Rolling Stone #339 — March 19, 1981

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Music: Tom Petty battles MCA over album pricing
By Steve Pond
Rolling Stone #339 — March 19, 1981

Once again, Tom Petty is squabbling with his record company. This time he’s angry because MCA — which owns his label, Backstreet Records — may slap a $9.98 price tag on his upcoming album. “My immediate reaction was ‘no way,'” Petty said. “It just ain’t right. I don’t need the extra dollar, and I can’t imagine that MCA needs it. They’re just motivated by greed.”

Petty, who spent time in court two years ago fighting MCA over his contract rights, learned of the possible price hike when he read that a Los Angeles record store planned to boycott both his album and Steely Dan’s Gaucho, another $9.98 MCA record. But MCA Records Vice President Gene Froelich denied that any decision has been made yet about Petty’s LP. “It could come out as $9.98, but it could also come out at $8.98, $5.98, or $12.98,” he said. “We will make that decision when the album’s been delivered to us.”

But Petty’s comanager, Tony Dimitriades, said that the singer may not deliver the album until he is assured of the lower price. “The accountants want to listen to the album before they decide how much to charge,” Dimitriades said. “We’re incensed at that. We’re not going to give the record to a bunch of accountants so they can figure out the price. We’re prepared to stop everything and not finish it.”

Petty isn’t sure he can hold out, but he’s counting on public pressure to change MCA’s mind. “I’m a little weary of trying to bring ethics to this business,” he said. “In fact, if I’m forced out at $9.98, I’m not going to take the extra money. I don’t think this is a good time to slap another dollar on the price of anything, let alone records.”

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