Eagles Disintermediate Major Labels, ITMS


The Eagles — the multi-platinum selling alt country/rock band circa 1970s — are trying an interesting sales strategy for their first studio album in 28 years.

For the new disc, it appears that there is:

– no recording label participation;
– downloads at their site only;
– physical 2-CD Set purchased only at Wal-Mart, or ordered at their site ((Eaglesband.com).


The band cranked out over 700,000 discs in the first week — not too shabby for a double disc.

For you young ‘uns, the album Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975 is the all time best-selling album in the U.S. (according to the RIAA); Their album Hotel California is #18 on the all time top selling list).

What’s really interesting is the downloading — the double disc is available for in two formats: MP3 256k for $10.88, and in FLAC lossless for $11.88, directly from the band’s website. 

I am not sure, but it appears that both the labels and Apple’s iTunes have been cut out of the picture.

(I’ll update this as I learn more)


Update: November 7, 2007 5:52am

The Eagles made a
direct exclusive deal with Wal-Mart for physical album — no label involved.

The band
sold the album to Wal-Mart on a one-way basis (meaning, no returns). 

1_hotel_californiaMy anonymous industry source adds:

"If memory
serves, I believe they bought 3.6M units at $8 or $9.  The Band pays
manufacturing costs and publishing (most of which goes to themselves as writers)
and keeps the rest. Pretty nice haul. I haven’t confirmed with the
manager, but I believe the downloads are being done by the band through their
site only."

Again, no iTunes, no labels . . .




Top 100 Albums   

Revised Chart Policy Lands Eagles At No. 1
Mitchell Peters
Billboard, November 06, 2007, 8:30 PM ET


JT bypasses the Labels   


Track Listing:

Disc One:
01 No More Walks In The Wood
02 How Long
03 Busy Being Fabulous
04 What Do I Do With My Heart
05 Guilty Of The Crime
06 I Don’t Want To Hear Anymore
07 Waiting In The Weeds
08 No More Cloudy Days
09 Fast Company
10 Do Something
11 You Are Not Alone

Disc Two:
12 Long Road Out Of Eden
13 I Dreamed There Was No War
14 Somebody
15 Frail Grasp On The Big Picture
16 Last Good Time In Town
17 I Love To Watch A Woman Dance
18 Business As Usual
19 Center Of The Universe
20 It’s Your World Now

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Internet Marketing Blog commented on Nov 6

    I want to get this record for my Mother. This will be my first trip to Walmart in over a year.

  2. dryfly commented on Nov 6

    I want to get this record for my Mother. This will be my first trip to Walmart in over a year.

    I was there 28 years ago – I can wait another 28 years thank you.

  3. dark1p commented on Nov 7

    The kings of bland return once more to anesthetize the undemanding. Next, America will stage a powerhouse comeback. And then, Jackson Browne and James Taylor will team up to make elevators even sleepier than they are.

    These guys make Jim Croce sound like metal. Can’t they just retire and fade mellowly into the California twilight?

    Well, at least all the discs will provide amusement for skeet shooters of the near future.

  4. rob commented on Nov 7

    The Dude is not pleased by this development.

  5. Matt Levin commented on Nov 7

    I’ve had a rough night, and I hate the fucking Eagles, man.

  6. justin commented on Nov 7

    Wow! were getting a little too serious about something…if everyone had to like the same music we would still be listening to the wolves howl… peace, love and happiness.

  7. ken h commented on Nov 7

    Same old crap repackaged. I’m in my 40’s and would rather stick a pencil in my eye than listen to hotel California again.

    FYI, I think I heard they were using Jackson Brown and Garfunkel music to torture the inmates at Guantanimo. Poor guys!

    My kids have nothing to listen too. There is know imagination in Motown any longer. They need to let the musicians drop acid again so maybe we can get some decent music.

    As far as the idea. It’s a good one. They have the ability to manage their own music so why use a middleman? Margins are much smaller and their just isn’t any room for pump jockeys.

  8. Steve commented on Nov 7

    What’s the most interesting thing to me is that they are not just having MP3 downloads but FLAC downloads as well. Typically only bands that allow taping (Grateful Dead, Hornsby, Phish) are into that kind of thing.

  9. Greg0658 commented on Nov 7

    Not happy with the Wal*Mart exclusive.
    I understand the download exclusive.

    Record stores helped build The Eagles brand.

    As for some … Any time you generalize your punking, but I find the kids music very hard to plunk $s down on. Hang in there John Mayer and John Ondrasik (5forFighting). Stay off the hard stuff.

  10. Andy commented on Nov 7

    I’m surprised it took the Eagles to figure out that you can burn your own CDs and find a wide distribution channel to push it through. I would be shocked if Amazon wasn’t already trying to figure out a way to get in the game on an even larger scale than one artist/one album. A massive indie distribution channel where the artist can just upload the bits and booklet (in PDF format?) to Amazon and Amazon burns the CD and prints the booklets on demand?

  11. Greg0658 commented on Nov 7

    advice to Sam Goody – have a employee cross the mall lot every few days, buy a couple copies to put in your racks, add two bucks, for folks that won’t buy it at Wal*Mart on principle

  12. salvage commented on Nov 7


    Too bad the album is terrible.

  13. r€nato commented on Nov 7

    hey, don’t dis the Eagles… their old stuff is great road trip music.

    Other than that… strictly a nostalgia act for boomers who want to relive their coke-and-pot-fueled 1970s.

    Eagles know their audience has aged, why else the Wal-Mart exclusive? Screw that.

    I’m not sure how this distribution model would work for non-stadium acts, but it’s a good sign (except for the Wally world thing). Screw the record labels, they have been parasites forever and it’s nice to see them get cut out.

  14. gob commented on Nov 7

    As Mojo Nixon told us:

    “Don Henly Must Die!

    Don’t let him get back together

    with Glenn Frye!”

    These guys are so mediocre and boring. And Walmart still sucks. Fuck them.

  15. r€nato commented on Nov 7

    promotion is the key… if you’re not the Eagles, if you’re an up-and-coming band, how do you get everyone to notice you if a record label isn’t involved, paying off radio stations to play you and music ‘journalists’ to write about you?

    There’s guerrilla marketing like putting up a cool music video on YouTube, or getting Apple to put your song in an iPod spot, but other than that, it’s still hard to beat the record labels for promotion to the mass audience.

  16. Lindsey commented on Nov 7

    Radiohead also did a website release of their new record, and told fans to pay what they wanted. I think they made some ridiculous sum like $8M on the first day.

    And, as crazy as this sounds, at the age of 44, I have never been in a WalMart. I don’t plan on visiting anytime, ever.

  17. Mr Blifil commented on Nov 7

    Very few bands would have the kind of deep pockets the Eagles have to process multiple purchases to the tune of several hundred thousand in a few days. That takes servers, customer support for screw-ups, etc. I’m glad the Eagles are sticking it to the middle men they’ve spent their careers deriding, but the fact is that iTunes is a good deal for most bands because of the technical challenges of serving millions of customers.

    Though in 10 years or so the technology will probably be cheap enough that it’ll get more interesting.

  18. PSP commented on Nov 7

    As mojo nixon said: “Don Henley must die”

    It is the only just punishment for that crap

  19. Carl from L.A. commented on Nov 7

    Going from the record companies to the most loathsome retailer in the country- way to go, boys. Can’t you do better than that?

  20. craig commented on Nov 7

    Sure, it’s harder for smaller bands to promote themselves, but when the “music industry” (plastic disc manufacturing and distribution cartel) finally has a stake driven through its heart, there may actually be publicists that bands could hire for a reasonable amount.

    General Motors doesn’t have to give its ad agency 98 percent of its profits plus sign over all of its patents.

  21. TimesAreAChangin’ commented on Nov 7

    The Radiohead giveaway resulted in around 45% of people paying $0, and still they made money….instantly.

    I don’t agree with the ShiteMart move, but absolutely order the CD from the website and cut out ShiteMart altogether.

  22. sshan25 commented on Nov 7

    I hate your fucking music. I hate you. I am cooler and more discriminating than any of you. Why? Because I said so. No go download that crappy Radiohead album and then die.

  23. Poncho & Lefty commented on Nov 7

    WalMart??? Wow. How did they decide that deal. If it was just pricing they wanted to keep down I think they should have given Borders the exclusive retail package.

  24. Poncho & Lefty commented on Nov 7

    WalMart??? Wow. How did they decide that deal. If it was just pricing they wanted to keep down I think they should have given Borders the exclusive retail package.

  25. Poncho & Lefty commented on Nov 7

    WalMart??? Wow. How did they decide that deal. If it was just pricing they wanted to keep down I think they should have given Borders the exclusive retail package.

  26. Poncho & Lefty commented on Nov 7

    WalMart??? Wow. How did they decide that deal. If it was just pricing they wanted to keep down I think they should have given Borders the exclusive retail package.

  27. Poncho & Lefty commented on Nov 7

    WalMart??? Wow. How did they decide that deal. If it was just pricing they wanted to keep down I think they should have given Borders the exclusive retail package.

  28. N’Gai Croal commented on Nov 7

    Plenty of room at the Hotel California, but not for record labels–or iTunes

    High Score

  29. Ken Houghton commented on Nov 7

    So let’s ballpark it at $30MM paid by Wal-Mart for an exclusive on those songs until the next live album (Farewell Tour II) comes out in late 2008.

    Even the Eagles, notorious for studio overproduction, probably made money on that deal. Downloading from the website is lagniappe.

    (Or is it the other way around? Someone ask Radiohead again.)

  30. RockGolf commented on Nov 7

    Actually, based on the RIAA website, Hotel California is 12th on the all-time list, not 18th. Reason is that 2CD or 2-album sets count as two units, so sales for Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Garth Brooks’s Double Live, Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits I & II, The Beatles (known better as the Double White album), Led Zep’s Physical Graffiti and Beatles 67-70 are realistically half of what is shown.

    It also means that Abbey Road & Sgt Pepper each sold much better than the double white album.

  31. Greg0658 commented on Nov 7

    Hey Jude – its a fool who makes his world a little colder

    I forget sometimes too … pushing the move forward

  32. MAS (Seattle) commented on Nov 7

    Speaking of music from the 1970s, XM Radio starts an all LED ZEPPELIN channel tomorrow (59). Not sure if it will be on DirecTV.

    XM Led

  33. musoscribe commented on Nov 7

    The good news is, another well-deserved stake in the heart of the majors.

    The bad news is, a shitty, lame-ass band like The Eagles is doing it.

    The worse news is, the most evil retailer in the world is involved.

  34. CBQ commented on Nov 7

    In the UK you can buy the Eagles 2CD set anywhere for around £9-£10 ($18-$20) which compares favourably with most new releases (£13-£15). No “exclusive distribution/download only otherwise” deal over here.

    Like the Radiohead deal – which is very nice in principal – this business model won’t work for unestablished bands with no big bucks to spend on PR.

    Re Radiohead – Giving away your music for free – surely it devalues your product? Fans will expect oto get the next release for free too – and are no doubt hoping more bands go down this route until all music is free.


    I’m open to your views though.

  35. Max Thrax commented on Nov 7

    My 2 cents: I don’t like the Eagles. They are irrelevant. I like Nine Inch Nails. Nine Inch Nails is relevant. NIN just left Interscope after greatly pissing them off by putting their new release in streaming format in its entirety at nin.com 2 weeks prior to release, and urging fans to illegally download a couple months later after discovering wildly over priced NIN cds in Australia.

    Trent Reznor just produced a release in which he collaborated w/ hip hop/spoken word artist Saul Williams which you can download for free at 192Kbps, for 5 bucks you get 320Kbps MP3 and/or FLAC lossless as well as the original tracks to remix if you like. I’m not 100% in love w/ the first half of Niggy Stardust, but the last half is absolutely amazing. I think this is the new model. Reznor understands that the artist is going to make the lion’s share of profit in touring and in merchandise. The labels do one thing and one thing only now…they sell music to soccer moms and their tween daughters. Jimmy Iovine, one time champion of important music is now spending his time cultivating the career of the Pussycat Dolls…nuff said.

  36. Ray Radlein commented on Nov 7

    For folks who quite reasonably point out that Radiohead and The Eagles are acts with a huge established fan base, and wonder how smaller artists could disintermediate the record labels, it’s worth noting that there are hints that social networking sites such as MySpace and Friendster are beginning to act as sorts of recommendation aggregators for smaller bands.

    Obviously, this relatively new development is nowhere near being ready to cut the record industry out of its own equations, but it is one possible avenue for such in the future.

  37. Rod commented on Nov 7

    “I think this is the new model. Reznor understands that the artist is going to make the lion’s share of profit in touring and in merchandise.”

    Sorry for my English but this is typical american. Music is not anymore an artistic expression, musicians like me have to do a “tour” and “sell merchandise”, how ironic y decadent. I could’t imagine Mozart or Bach “touring and selling mugs with their picture!

    We have a problem here. If the music is not ‘sellable’ fine. If it sells good, but please let us musicians alone to express ourselves!

    Most of the work of the Beatles was a studio work and they sold. Famous and “rich” musicians around the world (not in the US) have lived they lives working a second job and “selling” their music too !

    Internet is a blessing for photographers, musicians, etc. Never in the history of music so much music has been sold as in 2007 ! So these are good times.

    Nobody needs to do “touring” or sell “merchandise”, dress like a clown, behave like an idiot, hire a “publicist” etc. If your music is good , soon or later is going to speak for itself.

    We musicians are only the ‘medium’ between the people and the sound of the spheres. So please no labels, clowns, merchandise , touring, or whatever.


    A musician making a living with his music. Thanks God.

  38. Max Thrax commented on Nov 7

    Well Rod, that’s the difference between sidewalk musicians like yourself and people like Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor. They just reach a lot more people, in large part because they are genius level musicians. I said established musicians make the lion’s share of profits from touring and merchandising from touring because, well, it’s obvious fact. Sorry it upsets you so. BTW, I think the business model has changed substantially since the 1700s…back to the commune you go!

  39. me commented on Nov 8

    “Not happy with the Wal*Mart exclusive.”

    So when the Rolling Stones and others did a Best Buy exclusive was that OK?

    NIN sucks but Iron Maiden rules (and of course Rush).

    But seriously I think Barry’s point was about the economics of the record labels continually killing their own business. Its like with DRM, some hacker will come along and crack it. Now, with technology, bands can do it.

    I bought the album and for a double disk I think there are only a couple tunes worth it, but their crossover appeal will sell, and did sell.

    Hotel California by Barney Hoskyns was a good read.

  40. slouch commented on Nov 8

    Mr. Ritholtz, IMHO you’re insights into business are brilliant, but your musical compass is SKEWED at best!

    The Eagles an alt-country band? Huh?! And this from a guy who finds the Byrds irrelevant? I’m flabbergasted.

  41. Pnotunr commented on Nov 8

    Wow! I’m really surprised there are so many Eagles haters. A band does not have the best selling album of all time by being mediocre. This would also apply to MJ’s “Thriller”, a previous contender. It’s a great album despite the fact that the musician got extremely weird soon after. Eagles has put out an excellent album at an excellent price. I think it’s an outstanding endeavor.

    (FYI, there is no “The” in front of Eagles, Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane. No one says “The Cream”, “The Traffic” or “The Poco”, but they often add that “The” to the bands mentioned above.)

    Now if you want to talk about Wal-Mart, that’s a different story. I saw my own home town destroyed by one of their stores. If you’re a fan, go out and rent “Wal-Mart-The High Cost Of Low Prices”. Although I’m still trying to clean the dirt out of my fingernails, I did purchase my copy of Eagles new album from them by mail. First purchase in years. I should have paid the extra money and bo7ught it from the Eagles site.


  42. Greg0658 commented on Nov 8

    I mentioned my post to my Sam Goody manager (its FYI or something now) she thought my idea would be illegal. ie: Buy at WalMart, jack up the price and put on the shelf for resale. How? I know a blend of laws exist for liquor, but for recorded matter?

  43. Rod commented on Nov 8

    “Well Rod, that’s the difference between sidewalk musicians like yourself and people like Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor”by Max Anthrax.

    Well my friend, first of all,god bless sidewalk musicians, I haven’t been one in my whole life, but I would like to have that experience, my respect to all of them.

    What can I say about me is that at age of 22 I signed with a major in my country (EMI records), at the same time that I was finishing my degree in the university.

    Now I live in NY (thanks to my music! ), having a really goooood living !, and problably you have heard my music in more than one american movie.

    Who are those guys, Yorke and Reznor? None of the musicians that I asked know who they are.

    Oh, well, back to work, but one thing is clear, no prostitution for real musos, no touring, no dressing like a clown, behave like a stupid, no selling merchandise, and you can make a nice living, and enjoying every morning the view of Central Park from your apartment window.

    Have a nice day.


    (A happy musician, husband and father)

  44. discarded lies – hyperlinkopotamus commented on Nov 8

    Eagles kick record industry to the curb, make exclusive deal with Wal-Mart to distribute new studio album

    Eagles kick record industry to the curb, make exclusive deal with Wal-Mart to distribute new studio album

  45. JasRas commented on Nov 11

    Wow, I got my first listen of this album-musically not bad, lyrically friggin’ depressing and two-faced. These guys pine away about “business as usual” and disdain capitalism and consumption in their lyrics, but I have never read of a more greedy group of artists. Being able to cut out the labels is truly Henley’s, Frey’s, etc. dream come true…mo’ money for them while they chastise their listeners for what things have become…

  46. Amy commented on Nov 17

    Why WalMart? Because they have stores everywhere the Eagles fans are (in the US anyway). I hate WalMart too, but the reality is, they have the distribution in place that a band like the Eagles need in order to make cutting out the majors work. Going with Borders, or even Best Buy would not get them into a lot of markets in small town America where they are very popular. Face facts people, WalMart obliterated independent businesses in small towns across this country years ago–‘the war is over, they won’. And it’s not as if corporate chains like Borders, Best Buy, Sam Goody or any other music-only chain (are there still any?) are such outstanding citizens. If the prospect of shopping at WalMart is that offensive to you (and I do understand the sentiment) then buy it from the Eagles’ website. But castigating the band for making a smart business move to maximize the potential for success of their album, at a time when it is harder than ever for any artist to pull that off, is just stupid. Every artist wants people to hear their music and this deal was the best way to get into the hands of the people who would be most receptive to it. There’s no need to string the band up by their toenails for being great artists who are also smart businessmen–or at least smart enough to hire a very smart manager. That must be why they inspire so much hatred and jealousy.

  47. Nelson Breland commented on Feb 8

    Center of the Universe is one of the best songs I have ever listened to. I cannot get enough of it. The only problem is I cannot hear all of the ending lyrics. Is it possible to recieve a score of the words for this song.

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