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Independent record stores protest Jay-Z and Kanye's album-release shutout

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Watch The Throne

The roll-out of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collab album Watch the Throne is threefold: On Aug. 8, both standard and deluxe versions hit iTunes digitally. Next comes the standard physical version (CD and albums), which gets to formal stores Aug. 12. Best Buy, however, will have the deluxe version exclusively. Then on Aug. 22 it’s out everywhere else.

It’s the second and third part that has indie record store owners up in arms. Peeved that Best Buy will be the only place to buy the Throne CD, the Record Store Day folks sent an email out to their indie store brothers and sisters addressed to the rhymers. In it they call Jay and Kanye’s decision to give Best Buy a deluxe head start 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.”

(Though they do ask nicely: the letter also says “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.”)

The deluxe version of Throne features an additional four tracks—ones that the kind of music fanatics who frequent indie joints for music will want. They’ll likely have to take their dollars to the mainstream giant to get all 16 songs.

It’s definitely not fair. But as they say, business is business. Allowing the indies to sell the deluxe on Aug. 12 is probably the “right” thing to do. Really though, it’s the artists’ album. And if they want to keep it away from the little guys (as bad as that sounds), it’s their prerogative.

Sound off and check out the full letter (and the growing number of signatures supporting it) after the jump.

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

Read more:

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Jay-Z previews collab with Kanye West, ‘Watch the Throne’: On the scene at the NYC listening session

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