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On This Day 1981: Tom Petty battles the record industry with "Hard Promises" and wins

Tom-Petty-Hard-Promises-cover (2)
album artwork

It was 40 years ago today that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers released their fourth album “Hard Promises”. In a controversial battle with MCA, his record label at the time, he fought to keep “superstar-pricing”, raising the list price from the standard $8.98, the standard at the time, to $9.98. Petty considered it price-gouging and even threatened to not turn the album over to MCA.

Even after winning the battle with the label, Tom considered calling the album “$8.98”. Instead he chose album artwork that shows him in a record store in front bins of albums priced at…. $8.98. The album was quite successful thanks to a number of tracks, including “The Waiting” and “The Insider” featuring Stevie Nicks.


John is the mid-morning host on WFPK. Email John at jtimmons@lpm.org