Thursday, September 13, 2007

chivalry and the art of obtaining promo copies

Remember Tom Hull's complaint about promo copy stinginess? He's expanded on it:

I'm also annoyed that more and more of the latter are turning up lame, as CDs without packaging or with narrow slipcases that are hard to track or file... Then there are labels which let me download, which might be a nice perk for an I-Pod-wielding high schooler, but is a mechanical nuissance for me -- one of many new labor-shifting technologies, like self-checkout lines, that I've steadfastly refused to facilitate.

I don't read much about other critics complaining about these matters, which may mean I'm being overly sensitive, or may mean I'm just becoming overly frazzled. But it raises the question: if it all comes down to money for the label, shouldn't it all come down to money for me? It hardly takes any time at all to determine that writing Jazz Consumer Guide is a dreadful expense of time. Of course, it's not all money to me... But how much that's worth is hard to gauge. And it's far easier to imagine that writing my book might somehow pay back the effort than that I could parlay any amount of music writing into a future.
Jeff Gauthier, head of the Los Angeles-based Cryptogramophone label has chimed in on the promo copy debate from the murky depths of Jeff Albert's commenting system (shouldn't it also be on Downbeast?):
This is a sensitive issue for all concerned. For 8 years Cryptogramophone dutifully sent full Digipaks to writers to show off our beautiful packages. However, 500 digipaks (which is about how many we used to send to radio and press) is about 1/4 of our average sales on a title these days, and most of these ended up on Amazon and the used bins before a title was even released. Since Amazon is now our biggest customer, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot by giving away so many finished Digipaks. By now writers should know that we are committed to beautiful (and expensive) packaging as well as great music. They should also know that we will always send a finished copy to a writer if they ask for it. We understand the writer’s perspective on this issue, and we hope they understand ours. We will never deny a legitimate reviewer access to our Digipaks if they ask for it. It’s kind of like sex. We’ll even give it up on a first date if they ask nicely!