Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jay Z's Best Buy link up unpopular

So, the new Jay-Z album has its launch all lined up - iTunes get an exclusive first go; then Best Buy get a super-duper special exclusive version.

And what about the smaller stores, the ones that helped Mr Z as his career was getting going?

Ah, they just get the bum's rush. And they're not happy about it. The New York Times reports:

An open letter addressed to Jay-Z and Kanye West and signed by 200 independent record stores, including Mr. Hill’s, was published by Billboard last Thursday, calling the deal “short-sighted”.

Michael Bunnell, a founder of Record Store Day, an umbrella organization that represents the independent stores that signed the letter, said the recent trend of big-name artists aligning with large retail stores to push album sales saddled already suffering independent stores with more pressure.

“These stores are family owned and still have a passion for what they do,” said Mr. Bunnell, 61, who has owned the Record Exchange in Boise, Idaho for 34 years. “They don’t sell appliances on the side.”

Mr. Hill, whose store doubles as a barbershop to stay open, says that he would have ordered 300 copies of the album, but that, given the deal with Best Buy, he is scaling back orders by half.
Mr Z's response isn't entirely encouraging:
“We made this album and it took us eight months,” he said. “We should be able to release it the way we like, without everybody being up in arms.”
Yes, how dare the people who were there for him when he was starting out expect a bit of support in return? How dare they "get up in arms" and try to tell the IMPORTANT MR ZEE what to do?

Z's rather lame explanation for the deal is "mutter mutter probably something to do with piracy":
[H]e said a same-day release to all outlets would inevitably lead to leaked songs during the process of shipping the album all over the country, which would take several days. Ensuring releases go to one retailer first, he said, would prevent that and allow for higher sales.
Because, you know, nothing helps sales like going on the radio and suggesting that somehow small record shop owners are less trustworthy than the people who shove boxes of stuff round Best Buy. Or seeming to imply that somehow a CD in Best Buy is impregnable.

Given you only need one copy for an album to be leaked online, the Z defence is palpably nonsense. Obviously, a very rich man going on the radio and saying "look, I love money, and this way, I get lots and lots more money" would have been unpleasant. But at least it would have been honest.