Best Buy = Indie Fail

Indie Music Greed

I don’t often use the blog to rant about the injustices in the music world, but this piece of news struck me as completely ludicrous:

Recent visitors to the official Best Buy site may have noticed a link targeted to unsigned artists, informing them that they have an opportunity to have their album stocked by local stores, if they’re willing to pay–-ahem$250 to get things rolling.

To quantify the charges another way, consider this thought from HypeBot.com:

“…normal industry margins run $3-$6 to the artist after packing, manufacturing and shipping (not including recording and promotion costs) are deducted. At that rate, an indie act would have to sell 40 to 80 CD’s just to recoup its $250 ‘start-up’ cost.”

My own blatant disgust with the idea aside, I’m very curious to hear what other music fans and indie artists have to say about this.  Do you think Best Buy stands to pose a risk to the already-struggling smaller, independent local music retailers or are they too out-of-touch with the indie aesthetic to really matter anyway?

-Shelley Peckham

P.S. Madison is lucky to have a wealth of great independent music shops, staffed by people who are as passionate and knowledgeable about the music they stock as those who seek it out.  Kudos to places like B-Side Records, Mad City Music Exchange, and The Exclusive Company for getting it right! 

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7 Responses

  1. Strictly Discs as well…

    Pay to play, in whatever for in crops up, is nefarious.

  2. Well, I think it’s nothing more than pay to play. Somewhat ironically, if Best Buy actually figured out a way to stock local music at no cost to the artist, it’d be good business for them. Alas, I try and stay away from BBY as much as possible.

  3. I agree that pay-to-play is bad news. That said, I don’t know a lot of indie-music fans that shop there, at least for music. NPR ran an article over the holiday about the closing down of Tower Records, which talked about how the big box stores undercut their prices. That’s their business model, sell it for just low enough to undercut the next guy & make it up on volume. See also: Walmart.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121975854

    I think that anyone still shopping in a record store these days is doing so to support small business, and to support the artists. That, and to chat with fellow music fans. I don’t think Best Buy can compete on that front.

  4. The idea that a big box store would charge for shelf space is ludicrous to me. Does Barnes & Noble charge a newbie author for the right to display a manuscript? Does Target charge the local craft-maker for access to its shelves? Does Woodman’s charge the local farmer for display space?

    This seems like a marketing scheme, pure and simple. Though I misspelled it earlier, pay to play in whatever form it crops up is a bad deal. Best Buy doesn’t care about indie artists…it just hopes to convey the idea that they do.

    Indie artists get discovered lots of ways–word of mouth,blogs, Facebook/MySpace and other social networks…also by touring their asses off…no one is going to get discovered by someone tripping over their CD at Best Buy.

  5. It’s just greed—and poorly disguised greed at that.

    I’m confident that most artists are smart and resourceful enough to make their own way without looking to the biggest store name in town, but it’s just crazy to me that anyone in the Best Buy “think tanks” actually thought this was a good move to begin with. Yikes.

  6. I support indie retail (Mad City & Other Music) and do not support Best Buy. However, arguing that Best Buy, a MAINSTREAM retailer that only stocks the best selling titles (and stocks less of those by the minute), should clutter their shelves with local releases that will sell 0-5 copies makes no sense. I am guessing they charge $250 so they only get serious inquiries – and if you can’t sell enough CDs to cover the $250 fee, your CD should not be stocked at Best Buy in the first place.

    Sorry, Indie retail is where local music belongs until demand says otherwise…

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