Ritmo Stores Refuse Shakira

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — As Shakira's highly anticipated new album Fijación Oral, Volumen 1 hits stores amid projections of all-time sales records, Ritmo Latino, the nation's largest Latin retail chain, has pulled it's support of the Colombian singer. Ritmo has refused to stock the album in most of its 42 stores, and will instead hand out fliers detailing how the Latino superstar and her label, Epic, a Sony BMG imprint, have forgotten the star's Latin roots.

"We supported her from day one," Ritmo Latino president David Massry told Billboard. "Now that she's a crossover superstar, Sony and Shakira have very little memory."

Massry said that he is particularly upset that Shakira and her label would not schedule an in-store appearance at any stores.

Sony BMG Norte, the major's Latin division responsible for marketing the album, responded to Ritmo's actions by releasing a statement that read: "We value our longstanding relationship with Ritmo Latino and look forward to continuing our work together in serving Latin music fans."

Shakira gave in-store appearances at Virgin Megastore in New York on June 8 and at FYE in Miami on June 9, both of which were completely packed. Initial reports have indicated that Fijación Oral, Volumen 1 would sell more than 100,000 first-week copies, which would easily break Ricky Martin's first-week sales record for a Spanish-language album in the United States. Martin sold 65,000 copies of his 2003 album "Almas Del Silencio" in its first week.

Ritmo cancelled its planned order for 20,000 to 30,000 copies of Shakira's new album, Massry told Billboard, and instead only ordered a small number to be stocked at some of Ritmo's newer stores. Fans who ask for the album were handed a flier that translates in part, "Shakira and Sony Music do not support the Latin community in the USA."

Sources at Sony BMG Norte told Billboard that the singer wanted to do an in-store at Ritmo, but could not due to a scheduling conflict, and that the label tried to offer Ritmo other promotions. A source familiar with the negotiations between Ritmo and Sony BMG Norte said that Massry wanted a $2-$3 discount on his wholesale price. Massry said that he only an in-store, now or promised for Shakira's next album, will get Fijación Oral, Volumen 1 on his stores' shelves.

Massry pointed out that Univeral Music Latin promoted albums by Paulina Rubio, Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony with appearances at Ritmo stores, but that Sony declined to schedule appearances by either Martin or Shakira.

"The fliers speak for themselves," said Massry. "Sony Music and Shakira are not supporting the Latin community." –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers