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‘Watch the Throne’ Album Release Date Upsetting Independent Record Store Owners

Kanye West and Jay-Z
Daniel Boczarski, Getty Images

Not everyone is happy about the upcoming release of Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s collaborative LP ‘Watch the Throne.’ A growing number of independent record store owners are objecting to the duo’s release-date strategy of giving iTunes and Best Buy stores exclusive windows to sell different versions of their ‘Watch the Throne’ album.

The breakdown goes something like this: iTunes will exclusively sell the standard and deluxe versions of ‘Watch the Throne’ on August 8. Then, on Aug. 12, formal stores can offer only the regular version of the album, because Best Buy has an exclusive two-week window to sell the deluxe version starting on the same day. Finally, on Aug. 23, both versions will be available everywhere.

It’s the exclusivity towards iTunes and Best Buy that the indie store owners object to because, in the end, it will hurt their bottom line.

In an open letter to Hov and Yeezy, Record Store Day organizers are asking the rap tandem to reconsider their “short-sighted” strategy and allow over 1,700 indie stores to have fair leverage in selling ‘Watch the Throne.’

“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.”

The coveted deluxe version of ‘Throne’ boasts four bonus tracks, including the previously Internet-released ‘H*A*M’, ‘The Joy’ (featuring Curtis Mayfield), ‘That’s My B—h,’ as well as a new song called ‘Illest Mother—–r Alive.’ In order for customers to get these songs, they would have to either buy them on iTunes or visit Best Buy.

Although exclusive store deals are commonplace for big-name artists, this is definitely not fair for independent retail owners. An album as big as ‘Watch the Throne’ should be available everywhere on the same day. Furthermore, in most cases a mom-and-pop record store is more likely to be located near the average consumer than a big-box store like Best Buy or Target.

Most likely, this was a boneheaded business decision by the record labels (Roc A Fella/ Roc Nation/ Live Nation/ Island Def Jam/ Universal Music Group) to secure first and second week sales since those are most important for such a highly-anticipated album.

Neither Jay-Z, West, or their parent record labels had no comment on the matter.

Watch Kanye West and Jay-Z Perform ‘H*A*M’

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