A letter has been sent to record labels

The global independent retail industry seeks to end the exclusivity window for direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales on physical products. Stores such as Amoeba Records, Rough Trade, and Zia Records, have sent an open letter to music executives asking them to end the practice as it hurts their business by creating a privilege for certain consumers over others.

“As stakeholders in the vibrant and diverse music industry, we – the undersigned members of the global music independent retail industry – appreciate the efforts put forth by record labels in nurturing talent, producing quality music, and ensuring its distribution to eager audiences worldwide. Your dedication to fostering creativity and sharing artistic expression enriches our cultural landscape and enhances our lives in countless ways,” the letter reads.

“However, we are writing to you today with a plea for reconsideration of a practice that has become increasingly common within the industry: preselling new music releases exclusively via your artist/label Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) channels, before making them available for wider (independent) retail community to offer. While we understand the commercial ‘first to market’ advantage benefit it provides yourselves, it ultimately undermines the principles of fairness, inclusivity, and accessibility that are fundamental to the spirit of music itself.

“Music is a universal language that transcends boundaries and brings people together. It serves as a source of solace, inspiration, and joy for individuals from all walks of life. As such, we firmly believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity to access and enjoy the latest releases from their favorite artists.

“By restricting pre-sale opportunities to yourselves, record labels create a two-tiered system that privileges certain consumers over others. This not only fosters feelings of exclusion and frustration among music enthusiasts but also perpetuates inequalities within the industry. Independent retailers, in particular, are disproportionately affected by this practice, as they often lack the resources and negotiating power to compete with larger chains or online platforms.

“Moreover, exclusive pre-selling arrangements hinder the collective celebration and anticipation that surrounds the release of new music. Music is meant to be shared and experienced communally, fostering a sense of connection and belonging among fans. When pre-sales are initially limited to just the artist/label stores, this sense of community is greatly diminished, and the overall impact of the release is diminished.

“Therefore, we urge you to reconsider the current approach to pre-selling music releases and to embrace a more inclusive and equitable retail model. By making new releases available for presale to all retailers simultaneously with D2C, you not only level the playing field for businesses of all sizes but also reaffirm your commitment to serving the interests of music lovers everywhere.

“In conclusion, we recognize the challenges and complexities inherent in the music industry, and we commend your ongoing efforts to adapt and innovate in response to evolving trends and technologies.

“However, we believe that true progress is measured not only by financial success but also by the values we uphold and the impact we have on society as a whole. Let us work together to ensure that the joy of music remains accessible to all.

“Thank you for your attention to this important matter.”

Signatories include A2IM membership, AFK Books & Records, Amoeba Music, Boo Boo Records, Bull Moose, Cactus, CD Central, Central Square, Criminal Records, Culture Clash, Curious Collections, Daddy Kool Records, Darkside Records, Dearborn Records, Down in the Valley, Easy Street, Electric Fetus, End of an Ear, Exile on Main Street, Fingerprints, Gallery of Sound, Graywhale, Grimey’s New and Preloved Music, Guestroom Records – Louisville/Oklahoma, Homer’s, Hot Poop, Indy CD & Vinyl, Jackpot Records, Landlocked Music, Lilliput Records, Looney Tunes, Luna Music, M-Theory Music, Magnolia Thunderpussy, Mobius Records, Music Millennium, Newbury Comics, Omega Music, Park Ave CD, Plan 9, Pure Pop, Radio-active Records, Reckless Records, Record Archive, Record Exchange, Rockin’ Rudy’s, Rough Trade, Rust & Wax, Seasick Records, Schoolkids Records, Shake It Records, Silver Platters, Stinkweeds, Streetlight Records, The End of All Music, The Long Ear, The Sound Garden, Tunes, Twist and Shout, UHF, Vertigo Music, Vintage Vinyl, Volume Music, Waiting Room Records, Waterloo Records and Video, We Got The Beats, Young Ones, and Zia Records.

These stores are among those that participate in the annual Record Store Day and Back to Black Friday events, offering exclusive and first pressings. The events occur each spring and fall and are often credited with saving record stores.