“Watch the Throne Be Sold Exclusively.” That’s what independent record store owners probably think Jay-Z and Kanye West’s new album is called. The rappers have upset independent record store owners across the United States. “Watch the Throne”, Jay and Kanye’s highly anticipated collaborative album, is set to be released on August 12th. However, last week a deal was announced which gave Apple exclusive rights to begin selling the album on iTunes on August 8th, four days before the album is released anywhere else. Also, Best Buy will be the exclusive retailer of the deluxe CD version until August 23rd.
The indie stores have issued an open letter to the two artists bemoaning the exclusive deals that they have made. They are requesting equal access and say to the rappers that it “is a short-sighted strategy, and that your decisions will be doing great damage to over 1,700 independent record stores — stores that have supported you and your music for years.” (Read the entire letter here.)
Jay-Z and Kanye aren’t the first artists to make deals like this. Just looking at the inserts in the Sunday newspaper, I see that Best Buy and Target have exclusive editions of albums for sale right now. I’m sure the independent retailers would be able to stomach Best Buy selling the deluxe “Watch the Throne” CD for a couple weeks before they could but also having iTunes selling the album for a full four days before they can is probably too much to swallow. I suppose they decided to finally lash out at someone.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the situation. Jay and Kanye made a couple deals of great benefit to them. The same type of deals that many artists have made before them. However, independent record stores are going to suffer, and have suffered, greatly from these deals.
How do you feel about it?