Merchants Keep Profits From Diana’s Song Sales

SATURDAY, OCT. 25, 1997

Plunk down $2.99 for Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” single and the store donates its profit to Princess Diana’s memorial fund, right?

Not usually.

“Some retailers are, most aren’t,” said Yvette Venable, spokeswoman for Walgreen Co., which has no plans to donate the profits.

Minneapolis-based Target Stores is among the few large retailers that are.

Stung by an angry customer response following news stories that the discount retailer was not contributing its profits to charities backed by the princess, Target decided hurriedly this week to contribute $100,000 to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

Target estimates the donation will exceed its profits from sales of John’s CD.

“I think the average consumer did assume that everything was going” to the memorial fund, Target spokeswoman Gail Dorn said.

Marcia Appel, senior vice president for marketing at Musicland, said it is unclear how people got the idea that most retailers were donating profits from the CD and cassette sales to the memorial fund.

“I think it’s one of those mystifying things that gets played out in the media, and no one can figure out who started it,” she said.

When John announced he would record the funeral song, he said all profits would go the Diana fund for her favorite causes, such as AIDS and cancer research. The announcement referred only to the artist’s royalties and Mercury Records’ slice of the profits, but that wasn’t spelled out in news reports.

A&M; and Mercury are separate record labels owned by Polygram.

In a statement this week, A&M; Records Inc. said: “Neither Target, nor any other retailer, is under any obligation to be a part of the charitable aspects of the project, nor have they been asked to be.”

A&M; spokeswoman Diana Baron noted that a label on the cassettes and CDs says, “All artist and composer royalties and record company profits from sales of this single will be donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.”

John’s new version of his 1973 “Candle in the Wind” was rewritten to eulogize Princess Diana, who was killed Aug. 31 in a Paris car crash. He recorded the piano-and-vocal version of the song after performing it at Diana’s funeral.


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