Indie darling Sufjan Stevens new album, which he announced a bit over a week ago, is due to be released in a couple weeks. Recently his record label, Asthmatic Kitty, posted a letter to the public on their site criticizing the lower digital pricing practice that Amazon has used. For those not in the know, Amazon frequently offers a lower price for certain records for limited time periods, often below the sticker price that the record labels themselves offer the albums at. The letter, which one would assume was written by Sufjan, states:
I operate under the conviction that people buy records because they want to own them, not because they want to hear them. It is too easy these days to hear a record without having to buy it. I don't resent that fact, rather I feel we at Asthmatic Kitty embrace it through streaming albums and offering several free mp3s (even whole free albums). And why do they want to own it? They want it to illustrate to others their taste and identify who they are as a person. I also believe they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, they want to belong. Our job is no longer to sell folks things they want to hear. They want an experience and to identify themselves as part of a community. Ownership then becomes a way of them supporting your community through investing in that community. Fostering that in an honest, transparent and "non-gross" way takes a combination of gracefulness, creativity and not taking oneself too seriously, while still taking art and music seriously. 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.The letter later points out alternative retailers and different methods for obtaining the upcoming record at a fair price, as it’s guaranteed to fly off the shelves. His new album Age of Adz is set to be released October 11th. For more info visit Asthmatic Kitty. What do you think? Does a cheaper price tag devalue good music or is it designed to make it more accessible?