Warner kills Estelle by pulling songs from Apple’s iTunes Store in attempt to force album sales

“British R&B star Estelle has seen her single American Boy plummet down the US chart after her latest album, Shine, was taken off iTunes in the States,” BBC News reports.

“Record label Warner made the move to force fans to buy the whole album, not just individual songs, reports said,” The Beeb reports. “Single American Boy, featuring Kanye West, was a UK number one in March.”

“It was in the iTunes top 10 in the US before its removal. It was also at 11 on the official Billboard singles chart – but has now dropped to number 37,” The Beeb reports. “The song has also fallen from number six to 59 on the Billboard download chart.”

“Meanwhile, Shine, which is nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in the UK, has dropped to number 159 on the Billboard album rundown,” The Beeb reports.

“She is signed to the same label as Kid Rock, who insisted that his hit single All Summer Long and album Rock ‘n’ Roll Jesus were kept off iTunes in the US,” The Beeb reports. “But the album still reached number one, selling 1.7 million copies.”

“That has led Warner to explore whether fans of other artists could be persuaded to buy the whole album, according to the the Wall Street Journal,” The Beeb reports. “That is more lucrative to labels and artists than if just a few songs were picked to download from iTunes, which does not allow albums to be sold only in whole.”

The Beeb reports, “A Warner spokesman told the paper the removal of Shine from iTunes was part of a broad range of strategies ‘uniquely tailored to each artist and their fanbase in an effort to optimise revenues and promote long-term artist development,'”

Full article here.

Translation of Warner’s statement from Bullshitese to English:

The removal of “Shine” from iTunes Store was part of a broad range of strategies whereby we use Apple’s store to identify currently popular songs, then immediately pull them and attempt to force bundle sales of artificial constructs that we like to call “albums” in order to couch the bundling process within a term that we’ve conditioned the public to believe is “art.”

We hope to get much more cash for blow by forcing people to pay 10 times what they would’ve for the song they like by bundling 10 or so filler songs that nobody was buying anyway; like the good ol’ CD days of the 80s and 90s. Hey, it worked for Kid Rock. We think. Unless we forced so many free downloads via P2P that we actually screwed ourselves while also waking up the few remaining people who didn’t realize that we are greedy, devious scumbags who think we’re smarter than our customers and who could give a rat’s ass about fans, artists or anything else that doesn’t offer the possibility of adding more cash to our own pockets.

We hope people don’t begin to believe that it’s perfectly okay for them to “steal” from extortionist scumbags or we’ll be even more screwed than we are now, if that’s even possible.

50 Comments

  1. Apple,
    now is the time. Allow artists to distribute directly with you and iTunes. No need for the labels.

    The labels will disappear overnight and so will their greedy business practices.

  2. Kid Rock had an existing fan base so he had a much higher likelihood of success. On the other hand, Estelle is a relative newcomer with one hit song and is an unproven talent – she hasn’t had enough time or experience to earn the trust of a large loyal fan base.

    Warner definitely has an ego to think that people will buy the music just because it’s them. Estelles are a dime a dozen and will be replaced by the next newcomer who decides to play it smart and maximize their exposure opportunities as well as revenue stream by being on iTunes et al.

    The idiocy of the record labels will be their demise.

  3. @MacNScott

    Apple started allowing independent artists to distribute their music on iTunes last year.

    However, if an artist is signed to a label, the artist has to abide to their contract. At that point, it is up to the label and there is nothing Apple can do, or want to unilaterally do, to circumvent it.

    Keep in mind, MOST independent artists will never reach the success levels of those signed to the big labels. As the axiom states, “Money makes money,” is well exampled in the recording business.

  4. This is funny because a friend of mine (honestly not me) just remarked the other day that she got that song of Kid Rock’s off of Limewire after trying to purchase it on iTunes and not being able to find it.

    Her words, almost verbatim, “I’m not going to drive to (expletive) Wal-Mart in the middle of the day just for a song.”

    But don’t worry. I’m sure she’s the ONLY one.

  5. Almost right MDN, but I wouldn’t always refer to albums as being ‘artificial constructs’. Case in point, Pink Floyd’s The Wall is a better experience if you listen to the whole album rather than just the singles.

    I can see from an artist perspective that not delivering the entire album could compromise their vision of the piece.

    And from a consumer perspective how many times have you bought a full CD because of the single you liked but ended up loving each and every track in its own right?

    I 100% agree with your call on Warner acting like idiots — it’s funny to watch these guys suicide in public.

  6. @MacNScott,

    I was just gonna say, Gee I wonder who’s gonna get sued over this.

    A deluge of artists all suing at about the same time would probably begin to put this to rest.

  7. Good job Warner, way to go, I’m sure the artist is really happy that you killed her earnings! Remember people, don’t buy albums from Warner! What a bunch of IDIOTS!!!
    Kid Rock SUCKS!!!!! LOOSER!!!

  8. @Macaday
    I just searched “Snow Patrol” on the iTunes Store.

    I can purchase all of the tracks individually at 99¢ a piece.

    A bonus track and a digital booklet comes free if one purchases the whole album.

    I’m not forced to buy the whole album to get just one of the tracks.

    I’m trying to figure out your point above.

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