Elvis Costello Tells His Fans 'Steal This Record'

from the this-price-is-crazy dept

The price at which labels want to sell music and the price customers are willing to pay are often two totally different things. Yet, as we talk about this price disparity, we very rarely consider the price at which the artist wants to sell the music. This point of contention has come to a head with the release of Elvis Costello’s latest music collection. In a post titled “Steal This Record”, Costello states his album, “The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook”, just plain costs too much.

Unfortunately, we at www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend this lovely item to you as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire.

Yeah, I would say that $202.66 is a joke. For that price you get 1 CD, 1 DVD and 1 Vinyl EP. That’s it. You would think that for that price you would get a lot more, but no. along with other memorabilia including a coffe table book and autographed commemoration card. But still, if the artist thinks even with those extras the price is just way too high, then perhaps he is right. I can imagine how frustrating it must be for Costello to try and get the price changed with no luck. This is one of the downsides of working with a label.

After hitting a brick wall with his label, Costello has decided to take drastic measures to get his point heard. He is suggesting that his fans avoid buying the album and instead buy something he feels is far superior and cheaper to boot:

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.

If you should really want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we can whole-heartedly recommend, “Ambassador Of Jazz” – a cute little imitation suitcase, covered in travel stickers and embossed with the name “Satchmo” but more importantly containing TEN re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis Armstrong.

The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats. Frankly, the music is vastly superior.

That is quite a show of humility. Not only does he suggest Armstrong’s album as a better buy for the money, he also gives Armstrong props for making better music. This is a pretty good endorsement and according to Amazon, “Ambassador of Jazz” is already sold out. So people are listening. Perhaps the end goal here is to get the label to admit that it screwed up the pricing and to soon change it. However, if even the artist cannot get the price changed, what hope is there for a consumer boycott?

We talk a lot about the need for artists to connect with fans as a way to give them a reason to buy. Here, we have an artist connecting with fans and asking them to avoid buying. You would think that this would be counter productive for the artist but this move shows that Costello has the best interests of his fans in mind and will do anything to protect them from unscrupulous business moves. That is certainly a reason to support an artist.

If you really want to support him, Costello gives his fans other options if they really want this album but don’t want to pay the current asking price:

If on the other hand you should still want to hear and view the component parts of the above mentioned elaborate hoax, 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.

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Comments on “Elvis Costello Tells His Fans 'Steal This Record'”

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45 Comments
jupiterkansas (profile) says:

It’s a whole lot more than just a CD, DVD, and LP. I’d say for a limited collectors edition a price hike is justified. And this isn’t something you can just steal – there’s more to it than just music, and just the kind of “reason to buy” that is preached on this site. I’m sure they can unload a mere 1,500 of these. I’m not sure why Elvis is complaining.

Amazon says: “The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! is a 3-disc (CD, DVD, 10″ vinyl EP) live box set, recorded over a 2-night stand at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 11 and 12, 2011. Limited to 1500 copies worldwide, each set is individually numbered with a special commemoration card autographed by Elvis Costello. This super deluxe package includes a 40-page hardcover book packed with candid photos, a tour diary of Costello’s musings from each tour stop, a 20″ x 30” concert tour poster and a limited edition postcard. The CD was recorded from both nights’ performances at the Wiltern, shows which The Los Angeles Times called “the kind of uniquely invigorating experience that warrants a buzzword all its own: inspiring.” The DVD is from Costello’s show on May 12, 2011, and includes a special guest appearance by the Bangles, plus bonus footage including behind-the-scenes moments captured with the Imposters as well as extra performances not included in the main set of the show. The 10-inch vinyl record features four songs only available in this set. All this is housed in a lavish box with a working spinning replica of “The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” on the front cover! Only 1500 copies were printed and autographed so don’t miss out.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s a whole lot more than just a CD, DVD, and LP. I’d say for a limited collectors edition a price hike is justified. And this isn’t something you can just steal – there’s more to it than just music, and just the kind of “reason to buy” that is preached on this site. I’m sure they can unload a mere 1,500 of these. I’m not sure why Elvis is complaining.

This is a good point. It does sound quite a lot like Trent Reznor’s “super deluxe, limited edition” package.

But, to be fair, when Reznor launched that, he did so AT THE EXACT SAME TIME as he released all the tracks under a CC license.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Thanks for the update on that. I had missed that part of the Amazon description.

However, I think the point still stands that Costello thinks the price is way too high and should be lower. That is the main point of the article.

Armstrong’s box set gets the buyer 10 CDs and a ton of collectibles for a lower price. So it is pretty clear why Costello would be upset about a higher price.

out_of_the_blue says:

NOWHERE DOES COSTELLO SAY "STEAL".

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/music/Elvis-Costello-Dont-Buy-My-225-Boxed-Set-134660643.html

“Just in time for the holidays, Elvis Costello has a new $225 box set for sale — and he’s telling fans NOT to buy it.

The singer says $225 is just too much to pay for “Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook,” even if it does come with three CDs, a vinyl record, a concert DVD and a 40-page coffee table book.”

BUT Zach sez: “For that price you get 1 CD, 1 DVD and 1 Vinyl EP. That’s it.”

BLATANTLY WRONG. CORRECT YOUR ARTICLE.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: NOWHERE DOES COSTELLO SAY "STEAL".

@ “Dark Helmet”: Actually, that was a trap to get someone to admit that piracy = stealing. However, I lost interest.

But was still worthwhile to draw YOU out with more vulgarity! Your little jihad to hound me is ALSO quite telling of character. After seeing your needless but vicious attacks on mere comments NOT directed at you, I wouldn’t hire you, nor publish you.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: NOWHERE DOES COSTELLO SAY "STEAL".

“But was still worthwhile to draw YOU out with more vulgarity!”

Hahahahhahaha! Yeah, it was a trap by saying that nowhere did Costello say to steal the album. Riiiiiight. More like you proved yourself to be a complete fucking moron and now you’re trying to tapdance your way out of it. Sorry, not buying it. You’re dumb. Just own it.

“Your little jihad to hound me is ALSO quite telling of character.”

And your complete inability to read an article and understand the most basic concepts of the internet, economics, and basic English is quite telling of what I’ve suspected for a long time: you’re a pathetic little person that couldn’t pass a dog’s IQ test. Nice try with your excuses, though. Come on, dummy, just own your stupidity. It’ll be fine….

“After seeing your needless but vicious attacks on mere comments NOT directed at you, I wouldn’t hire you, nor publish you.”

Then I’ll rest easy knowing you have neither the intelligence nor the ability to put yourself in a position where you could hire or publish anyone at all. Thankfully, since I’m both gainfully employed and published, I guess I don’t have to worry about what insignificant pedantic morons like you think of me, now do I, poopy-pants?

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Mr. Costello Gets It...

But then again, he always has. I have a bunch of his albums, and like him as a musician, but I’ve always been impressed with him for more than just his music. He understands the business — far more than most of the crap being pushed as “modern pop.” He seems to understand that people aren’t going to shell out $225, even for a limited edition set (although I suspect people will buy it, just not the numbers that the industry believes will.) But he is bringing his fans attention to it, and some will go out and get it.

I will, of course, wait. And I hope that he makes it available through means outside of the traditional labels so that I can buy it without having to give a dime to the labels. I will not steal it, despite his blanket request to do so, but I hope he is reading this at some point and realizes that at least some of his fans are interested in his work, but won’t buy it on principle unless he makes it available in such a way that our money isn’t used to steal money from the label’s customers through lawsuits and destroying the Constitution.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Elvis Costello's got the right idea

Cut the price in half and it wouldn’t be a problem.

For $100 I got the Bioshock 2 game, the Bioshock 1 vinyl, the Bioshock 2 CD, and the concept art book. Signed lithographs aren’t nearly as expensive as one would think. I got Robert Picardo’s signed lithograph for $5 (and that’s F’n Star Trek).

markzip (profile) says:

UPDATE: He has a "clarifying" post up

A subsequent post entitled “Let’s Mke Things Sparklingly clear” contains the following rather wonderful paragraph:

If you should still want the component items in the above mentioned elaborate hoax, they will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, unless you are one of those pirates who imagines they are evangelists or that other people?s rights absolve their own thievery, in which case this is between you and your dim conscience.

So that’s his record company AND the pirates told, then.

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