Posts Tagged ‘sufjan stevens’

if anything, lattes should be more expensive.

18 November 2010

a representative from the record label asthmatic kitty responded to the email i recently sent them about the music industry, particularly the prices of albums.

hi scott,

thank you for your thoughtful message and your support for sufjan’s music. i am glad you saw the show in asheville despite ticketmaster’s ‘convenience’ charge. the percentile of the low price sufjan keeps his tickets at, is huge. if you come up with a system to get around using them, please let us know.

the price of asthmatic kitty records’ merchandise has not changed in ten years. however we have no control over the prices charged by the tour. there is no shipping to pay when you buy from the table. thus, on tour, the cd is $3 more.

despite the ambiguous message conveyed in the “latte” letter, asthmatic kitty records did willingly participate in the program that made amazon’s price available.

we sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write.

please forgive us our shortcomings. it must be those lattes.

dear asthmatic kitty,

allow me to begin by saying that i feel awkward replying to your last message — for even writing to you in the first place — as i take no pleasure in pointing out the faults of entities i respect, but perhaps i have to keep in mind that i can enjoy sufjan’s music and whatever else and still dislike a silly email sent by the music label he founded, without either stance being problematic, in the same way i can list knut hamsun among my favorite writers without feeling his work is maligned or can be overshadowed by his personal life, i.e. his vehement support of nazi germany. sorry, it sounds like i’m comparing you to the extermination of jewish people. i can assure you that’s not my intention.

while i do forgive you for your shortcomings, i am confused by something you wrote in the latest email. you write that on tour, the cd is $3 more than if purchased from your website because fans do not have to pay for shipping to pick it up at the table. on the surface, such a markup makes no sense (and that is before i think about the fact that you do not have to pay for postage to ship it to the fan). it’s possible that i’m missing something here — perhaps the additional charge is justified because of the cost to ship all of this merchandise to each venue on the tour. i would think there is ample room on the van to store this stuff though, unless sufjan’s friends took up all the extra space. if that’s the case, i’d suggest this is one of the many mistakes alluded to in the song i’m referencing, and one that can be easily remedied.

you know as well as i do that the problems with ticketmaster are unsolvable. we are teacups in their ocean, pawns on their chessboard, forgotten vegetables in the crisper of their refrigerator (i’m not still referencing sufjan lyrics, by the way; i made these up on my own).

lastly, don’t beat yourself up over your penchant for overpriced lattes. we all have our vices, and, in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably one of the least damaging ones.

all the best,
asthmatic scotty


no shortness of breath.

9 November 2010

leading up to the release of the age of adz, sufjan stevens’ amazing new album, the record label he founded, asthmatic kitty, sent an email to his fans.

we love getting good music into your hands. we think it makes you happy, and that makes us happy. and that’s why we’re writing this email: to make everyone happy. it’s admittedly a long email but we hope you’ll stick with us for at least a little while because we want to explain something.

on october twelve we are proud to release sufjan stevens’ first song-based full-length album in five years, the age of adz. we think it’s one of the best things we’ve heard in a long time and we’re hoping you’ll buy it.

so. we have it on good authority that amazon will be selling the age of adz for a very low price on release date, not unlike they did with arcade fire’s recent (and really terrific) the suburbs. we’re not one hundred percent sure amazon will do this, but mostly sure.

we have mixed feelings about discounted pricing. like we said, we love getting good music into the hands of good people, and when a price is low, more people buy. a low price will introduce a lot of people to sufjan’s music and to this wonderful album. for that, we’re grateful.

but we also feel like the work that our artists produce is worth more than a cost of a latte. we value the skill, love, and time they’ve put into making their records. and we feel that our work too, in promotion and distribution, is also valuable and worthwhile.

that’s why we personally feel that physical products like eps should sell for around $7 and full-length cds for around $10-12. we think digital eps should sell for around $5 and full-length digital albums for something like $8.

they continue by listing various avenues to acquire the album.

dear asthmatic kitty,

as one of those who took advantage of amazon’s discounted pricing of $3.99 to purchase sufjan stevens’ new album, i feel the need to comment on behalf of myself and other fans who have made the same (wise) choice.

in a time of pecuniary difficulties, it’s not a very good tactic to caution people away from lower prices, especially when the other acceptable option for them is downloading the album for free with file-sharing software. i’m not saying this option is viable to me, as i’m kind of old-fashioned in that respect, but the fact remains that the record company gets the same cut whether amazon sells it at their introductory price or they charge an amount that is more than a latte (i have never purchased a latte, by the way, let alone a $4 one, so i may be missing some subtle points you’re trying to make).

if you’ll permit, i’ll tell you about my own experience: i would not have owned this album when i did if i had not visited amazon at three thirty am on the release day and seen the deal. subsequently i would not have listened to it as soon as i did — and been astounded enough by it to contemplate driving three hours to asheville, north carolina, for a sufjan show ten days later. i attended and recommended both the album and remaining tour dates to friends and strangers afterward.

i paid $30 for the ticket, which i felt was fair enough. ticketmaster added another $17 in convenience charges, which, in case you don’t have a calculator nearby, is almost an additional sixty percent fee. asthmatic kitty, if you need a corporate monopoly to go after, one whose defeat will make fans happy, then sharpen your teeth against ticketmaster rather than amazon, though, according to eddie vedder, they don’t fight fairly, so you may want to have an extra inhaler ready.

while we’re on the topic of the show and fair prices, the merchandise table outside of the auditorium was selling the age of adz for $15. on your website you sell this same album for $10, in line with what you personally feel a physical full-length cd is worth (these are your words from the email). if you’re indeed made happy by making us happy (again these are your words from the email) then should we consider this added charge as a way of saying, thank you for coming out tonight and supporting us, because, on the surface, it seems a bit prohibitive.

enjoy your latte,

goldenrod and the 4-h stone.

19 December 2008

1. last week a stuffed animal, pencillin, arrived from giant microbes for my mom. she’s allergic to the actual antibiotic so i figured she’d enjoy a plush version, which she has affectionately named penny. it rests on a machine used to suction mucus from the opening in her trachea.

2. today i brought her blueberry juice from trader joe’s. she doesn’t drink liquids by mouth regularly, due to the complications with her feeding tubes, but has recently craved juices to determine whether her sense of taste has improved. pear wasn’t strong enough. if nothing else she’ll appreciate the irony of drinking such an antioxidant-rich beverage.

3. for christmas i’m giving her a copy of the stone diaries by carol shields. the book is a fictional autobiography of a woman whose mother dies during childbirth. from there, her life continues rather ordinarily (she marries, has children, grows older), but as we examine her resiliency through difficult times, we understood that she is vibrant and inspirational. true, that’s pretty much the idea behind all of carol shields’s books, but this is presumably her best.

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