Bennett raps Bronfman’s broken promise

D.C. culture warriors plan to accuse Universal Studios Inc. chief exec Edgar Bronfman Jr. of failing to honor a personal promise not to distribute music that includes violent and profane lyrics.

Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) will join Empower America’s William Bennett and C. DeLores Tucker of the National Political Congress of Black Women at a press conference today to condemn Universal-owned MCA Records and Bronfman for continuing to distribute works by Marilyn Manson, Snoop Doggy Dogg and the late Tupac Shakur.

In an op-ed piece Monday in the New York Times, Bennett and Tucker touched on some of the issues they are expected to raise at the press conference.

Bennett also claims that Bronfman personally promised him that his company would not distribute violent and sexually explicit lyrics when MCA (now Universal Studios Inc.) bought 50% of Interscope Records from Time Warner earlier this year. Universal is also close to acquiring Interscope’s music publishing stake currently held by Warner Chappell Music, a TW company.

Private meeting

An aide to Bennett said Monday that Bronfman made the promise during a private meeting in Washington.

Bennett and his fellow culture warriors have been highly critical of the rap-music genre for more than two years, and he is widely credited with forcing Time Warner to divest itself of Interscope.

The loss of the Jimmy Iovine/Ted Field label from TW’s Warner Music Group has resulted in nearly a 4% drop in current market share for WEA, the distributor of the Warner family of labels.

Clause highlighted

Bennett will also point to a clause in the MCA/Interscope deal that allows MCA Records to decline to distribute any record which it finds unacceptable. Interscope would then be required to seek alternate distribution for such albums, as it did in 1995 with releases from Shakur and Snoop, which Polygram and Priority Records distributed, respectively.

WEA distributed the Manson disc in the final months of its pact with Interscope while the label sought a different distributor.

The culture warriors also plan to praise Wal-Mart for its decision not to sell music with lyrics and cover art that the store finds objectionable.

However, many labels are aware of Wal-Mart’s sensibilities and frequently create two versions of an album’s cover: one for Wal-Mart’s 900-plus stores that carry music, and another version for the majority of retailers.

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