Watching The Throne: Do Disgruntled Retailers Have A Point?

Written by J.Monkey. Posted in Spotlight, The Biz

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Published on August 02, 2011 with 5 Comments

Last Thursday an assortment of independent retailers, aka ‘mom & pop record stores’ issued a statement through the Record Store Day channels urging Jay & Ye to put a stop to their deal with Best Buy. There’s still a certain thrill about going to a good record store that the digital can hardly replace, but these stores are often having a hard time staying afloat even without unbeatable competition like this. TRU reached out to discuss the matter with fellow bloggers and music lovers Enigmatik of Boo Goo Doo Boom and Khal of Rock The Dub fame, himself no stranger to selling records.

Jaap: In short, do the retailers have a legitimate gripe or would you say it’s not Jay & Ye’s problem anyway?
Enigmatik: Not their problem.
Khal: Their gripe is understood, but I like sh*t having events. Do I get mad when another blog gets the exclusive?
Jaap: Right, but in the blog game, once it’s out, it’s fair game. These shops have to wait two weeks before they get to sell this, so initial consumer incentive will probably have seriously diminished by then.
Enigmatik: True. They control the product so they can decide who gets to sell it and how.
Khal: They mad? Do stadiums and arenas get mad when a Barbra Streisand does a one night only at MSG or something? I mean the shit sounds like babytalk to me.
Jaap: Fair point. But how about the long term? Physical sales are dwindling for record stores all-round, so deliberately shutting out a considerable amount of them does hurt them a lot more than it would hurt a concert arena.
Khal: See that’s my point – With so much talk about “oh the physical side is dying” and the idea that the music industry is going back to a more singles-driven market, with so many ways for artists to take the power back (Bandcamp, Kickstarter, etc.), this just feels like the natural – People consciously making decisions that will directly push what we’ve already been debating on. I’m not saying it’s a GREAT thing, but it was bound to happen, be it Hov or Metallica. I just can’t really get too heated about it. Hov has been doing this – remember how he didn’t want American Gangster tracks to be sold separately?
Jaap: True, but that seemed motivated primarily by artistic concerns, this is purely the $. But like you said, they control the product and have every right to do so. I can see why the store owners are peeved though.
Enigmatik: This is a business. Point blank. If this is how they want to execute their business plan, then that’s how it’s gonna get done. It’s all good to want to support the little guy, but when has Jay been about that? Hell, he wouldnt even be cool with Kanye if Kanye didnt put in work and make Jay take notice.
Khal: Word up. We’re surprised that one of the cats who is associated with materialism and rich n***a rap pulled a rich n***a move?

Below is the open letter that the retailers released.

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

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,

(Click here for the full list of signees)



1982 was when Jaap van der Doelen aka J.Monkey shot his way out his mom dukes. A mere two years later he was already battling Big Brother and The Illuminati. Whenever he has time to spare from those efforts he writes (about music, mostly), hosts a radio show and designs graphics for a living. He lives in The Netherlands where he continues to be winning.

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There are currently 5 Comments on Watching The Throne: Do Disgruntled Retailers Have A Point?. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Damn, that was one stupid ass discussion. What about the fact that CD sales account for 80% of the ENTIRE music consumption, or the fact that mom and pop stores account for over 50% of those sales?

    I have an idea, next time Jay or Kanye drop an album, mom and pop stores should just not promote or sell them all together… idiots.

  2. I see the arguments on both sides. At the end of the day, you still gotta bump WTT in your car. In that regard, disco compact es necesario. But they need to stop acting like Jay and Ye owe them something. These dudes spent 8 months in the studio working on their product, putting up with egos. Shouldn’t get to decide how they want to release it their product? If this was some no-name album would retailers care if it’s iTunes exclusive or not? At the end of the day, it’s about the bottom line for all parties involved, including the retailers.

    • “If this was some no-name album would retailers care if it’s iTunes exclusive or not?” very good point. hell, i’m putting out an EP from The Jake – i don’t see Best Buy asking why i haven’t pressed it out on CD and have it on their shelves.

    • Actually, with a tape/cd deck, I could just plug in my iPod. No Compact Disc necessary.

  3. Exactly, Khal. Just like retailers are crying over Jay-Ye, they could care less about any other artist utilizing digital venues to move their product. Those two have achieved a level that allows them to have this leverage in the business.

    If they wanted to sell their album exclusively in a bodega in Brooklyn, people would still go out of their way to cop it. And we haven’t even touched on minimizing the effect of bootlegging/leaks by releasing the album digitally first.

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