Scores of independent record store owners are calling out Jay-Z and Kanye West over release plans for their much-anticipated "Watch the Throne" collaboration.
Owners signed a letter that calls the exclusive deals with Apple Inc.'s iTunes and Best Buy "bad news" and asks two of music's top stars to reconsider and allow more than 1,700 indie retailers equal access.
"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 letter states. "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."
Exclusive deals are now common for top acts and it's unclear why the letter's original writers, the organizers of Record Store Day, chose this project to object. Doyle Davis, co-owner of Grimey's New and Preloved Music in Nashville, said some of the letter's signees will pull current and previous releases by the two artists from their shelves, though he will not go that far.
Jay-Z and West have agreed to give iTunes customers access to "Watch the Throne" on Aug. 8, four days ahead of everyone else. And Best Buy Co. Inc. will exclusively sell a deluxe album till Aug. 23 when other retailers will have access.
Jay-Z's spokesman had no comment and West's did not immediately reply to an email from The Associated Press.
Record Store Day has become something of a holiday for independent retailers each April. This year, dozens of artists provided exclusive vinyl, performances and other perks.
Fans lined up, sometimes hours early and around the block, to score new music from acts like Radiohead and The White Stripes. Independent stores have suffered a marked decline over the last decade, casualties of the ascendance of box stores, digital music sales and a poor economy.
Now they say they just want a fighting chance.
"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," the letter states.
AP Music Editor Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.
Contact Chris Talbott at www.twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.