I recently stumbled across an interesting article at NYTimes.com about major artists releasing records through deals made with Walmart. I never really realized something as simple as this could have consequences for the industry. When The Eagles released their new two-disc album,Long Road Out of Eden, exclusively with the retailer this past fall for the low-price of $11.98 I though it was a great way to hinder people from downloading the music for free.
Now others from the classic rock band Journey to teen country sensation Taylor Swift have followed suite, negotiating deals exclusively with Walmart. Journey’s 3-disc set Revelation includes two CDs with 11 songs each and a DVD. Like The Eagles CD it also sells for $11.98. An amazing price, considering that’s cheaper than some one disc albums go for at other retailers. I think this definitely helps to increase CD sales, I’d expect an album containing 2 discs and a DVD to sell for double that price or more. The low price and multiple disc approach worked well for The Eagles, who sold 711,000 copies of their album within the first week of its release.
However, such deals have a negative effect, unforeseen to me before I read the article “For Some Music, It Has to be Walmart and Nowhere Else” by Robert Levine. When artists release albums exclusively through Walmart they no longer have to deal with record labels. This is good for artists, who end up making more money off their record sales (which probably makes this option a more tempting one for them). Afterall, other artists such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have taken a similar approach, releasing albums themselves online without the help of labels. With the industry and power of record labels already declining because of digital downloads I wonder what kind of effect this will have on the industry. Do you think high CD sales are good for the music industry even if it means cutting traditional record labels out of the picture? Or do you think these exclusive Walmart deals (or artists self-releasing albums themselves for that matter) will only lead to further decline in the industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!