Independent record stores are protesting hip-hop overlords Jay-Z and Kanye West’s decision to release their upcoming collaborative LP, Watch the Throne, over iTunes before a physical edition hits the stores.
Due for physical release on August 12, Watch the Throne, which is almost guaranteed to be an enormous hit, will debut on iTunes four days earlier on August 8.
According to Pitchfork, the organisation behind the massively successful Record Store Day event have been rallying support from thousands of local Ma and Pa record stores in an effort to stop Jay-Z and Yeezy from giving preferential treatment to Apple’s music monolith.
In its open letter, soon to be published in Billboard magazine, the collective states that the exclusive digital pre-release will damage an already-struggling industry, one that’s supported both rappers’ music for many 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,” reads the letter. “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 campaign comes as digital sales eclipse physical ones, although Record Store Day ¬– which sees artists make limited edition releases and in-store appearances – has had some real success, pushing the initiative worldwide and boosting the US music industry by eight percent.
What do you think? Should iTunes users get to hear Watch the Throne first, or should artists support independent record stores over digital sales? Post your thoughts in the comments below.