifting tags in cassette and CD packages as part of the manufacturing process.

But the six biggest studios — including Sony Music, Polygram and WEA — oppose the Sensormatic technology because of what they claim produces sound distortion in recordings.

The studios said their tests showed the equipment used to deactivate the Ultra-Max tags caused a degradation in sound quality on cassette tapes.

Sensormatic disputed the allegations and NARM’s electronic article surveillance committee said the studios’ tests were flawed.

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