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Kanye West, Jay-Z Criticized for Watch the Throne Sales Strategy

Indie retailers are pleading with Jay-Z and Kanye West – now collectively known as The Throne – to re-think plans to offer exclusive sales windows of Watch the Throne to Best Buy and digital giant iTunes.

As previously reported, the highly-anticipated collaborative album is due out everywhere on August 12, but will be available exclusively on iTunes on August 8. The deluxe version of the CD will be sold exclusively at Best Buy until August 23.

According to Billboard, independent retailers have written an open letter to the superstar duo, calling the move a “short-sighted strategy” that will do “great damage to over 1,700 independent record stores — stores that have supported you and your music for years.”

“A two-week window will be disastrous for music retailers,” said Eric Levin, owner of Criminal Records and head of the Alliance of Independent Media Stores, about Best Buy’s exclusive hold on the deluxe album for nearly two weeks.

Others told Billboard that offering exclusives doesn’t benefit the buyer.

“Label executives forget what is convenient for the customer,” said Carl Mello, head of purchasing for Newbury Comics. “Making the album available in certain versions at certain times is not the most friendly thing for the customer, for whom it will feel like a game of hide and seek.”

Indie retailers say the exclusive windows will allow already massive companies to rake in the majority of album sales, harming the industry as a whole.

“This may work for Jay-Z,” said a retailer who asked to remain anonymous, “but he is hurting all the other retailers and this will affect the entire industry.” —Lauren Carter

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