NEW YORK (Billboard) - The June leak of nine allegedly "mastered, finished" tracks from Guns N' Roses' long-delayed "Chinese Democracy" spurred a renewed round of speculation about whether the Axl Rose-led band will finally release the 14-years-in-the-making album.
But some concrete signs are finally emerging that the album's release could be imminent. That's because, according to sources, negotiations are under way for "Chinese Democracy" to come out as an exclusive at one of the big-box retailers -- either Wal-Mart or Best Buy.
Negotiations are also ongoing for conventional record company distribution, another source said.
Guns N' Roses is now managed by Irving Azoff's Front Line Management, and Azoff is a well-known proponent of issuing albums exclusively through retailers. He released the Eagles' "Long Road Out of Eden" through Wal-Mart, much to the chagrin of other merchants.
It's unclear who initiated the Guns N' Roses exclusive negotiations -- Front Line or Interscope, the band's label.
Representatives at Front Line and Interscope with knowledge of the situation couldn't be reached for comment. A Wal-Mart representative said the chain couldn't confirm this fall's exclusive album offerings. Best Buy representatives couldn't be reached for comment.