Jack White defends Third Man Records eBay auctions

Singer dismisses complaints of fan exploitation, saying his decision to sell limited-edition vinyl to the highest bidder cuts out opportunists who profit from secondary sales

There is a rebellion brewing among fans of Jack White's label, Third Man Records, over the company's decision to auction limited-edition releases to the highest bidder. After admitting that Third Man was inspired by profiteers who "flipped" the label's releases on eBay, White has waded into the debate, telling critics to "stop all of the whining". "We didn't do anything to you but give you what you want," he wrote. "Don't want them to be expensive? Then guess what? Don't WANT them."

Since 2009, White has been issuing limited-edition records on his Third Man imprint, including releases by the Dead Weather, Conan O'Brien and the White Stripes. Many of these are released in runs of 100 or 300 copies, with tri-colour, glow-in-the-dark or oddly sized vinyl. Although these limited editions often resell for hundreds of pounds, Third Man sold them on a first-come, first-served basis through its Nashville headquarters, "pop-up shops" and a paid members' service, the Vault. With the label's rising profile, and its releases' rising values, Third Man has attracted "flippers", who buy limited records purely sell online.

This week, Third Man Records decided to beat the flippers at their own game, listing their own limited-edition White Stripes reissues on eBay. Vault subscribers were directed to these auctions, where bids have soared to more than $300 (£193). But many Third Man Records fans are furious about the label's new strategy, taking to the label's message board to complain about "fan exploitation" and "FU to Vault members". White waded in with a series of stern responses.

"We sell a Wanda Jackson split record for 10 bucks, the eBay flipper turns around and sells it for 300," he explained (via Antiquiet). "If 300 is what it's worth, then why doesn't Third Man Records sell it for 300? If we sell them for more, the artist gets more, the flipper gets nothing ... We thought we'd let you decide how much they cost this time."

But what began as a calm explanation soon descended into a tirade. "You would go so far as to say fuck you to us?" White wrote. "For what? We didn't do anything to you but give you what you want ... If you don't want [this record], DONT BUY IT. And if you do want it, don't act like you DON'T want it. Get in line like anyone else ... It's you and others wanting them that dictates the price and the entire nature of the idea."

According to White, "there's a guy who waits in a black SUV down the block from Third Man who hires homeless people to go buy him tri-colour [records] when they are on sale". Third Man is simply trying to cut out these opportunists. "You act like we bury [vinyl] in tunnels in Vietnam for God sakes," he continued. "Don't be spoiled, don't insult people who are trying to give you what you want ... Seriously stop all of the whining, because what you communicate to us is that all of the trouble we go to isn't worth it because nothing we do will make you happy."

Contributor

Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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