Thursday, March 5, 2009

Neko Case to Fans, Indie Stores: F*** You

Do NOT buy the new Neko Case record. At least, don't buy it at Best Buy. I was at one of the few independent record stores in DC looking to buy Ms. Case's latest, Middle Cyclone. They didn't have it. The reason? Her label, ANTI-, struck up a deal with the IKEA of consumer electronics to buy and distribute the album in mass volume. Best Buy is now selling the album for $7.99. This sale will be going on for two weeks. This would be fine if it wasn't for one thing. In those two weeks you probably won't see Middle Cyclone at most decent record stores because right now ANTI- is offering to sell it to independent record stores for $11.99. Therefore, if they wanted to compete with Best Buy, they'd only have to lose $4 a pop. Not bad, huh? Some people are going to laugh this off as not a big deal, something that happens all the time. Well, let me just say, it's usually not this extreme ($7.99?!), it doesn't happen all the time, and it's a growing trend amongst labels and artists that want the "cred" of being under the "indie" umbrella, but don't want to act the part. Given their past, I was surprised Pitchfork and some of the other outlets haven't reported on this, but then I remembered they tend to protect the artists they like. So shame on you, ANTI-. And shame on you, Neko Case. Rest assured, we'll have more on this soon. But I wanted to get an emergency red-faced rant in first. Now that I have, let me leave you with this quote from the queen pornographer herself:

"I hope I can comfort people a bit—maybe show people that making music is fun and accessible to them as well. I'm not out to become Faith Hill, I never want to play an arena, and I never want to be on the MTV Video Music Awards, much less make a video with me in it. I would like to reach a larger audience and see the state of music change in favor of musicians and music fans in my lifetime. I care very much about that."




Brian said...

Well, it sounds like Ms. Case is changing the state of music "in favor of musicians." So that's half her goal accomplished.

Even though this situation smacks of bullying and strongarming, if I'm being honest, I don't think it's all that shady. The deep discount/promotion is for a finite time, and after it's over the record sells at regular price everywhere, right? Records are always a dollar or two more expensive at independent stores, and I think the type of people who would buy Neko Case's new record at an independent store would probably buy it there anyway, regardless of whatever promotion Best Buy is doing.

Alex said...

I don't think it's shady, just terrible. But I'll challenge your last assertion. A lot of people would rather buy the record at BB for $7.99 than an indie for $14.99. And a lot of indie's won't even shelve it for awhile just knowing they can't compete.

I don't mind ANTI- doing what they are doing, so long as they give other stores the opportunity. If you want BB to sell it for $7.99, fine. But sell it to others so they can make a profit at $9.99 - $10.99. And btw, the argument, that no one is above reproach in this matter is wrong. Secretly Canadian did this once with Antony & the Johnsons, saw their error, and vowed to never do it again. Same with T&G with regards to TV on the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They do have the option.

*A little clarification, ANTI- is offering to sell the record to indie stores for $11.99. That means they would have to sell it for $12.99 just to make a $1 profit, which is still $5 more than the BB cost.

Travis said...

I think I agree with Brian about the people who would buy Neko Case at an independent record store are going to do so regardless of the Best Buy deal, because those people are doing so out of principle, because if price is the driving force behind their purchase, let's face it, indie music fans are internet savvy enough to know they can get the album for free.

Now if the deal involved Vinyl (which, I don't believe Best Buy carries...for now), I would see the move as more of a FU on ANTI-'s part.

Alex said...

Yeah, but, I think some of you are missing the point which is that if Crooked Beat is representative of most indie stores, and I would bet that it is, that means a lot of stores probably aren't even stocking the CD in the first place. So the option isn't even really there. At least, for the first two weeks...which is when most albums move the most copies.

lil' elF said...

For Crooked Beat not to stock the copy is foolish. Are they going to wait another two weeks when the album will still be the same price? What is the point? Makes me want to go to Best Buy.

Alex said...

That's a decent question, Valpo. I guess. People will still buy a CD at a record store vs. Best Buy when it's a difference of $2-$3. When you're talking $7.99 vs. $14.99, it's a whole new ballgame.

Again, I don't put the blame on Best Buy, but rather ANTI-, and Neko Case. CB does most of their business through vinyl anyway, so no reason to stock a CD when it's not going to be commercially viable to do so. Best Buy has conquered the CD market. I salute them. I wonder how long it will take before they go into the vinyl business. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to ponder this scary thought while I run across the street to Starbucks to pick up Middle Cyclone.

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