Independent Retailers' Open Letter to Jay-Z and Kanye West About 'Watch The Throne' Exclusives

In response to Jay-Z and Kanye West's decision to offer exclusive sales programs to iTunes and Best Buy for their forthcoming "Watch the Throne" LP, a number of independent retailers have written an open letter to the duo protesting the plan, calling it a "short-sighted strategy."

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 U.S., 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,

Dedry Jones, The Music Experience

Mike Dreese, Newbury Comics

Judy Negley, Independent Records

Rachelle Friedman, J&R Music World

Mike Batt, Silver Platters

John Kunz, Waterloo Records

Tobago Benito, DBS Sounds

Brian Faber, Zia Records

Karen Pearson, Amoeba Music

Bryan Burkert, The Sound Garden

Paul Epstein, Twist and Shout

Mike Wise, Monster

Rob Roth, Vintage Vinyl

Karl Groeger, Looney Tunes

Joe Nardone, Jr., Gallery of Sound

Jonathan Fernandez, Rasputin Music

Mike Fratt, Homers

Dilyn Radakovitz, Dimple Records

Lisa Teger-Zhen, Uncle Sam's Music

Dustin Hansen, Graywhale Entertainment

Bill Kennedy, BK Music

Jim Bland and Bob Schick, Plan Nine

Steve Wilson, Kiefs

Tom King, Central Square Records

Alayna Hill Alderman, Richard Storms, Record Archive

Nancy Salzer, Salzer's Records

Rick Ziegler, Indy CD

Laura, Finders Records

Deon Borchard, Nic Fritze, The Long Ear

Chuck Oken, Rhino /Mad Platter

Allan Miller, John Bevis, Disc Exchange

Charlotte Kubat, Magnolia Thunderpussy

Chris Avino, Rainbow Records

Rich Koch, Off the Record

Skip Hermans, Skip's Record and CD World

Jason Patton, Oz Music

Quinn Bishop, Cactus Records

John Timmons, ear X tacy

Lou Russell, Lou's Records

Roger Weiss, Streetlight Records

Terry Currier, Music Millenium

Andrew Chinnici, Lakeshore Record Exchange

Michael Bunnell, The Record Exchange

Mike White, Boo Boo Records

Steve Baron, CD Central

Eric Levin, Criminal Records

Pat O'connor, Culture Clash

Dan Plunkett, End Of An Ear

Paula Kret, Exile On Main St

Chris Penn, Good Records

Doyle Davis, Grimey's

Travis Searle, Guestroom Records

Jim Mcguinn, Hot Poop

Isaac Slusarenko, Jackpot Records

Jason Nickey & Heath Byers, Landlocked Music

Todd Robinson, Luna Music

Darren & Jim Blase, Shake It

Anna & Chris Brozek, Slowtrain

Kimber Lanning, Stinkweeds

Tom "Papa" Ray, Vintage Vinyl

Jack Dennis and Christopher Ashely, Earshot

Lisa Tiger-Zhen, Uncle Sams

Dave Zero, Mad City Music Exchange

Sarah Hefte, Everyday Music

Mike Madrigale, Mr. Suit Records

Lance Price, CD Source

Bruce Carlock, Cats Music

Thomas "Toonz" Predovich, Vinyl Solution Records

Neal Becton, Som Records

Marc Lasky, Music Box

Ryan Shoemaker, Galaxy CDs

John Thominet, Rainbow Records

Rick Linie, Creative Leisure

Chris, Young Ones

Morrison Agen, Neat Neat Neat Records and Music

Peter Gianakopoulos, The Old School Records

Reid Robinson, Co-Op Records, Moline

Carol Copfer, Movie Trading Company, Vintage Stock

John Anderson, Reverberation Vinyl

Rob Kimple, Ramalama Records

Randy Wagner, Radio KAOS Records

Sam Lock, CD.Game Exchange

Rob Bourqu, Music Matters

Steve Hyland, Down In the Valley

Melanie Cade, Mojo Books and Music

Tony Cicalese, We Got The Beats

Andy Schneidkraut, Albums on the Hill

Robert Stapleton, Southwest Sound

Sharon & Shirley Bechor, Rock and Soul Records

Rich and Sue Graves, Budget Tapes & Records

Todd Fundaro, Flipside Records

Adam Hirzel, Saki Records

Kelly, Patrick and Robby, Back Door Records

Stacey Pepper, Vertigo Music

Josh Castleberry, Toxic Beauty Records

Lou Romanelli, Music Masters Worldwide

Bill Prue, Metro City Records

Jon Bauer, Budget Music and Video

Russell Reitz, Listen Up Music

Steve Kessler, CD City

Paul MacDougall, PMac Music

John Aleman, Piranha Records

Elle Quintana, Record Breakers

Mark Matarozzo, Spun Music

Gerry Stumbaugh, The Last Record Store

Heather Frarey, The Record Lounge

Scott Wishart, Lunchbox Records

Joe Smith, Joe's Records

Patrick Bailey, Endangered Species

Mary Radakovits, Compact Disc Center

Anaii Lee-Ender & Norbert Ender, Speaking Volumes

Tim Williams, Any Frequency

Doug and Michelle Williams, Bananas Music

Gary Scotti, Scotti's Records

Rick Sinkiewicz and Josh Carlson, Redscroll Records

Pete Majors, Vacation Vinyl

Tom Sampson, Karma

Scott Chase & Lacey Ritter, Renfield Record Exchange

Kurt Jellinek, Slackers Music, Movies, Games

Travis Searle & Justin Sowers, Guestroom Records

Terry and Deon Borchard, The Long Ear

Manny Alferez, Black Pancake Records

Steven Alejandro, Hogwild Records

Jeffrey Burke, The Record Connection

Kurt & Leigh Legler, Warbler Records

Anthony Tedeschi and Chip Heuisler, Tunes

Dal Basi, Phono Select Records

Brian and Sean Reisman, Hideaway Music

Dave Wilkins, Wax Trax

Billy and Melissa Yergensen, Rock Candy Music And More

Jack Dreznes, Beverly Records

Richard G Terzieff, A B CDs/Recorded Memories

Jim Paddock, Size Records

Carl Nordmeier, Tune Town

Dan Matheson, Repo Records

Greg Ellis, Sundance Records

Matt Mona, KA-CHUNK!! Records

Ken Kosta, Spin Records

Bobbie Lewis, Newtown Book & Record Exchange

Ernie Scholl, Everyday Music, Maine

Reed Lappin, In Your Ear

Chris and Bob Roets, Wooden Nickel Music

Warren Hudson, Decatur CD and Vinyl

Tim Cretsinger, Groovacious

Gary Holzenthal, Odyssey Records

Marvin Phillips, Heavenly Daze CDs and Records

Barry Lazarus, Red Devil Records

Scotty Hagan, UHF Music

Rick Tyner, M-Theory Music

Matt and Rock Cesario, Triple Play Records

Maria Armstrong, Lost and Found Records

Brendan Smith, Requests Music

Shirani Rea, Peaches Records

David Elliot, Replay Records

Michael and Denise Roumbanis, dig! Music

Rand Cabus, Mojo Vinyl

Pete Beaudoin, That's Entertainment

Michael Schildgen, Moondog Music

Al Steele, Wyatt Earp Records

Mitch Kirsner, Fantasy

Eve Monsees, Antone's Record Shop

Mik Davis, T-Bones Records & Café

Bernard Vasek, Musicmania

Pete Gulyas, Blue Arrow Records

Alicia Schultz, Sound Revolution

Tom Robbins, Eagle Valley Music & Comics

Brad Richman, Spazz Records

Leonard Silver, Record Theatre

Greg Larsen, Music to the Maxx

Lance Barresi & Liz Tooley, Permanent Records

Mark Kessler, Recycled Records

Aaron Marquez, 360 Vinyl

Jarrett Noel, DiHi Records

Glen Velger, Harmony Records

Ron Hill, Basement Mix

Sanders Henderson, Nikki's Music

Tim Henderson, Joy Of Music

Bernard Vasek, MusicMania

Kelvin Anderson, VIP Records

Dennie Chong & Ward Yamashita, Hungry Ear Records