Published Dec 02, 2010Earlier this week, Jack White sparked controversy when he auctioned off a handful of rare White Stripes LPs on eBay, causing some commentators to accuse his Third Man Records of exploiting its fans. White threw fuel on the fire when he logged onto a fan chat room, fielding questions and telling critics, "Seriously, stop all of the whining." Now, longtime cohort and Third Man Records general manager Ben Swank has written an editorial for the Guardian, explaining the label's position on eBay auctions.
Swank wrote, "I don't think people will be as repulsed by the fact that we're auctioning our records when they hear we plan on donating $15,000 to charity from sales of these limited-edition LPs."
Despite giving money to charity, Swank didn't deny that the label is hoping to profit from the auctions. He continued, "Why can't a business hawk its own wares on auction sites? I'd argue that the record industry is in trouble, and anything we can do to stay afloat should be condoned."
Explaining that the label hopes to beat "flippers," who buy records for the sole purpose of selling them on eBay, he said, "These items will end up on eBay regardless... Today, I received a gracious email from an auction winner who was very happy he won, pleased with the price, and glad that the money was going to us. "
Despite the controversy, Third Man will be sticking to its guns. Swank wrote, "I can't believe it's taken 15 years for a label to start selling its own releases on eBay (even in limited numbers). We're going to continue doing it."
The post ended on a confrontational note, with Swank explaining the label's pursuit of profit like this: "Because we're American. And Americans do crazy shit for capitalism. See you in hell."
Read the whole thing here.
UPDATE: Jack White himself has shed more light on all this through this update on the Vault [via the good folks of Antiquiet]:
hey y'all, jack here. just wanted to touch base with the thousands of fans who've come through third man or emailed or called in the last few days. everything's been going sweliigently. i want to stress to everyone that i am not mad or stressed at any fans in our world, i'm not even stressed at flippers. it's no fun to see rolling stone saying jack white is pissed at his fans. that's pretty unfair. i have to say the only thing i don't like is that i'm supposedly given the message that i'm not allowed to have a dialogue with my fans or with vault members privately for that matter. i should be able to talk to you guys and explain what we're up to without you thinking the whole staff here is pissed. we want you to know where we're coming from and we want your opinions on what goes on.
there's been a lot of positivity lately about our special releases and what all goes on at third man. glad you are digging what's happening, hope you all get the records you want, and remember all these releases are on black vinyl, and most of the time digital as well, and if enough of you want it on 8 track, we'll look into that too, matter of fact if an 6 year old walks in to the store today and asks for an 8 track of consolers of the lonely, i'm going to get him one dammit, and i'll see him in hell too! (that's a joke people, let's all take it easy) working with wanda jackson today, i'm going to take my picture with her too if she'll let me. take it easy, literally. jack III