EW has learned exclusively that a group of today's most prominent independent music labels are joining forces to produce a series of compilations much like the staggeringly successful Now That's What I Call Music series. Instead of pop hits by the likes of Xtina, Rihanna, and Hinder, however, this as-yet-untitled series will feature songs from artists such as Bloc Party, the Shins, Bright Eyes, Air, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, M. Ward, Ted Leo, Cat Power, Silversun Pickups, and the indie-in-spirit-if-not-in-label Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sonic Youth.
''These bands' records sell really well to a particular audience,'' says Adam Shore, general manager for Vice Records, which aims to release the first volume this July (they're already the American home to high-profile acts Bloc Party, the Streets, and Charlotte Gainsbourg). ''But even though these artists are getting all this media exposure, they're not necessarily crossing over to a very casual record buyer.'' The plan of action? ''We're partnering with MTV2, and the focus is going to be Walmarts, big box stores, red states, and TV advertising to really go beyond.... We don't really expect indie-rock stores to support this record. It's for the casual fan.''
Much like the Now discs (the 24th in the series was just released last week), the comp will likely jump from label to label with each release. Though there's no formal agreement yet, ''Matador has expressed interest in putting out volume two, and Sub Pop has shown interest in volume three.''
So, will soccer moms, pop-radio listeners, and the other 98 percent of the population who don't plan their days around the release of the next Yo La Tengo record be drawn in by this new concept? ''The truth is, people are not buying records the way they used to,'' Shore admits. ''But the popularity of these bands is bigger than they've ever been before. So what we're trying to do here is give more people more reasons to listen to these artists.''