On one hand, I can sympathize with the record stores. Corporate chains deserve to be out of business, frankly, but smaller independent stores have been a backbone long before chain stores started popping up in shopping malls. Much of those (the ones I’ve come across, anyway) are relatively fair when it comes to pricing and service. It’s a shame they’re being done like this.
I think their ire shouldn’t be directed at Jay-Z or West, though. The label would have made that decision for marketing purposes. We’ve already talked about how Apple is in bed with them now, and Best Buy has had exclusives like this for ages. It’s a common practice that, many times, the artists have nothing to do with. Although, with the stroke that Jay and ‘Ye have, they may be going after the right people after all.
On the other hand, this can also be chalked up to being a sign of the times. CDs have been dying a slow death for years now. The digital marketplace is where the action is happening—once again, a sign of the times. I hope the independent stores never go completely under, but I’m also afraid that the course is already set. Stories like this only serve as a small indicator, too. The future is far from set, but it would not surprise me if we look at this as the record stores having a very valid point, in hindsight, because there may not be any left a few years down the road.