Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne will likely be the biggest hip-hop release of the summer. But the two rap stars and their record labels, Def Jam and Roc Nation, have decided to offer the album exclusively through iTunes from Aug. 8 to Aug. 12. And from Aug. 12 until Aug. 24, Best Buy will be the only retailer allowed to sell the deluxe edition of the CD.
More than 50 independent retailers nationwide have taken Jay-Z and Kanye West to task for shutting them out of first week sales opportunities. The retailers released an open letter that encouraged the two to reconsider.
“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. 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.”
Independent record stores played a major role in supplying hip-hop music to fans before major retailers realized the powerful impact of the music.
But now that hip-hop has become a billion-dollar industry, it’s unfortunate that the top stars in hip-hop are turning their backs on the institutions that supported them from the beginning.
Are Jay-Z and Kanye West turning their backs on independent record stores, or are they expanding hip-hop by signing exclusive deals with major retailers? Leave a comment.