Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sub Pop, the corporate giant

I've always loved ordering music directly from labels and I try to do that whenever I can. By and large, my experiences have been very good. About 12 years ago, I had a particularly good experience ordering some records from Sub Pop. At the time, I was pretty strapped for cash, but I really wanted Mudhoney's My Brother the Cow. So, I called (this was before the days of online ordering) Sub Pop mailorder and ordered it along with three seven inches that I can't even recall now. Then, I had second thoughts, knowing that money was tight and I called back to cancel the LP and keep the seven inches. No problem. About a week later, I get my package with...the seven inches and the LP. The next day, I get another package with just the seven inches. I call Sub Pop and explain what happened, knowing that it was due in part to my own indecision. I explain that I'm willing to go ahead and buy the LP, but that I just want to send the extra seven inches back. I get put on hold and I'm thinking, "I hope this isn't a hassle." To my surprise, they tell me to keep everything and they'll only charge me for the three seven inches. How cool was that? It probably wasn't the best business practice, but I did go back from time to time and order from them over the years and I always had a bit of a soft spot for Sub Pop, even as they became more corporate.

Fast forward to last Sunday night. I'm sitting around thinking, "Man, I should order a couple of Shins records." So, I logon to the Sub Pop website and pick a coupl Shins LPs and the last Mudhoney and proceed to checkout. What's that? Coupon? I don't have a coupon. Maybe I can ask for one. It wouldn't hurt to ask, right? Here's what happened:

From: bob
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 6:09 PM
To: Lacey S
Subject: Coupon

Hey, I was gonna place an order and I noticed there was a place to use a coupon. How do I get a coupon? I'd love to have one. Please...

Peace...

Bob

I don't think I was being too demanding or anything. I was just asking (nicely I might add). Lacey from Sub Pop responds:

Subject: RE: Coupon
From: "Lacey S" <laceys@subpop.com>
Date: Mon, December 18, 2006 3:07 pm
To: bob

No coupon!

Lacey Swain
Sub Pop Records
2013 4th Ave, 3rd Fl
Seattle, WA 98121
206.441.8441x1337

Wow. That wasn't very nice. I mean, I don't care that I didn't get a coupon, but she didn't have to be nasty. What happened to the old Sub Pop? I respond (copying other emails for Sub Pop, just in case someone there cares):

From: bob
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2006 1:37 PM
To: Lacey S
Cc: press; info; directsales
Subject: RE: Coupon

No order! I'm sure I can pick 'em up used on half.com.

Peace...

Bob

Just in case I wasn't put off enough before, Lacey takes the time to respond and ensure that I know that Sub Pop doesn't give a crap about the people who buy their records:

Subject: RE: Coupon
From: "Lacey S" <laceys@subpop.com>
Date: Mon, December 18, 2006 5:07 pm
To: bob

You are probably right!

Lacey Swain
Sub Pop Records
2013 4th Ave, 3rd Fl
Seattle, WA 98121
206.441.8441x1337

I guess I should have known better, but I still hoped that Sub Pop would have some shred of it's old indie self hanging around. I guess not. Thank you Lacey Swain of Sub Pop for your honesty. I won't make the same mistake again. I'll get my Sub Pop releases used and give my money to Turn and No Idea instead. They still treat music fans like people and not just consumers.

4 Comments:

Blogger Metal Mark said...

That's a shame. I have ordered from a few labels and distributors that sell on ebay. I made the mistake of dealing with Retrospect a label known for controversy(i.e.-releasing albums without the band's permission). I got the runaround several times. I got my stuff eventually, but it was too much hassle. However, I have also dealt with Metal Mayhem (for the last maybe four years) and Wounded Bird records. Both sell their stuff cheaper on ebay that from their sites. Both have been great and given me good service. I have had a time or two where I have had to ask Metal Mayhem where my stuff is, but they are quick to respond and quick to resolve things.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Wow, that really blows. Sub Pop had such a great amount of cred back in the day. Fuck that attitude of theirs. I will say I usually order anything now from half.com or cduniverse.com or if it's a label I really trust from my promotional dealings...that, or I try to order directly from the band themselves if possible. That's a real dickheaded thing of Lacey to do.

12:59 AM  
Blogger laceyswain said...

Hey look what I found--a little blog action about me, Lacey Swain. I totally remember this exchange (which is pretty crazy considering we are such a huge, hate-filled corporation)and I'd just like to say that I'm quite sorry that you feel I was being a dick. I'm actually a pretty nice lady but sometimes the overwhelming amount of emails I have to answer on a daily basis causes me to be quick and to the point, hence the "no coupon!" response (because there was, in fact, no coupon available for that release). I figured a quick response was probably better than no response at all, like you'd get at a lot of labels (and, honestly, probably from some of my coworkers).
So, there you go. Please support your local half.com.

xo
lacey

5:07 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Interestingly enough, my blog has the same ranking in google (5) if you search for "lacey swain" as it does if you search on "beatles versus stones." I actually get more activity from the second search though.

I want to say two things: First, I often get much more cordial responses from the labels I order from. They're usually smaller than Sub Pop, but they're also usually nicer. So maybe I should stick to the smaller labels. I did once get a somewhat curt response from someone at the Insound distro. I didn't perceive it as being quite as nasty as I had perceived Lacey's, but I did come away feeling the person could have been a bit cooler. Oh well.

Second, seeing as I have some tendency to overthink some things, this addendum to my earlier dealings with Lacey did make me think. I realized that perhaps I treated her the same way I accused her of treating me, as if she wasn't a person, just a worker. So, I'll apologize for that. Sorry, Lacey. I didn't mean to destroy your cred with the other three or so people who read this.

4:38 PM  

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