Yet another recording artist has gone to the dark side. Bruce Springsteen’s new album will be released as a Wal-mart exclusive.
Sure, there are pros. The process of releasing directly from musician to distributor, in some cases, enables the band to both reap a greater profit from the release and price the product at a more consumer-friendly price. You can buy an album for $12.
Big deal. My time and integrity are worth something, too.
I purely detest shopping at Wal-mart for a multitude of reasons. When Walmart moves into a community, they drop prices and hurt local business – when competition is gone, they raise prices again to the prevailing market rate. The least-price-product model means limited variety of low quality – lots of trinkets and trash. The company pays below-poverty-level wages and its employees are, in Washington, the single largest consumer of state Medicaid services. And on a personal level, the store is incredibly inconvenient, crowded, cluttered and dirty, with undertrained and overworked staff – shopping there is a fairly unpleasant experience.
Janiece said it best with her “E” avatar:
One does not simply walk into Walmart. There is evil there that does not sleep.
This trend of releasing directly and exclusively to Walmart is disturbing. These artists will NOT be getting my business. The first three pages of a Google search on “wal-mart exclusive music” indicates that they include:
- Bruce Springsteen
- AC/DC (ok, I caved there, but shouldn’t have)
- Garth Brooks
- Josh Groban
- Carrie Underwood
- Taylor Swift
- Keith Urban
What this means for them is that their music cannot be downloaded. (This was part of AC/DC’s objective – they feel that single-song downloads hurt the album-as-art-form.) It can’t be sold by independent music stores. It can’t be easily purchased by those with no Wal-mart in their community, although Wal-mart does have an online, e-commerce interface like any other giant retailer.
Interestingly enough, there are reports of some independent music stores buying up albums by these artists at Walmart and reselling them at minimal markup, unopened, in their own store, just so they can offer their customers a complete artist’s oeuvre.
I can’t believe that anti-competitive, exclusive deals are, in the end, good for the consumer, no matter what the current price point looks like.