It’s unclear how Jack White throws himself into so many projects and still has too much time on his hands. Pissed at people who purchase Third Man special editions then auction them for higher prices at eBay, White and his label recently hosted their own eBay auction with five copies of the reissued double split-color vinyl version of the White Stripes’ self-titled first album, an edition otherwise only sold at select record stores and at White’s own Nashville TMR store. (It closed yesterday.) At the start, Third Man subscribers were given a link to an eBay page — all five auctions went above $100 each in less than an hour. Still more affordable than the $500 box set or $17,000 7″, but hey, this is when folks got angry. As Antiquiet reports:
[A] small shitstorm of comments began to erupt on The Vault, when, suddenly, Jack White joined the site’s chatroom with a handbasket-gripping introduction of “See you in hell?” and explained, quite simply, why the hell there were people paying 500 bucks for a record you have to crack open to listen to: “Supply & demand.”
When a fan tried to argue that people with “more money than sense” were to blame, Jack retorted: “Or are they just paying what the going rate is?” White explained: ”We sell a Wanda Jackson split record for 10 bucks, the eBay flipper turns around and sells it for 300. If 300 is what it’s worth, then why doesn’t Third Man Records sell it for 300? If we sell them for more, the artist gets more, the flipper gets nothing. We’re not in the business of making flippers a living. We’re in the business of giving fans what they want.”
He didn’t stop there.
When Jack was pushed about the integrity of this move, he responded: “Integrity? What are we doing that doesn’t have integrity? You’re the ones telling us what they are worth.”
After bidding adieu, White returned to the page and got into another argument. Antiquiet kindly offers this transcription, which someone should turn into a one-act play.
Fan: Alright? Is this a big FU or something to vault members?! I ran home all excited to see what was going to be posted and this is it?! Seriously this is a bunch of crap. I pay my membership and have really got nothing extrodinary for it in return really?
Jack: you’ve gotten NOTHING extraordinary in return? i’d have to disagree with you, as the records you’ve received you can ONLY get with a vault membership. i won’t bore you with online content and free giveaways, and first admission privileges, etc. but are you saying you aren’t getting rare records at a price that’s at least a third of what they go for on, oh i don’t know ….ebay?
Fan: Well I think it’s official this is my last Vault experience. Really nothing on here worth paying for anymore. Think you get something special with a message, but it’s really just a link to fan exploitation.
Jack: fan exploitation? really? if you don’t want it, DONT BUY IT. and if you do want it, don’t act like you DON’T want it. get in line like anyone else, hunt for it like anyone else. you act like we bury them in tunnels in vietnam for god sakes, you can get one randomly in the mail if your lucky, in line at a store if you’re lucky, in your hometown if you’re lucky, etc. who is guaranteed a rare hard to find record? only vault members and their quarterly subscriptions. there’s luck in every other version.
Fan: Fuck you, Third Man.
Jack: really? you think we deserve that? would you like us to just stop making limited edition records? you would go so far as to say fuck you to us? for what? we didn’t do anything to you but give you what you want. you’re a vault member obviously, for what reason? limited records you can’t get elsewhere? would you kindly send us those records back so we can sell them to some other fan who didn’t get to have them? don’t want a split colored limited edition record? then guess what? don’t buy one. don’t want them to be expensive? then guess what? don’t WANT them. it’s you and others wanting them that dictates the price and the entire nature of the idea…
make no mistake, we could make twenty thousand split color whatevers for you, and they’ll be worth 20 bucks, and you’ll pay 20 bucks for them, and you’ll never talk about them, desire them, hunt to find them, etc. why should ebay flippers, who are not real fans, dictate the price, make all the profit (taken from the artist and the label) and take the records out of the hands of real fans. there’s a guy who waits in a black suv down the block from third man who hires homeless people to go buy him tri colors when they are on sale. doesn’t even get out of his car. should he be charged ten bucks or two hundred? don’t be spoiled, don’t insult people who are trying to give you what you want. last quarter every vault member got a black and blue live record. a record you’re only supposed to get if you ACTUALLY GO to a live show at third man. are you pissed about that?
…from some of these comments i take it that a lot of you would like this to be all digital, available to anyone on amazon dot com, anytime. boring, lifeless, lazy, and redundant. don’t get mad at third man for giving you exactly what you’ve asked for. and seriously stop all of the whining, because what you communicate to us is that all of the trouble we go to isn’t worth it because nothing we do will make you happy. we’ll try to do back rubs door to door when we get a chance. sincerely the staff at third man records.
Believe it or not, you can feel more of White’s ire at Antiquiet.