Elvis Costello Wants You To Steal His Record
You can tell that there's a growing level of discontent in the music industry. Record company executives are upset with dwindling sales (and can't seem to fully accept the new digital reality of the industry. Fans are upset because good music gets tossed aside in favor of bland, overproduced crap. But what many people don't realize is that the musicians themselves are starting to feel a little bit of the hate.
Needless to say, records, in their current form, might be overpriced as it is in a lot of cases. So, people resort to "alternative means" to check out the music that they want. This may or may not be a problem, but just like in any other industry, there is definitely some price gouging going on.
Legendary English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello has uncovered such price-gouging business, and has taken certain unusual steps in order to protect his fans and consumers.
In a peculiar blog post on his official website, Costello has urged his fans NOT to purchase his latest album, “The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook," a live album featuring Elvis Costello and the Imposters, recorded this past spring in Los Angeles. The box set, which is set to release on December 6th, features a CD, a DVD, and a 10 inch vinyl EP.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Well, sure, until you find out that the recommended price for the bundle is a whopping $350 US, and over $200 on Amazon.
Clearly there's some funny business going on here with the record label (HipO, a division of Universal Records), and Elvis Costello has recognized this.
"Unfortunately, we find ourselves unable to recommend this lovely item to you as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire," says the singer-songwriter through his website. "All our attempts to have this number revised have been fruitless but rather than detain you with tedious arguments about morality, panache and book-keeping - when there are really bigger fish to filet these days - we are taking the following unusual step."
Costello goes on to suggest that his fans instead purchase the "Ambassador of Jazz" box set from Louis Armstrong, a 10-disc remastered set that retails for $50 less than the upcoming 1-disc set from Costello.
"If on the other hand you should still want to hear and view the component parts of the above mentioned elaborate hoax," Costello's website says, "then those items will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, assuming that you have not already obtained them by more unconventional means."
Dare we assume that Costello is suggesting we less-than-legally acquire his music? The title of his post, "Steal This Record", seems to suggest so.
The music industry has seemingly shifted their focus to box sets in recent years, with the growing demise of the CD. They have to find innovative ways to make money, so the end result is overpriced box sets that feature trinkets and artwork that companies can pass off as "limited" or "collectible" in order to steal money from fans. The value of such a set from Costello is arguable, but it's not like they're taking rare recordings of the legendary musician that all thought were lost. This is music recorded earlier in 2011. When, dare I say it, the market allows for these types of things to be acquires at a much lower price, it's a little ridiculous to try something this ludicrous in order to make money.
The Telegraph seems to suggest that Costello is overreacting, and that the "die-hards" won't be as upset with these prices. But when an artist comes out and publicly slanders his label for being greedy and irreverent, you know there's a problem. There's definitely a market for collectibles, but why does the music industry get to decide what's collectible? I remember a day when the music spoke for itself and made itself "collectible", regardless of the packaging.
People who don't want to dish out this ridiculous sum will find other means to listen to the music, that much is clear, regardless of what Costello says. It's just refreshing to see an artist recognize the ridiculous of the music industry in its current form.