Independent Retailers Petition Jay-Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne' Release Plan
Published Jul 28, 2011Jay-Z and Kanye West's upcoming album Watch the Throne is unquestionably one of the most anticipated releases of the year and will probably move plenty of units in its first week of release. However, the album's exclusivity deals with iTunes and Best Buy have ruffled some feathers in the independent record store community.
Watch the Throne is scheduled to hit iTunes on August 8, with a physical version dropping on August 12. The album's deluxe edition, which includes bonus tracks not found on the regular version, will be sold exclusively at Best Buy in the United States for the first ten days of its release. To counter this, Record Store Day organizers have written an open letter to the rap stars in hopes that they'll change their minds.
Here's the full open letter as it appears on the Record Store Day site [via Pitchfork]:
Dear Jay-Z and Kanye West,
Independent record stores serve our communities. Our passion is music, and we convey this to the millions of customers who come to our stores. That's what we do.
Four years ago independent music stores across the country banded together to create Record Store Day. Our goal was to counter the negative media coverage about the supposed demise of record stores brought on by the closing of the Tower stores and to respond to the music business practices that fans deemed to be manipulative and onerous.
We reached out to the artist community to see if they would join us, and the response was overwhelming with words of support coming in from Paul McCartney, Erykah Badu, Tom Waits, Chuck D, the Foo Fighters and countless others. Working with their label partners, many of these musicians created limited edition works of art, including vinyl and CDs made especially for music specialty retail. Hundreds of these artists took the opportunity to perform, DJ, and interact with their fans in our record stores. Here in the US, Record Store Day lifted the entire music business by 8% and contributed to the growth in music sales. Record Store Day is now one of the biggest music events in history with millions of people participating worldwide. We also continue to work throughout the year with labels, artists and managers and run regular promotions via physical independent retail and recordstoreday.com.
We are responding to the bad news that your new album will not be available to independent record stores until after iTunes gets a window of exclusivity. We also learned that the deluxe version (which is what the true music fans who shop our stores will want by an overwhelming majority) will only be available at Best Buy exclusively for a period of time. We believe this 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.
We know that you are busy, and that you put most of your energies into creating great music, but we are writing to you in the hope that you will hear us and take the time to rectify this matter. As representatives of the independent record store music community, we are asking you to allow record stores and music fans equal access to your new album.
With the utmost respect,
Dedry Jones, The Music Experience
Mike Dreese, Newbury Comics
Judy Negley, Independent Records
Mike Batt, Silver Platters
Tobago Benito, DBS Sounds
Brian Faber, Zia Records
Karen Pearson, Amoeba Music
Bryan Burkert, The Sound Garden
Mike Wise, Monster
Rob Roth, Vintage Vinyl
Joe Nardone, Jr., Gallery of Sound
Jonathan Fernandez, Rasputin Music
Dilyn Radakovitz, Dimple Records
Dustin Hansen, Graywhale Entertainment
Bill Kennedy, BK Music
Jim Bland, Plan Nine
Steve Wilson, Kiefs
Tom King, Central Square Records
Alayna Hill Alderman, Richard Storms, Record Archive
Karl Groeger, Looney Tunes
Paul Epstein, Twist and Shout
Nancy Salzer, Salzer's Records
Rick Ziegler, Indy CD
Laura, Finders Records
Deon Borchard, Nic Fritze, The Long Ear
Chuck Oken, Rhino /Mad Platter
Allan Miller, John Bevis, Disc Exchange
Charlotte Kubat, Magnolia Thunderpussy
John Kunz, Waterloo Records
Chris Avino, Rainbow Records
Mike Fratt, Homers
Rich Koch, Off the Record
Skip Hermans, Skip's Record and CD World
Jason Patton, Oz Music
Quinn Bishop, Cactus Records
John Timmons, ear X tacy
Lou Russell, Lou's Records
Roger Weiss, Streetlight Records
Terry Currier, Music Millenium
Andrew Chinnici, Lakeshore Record Exchange
Michael Bunnell, The Record Exchange
Mike White, Boo Boo Records
Steve Baron, CD Central
Eric Levin, Criminal Records
Pat O'connor, Culture Clash
Dan Plunkett, End Of An Ear
Paula Kret, Exile On Main St
Chris Penn, Good Records
Doyle Davis, Grimey's
Travis Searle, Guestroom Records
Jim Mcguinn, Hot Poop
Isaac Slusarenko, Jackpot Records
Jason Nickey & Heath Byers, Landlocked Music
Todd Robinson, Luna Music
Darren & Jim Blase, Shake It
Anna & Chris Brozek, Slowtrain
Kimber Lanning, Stinkweeds
Tom "Papa" Ray, Vintage Vinyl
Even if the letter does tug at Jay-Z and Kanye's heartstrings, we remain skeptical that giants like Best Buy or iTunes will allow the rappers to back out of an exclusivity agreement. It's also unclear whether any of this applies to Canadian retailers, as HMV is listing the album with an August 12 release date for both versions.
Furthermore, if we could add our two cents, it would fix everything if Jay-Z and Kanye got the ball rolling on a vinyl version of the album to be sold through independent retailers. After all, if this album is as good as we're hoping it will be, we're going to want to enjoy it on wax.