A post today on The Guardian’s website talks about a recent email that Asthmatic Kitty sent to its mailing list, asking that anyone purchasing digital copies of Sufjan Stevens’s The Age Of Adz please buy from indie upstart Bandcamp or another independent retail site instead of Amazon. Writes Asthmatic Kitty:
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 100% 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.
The low price, as the label notes, has its positives. According to the New York Times, the Amazon price ($3.99) was part of the reason why The Suburbs debuted at number 1:
Amazon’s boost is usually gratefully accepted by artists and record labels. But some record executives also worry that the fire-sale pricing may further devalue recorded music. Merge would not comment on its arrangement with Amazon, but executives at other labels, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deals were private, said that Amazon typically selects an album to promote and sells it at a loss, by paying a label its standard wholesale price — usually about $7 — while offering it to fans for $3 or $4.
I don’t know if Asthmatic Kitty received the same deal from Amazon, but so many of AK’s decisions are made on principle, so wanting fans to buy elsewhere, on principle, wouldn’t be out of character. Their previous Stevens email told readers that his EP would be available on Bandcamp, then on “other corporate entities” like iTunes and Amazon later. Maybe they want to discourage you from buying from these corporations. Maybe they’d like to get paid a little more. Maybe they just want fans to really think about what they’re paying for, regardless of how much the label/artist is getting paid.
The Age Of Adz is out 10/12, which gives you a bit of time to mull it over.