I spoke with a representative from the Pearl Jam Ten Club management today on the phone for about thirty minutes, responding back to a voicemail he left on my cell phone yesterday shortly after my amended post went up, saying they were “saddened” by the developments and asking if I would please call them back. Yesterday was a long day, and life being what it is, I had real-job responsibilities to finish up and a sunburned little kindergartener to pick up from summer camp, so I didn’t get a chance to call them back until lunch hour today. A lot of spiraling has happened since then, all over the internet.
Ultimately I will concede that Pearl Jam has the right to control the way that their material is heard by and unveiled to the fans, and my opinion about how they should make business decisions (which they are simply that — business decisions) is not as important to the rest of the world as it is to me. Fair enough. They have a plan, and crappy-quality fan recordings are not part of that plan anymore.
Yesterday I amended the original post to remove reference to censorship, as I learned more about what unfolded. The deleted written posts around the internet stemmed from a violation of the non-disclosure agreement regarding the deal and commercial with Target for exclusive big-box distribution of their new album, a model that they have worked on for years and are excited about. Pearl Jam wanted it to be unveiled “properly.” Rather than adapt and unveil this news on Friday when rumors of the shoot started leaking, management made the decision to quell discussion until they could release the information on Monday in the manner they had intended. Again, fair enough. Their decision.
We discussed the band’s change in policy, from the years of supported cassette trading among fans to a bigger, brighter, shinier internet that disseminates information to millions with a click, and how this affects the way that their new music is experienced. The term he used was “opening the presents before Christmastime.” My opinions on the effects of hearing live, pre-release fan recordings differs from that of the band and the management.
As this blog has grown, I have found myself with a leg in both worlds of the fandom where this all began and the industry side, and I’m not always quite sure where my personal enthusiasm stops and responsibility to whatever platform I have must begin. After some initial unfortunate very harsh words in the phone call (apparently Fuel/Friends is, and I quote, “a shitty blog”), the representative of the band reiterated that the support of fans and sites like mine are “very important” to the band and to the Ten Club, and asked if there was anything they could do to amend the breakup.
Ultimately what I take away from the conversation (other than reluctantly tear-streaked cheeks) is that I can see the perspective of a man and a business that is trying to make it work for them as well. We simply have two very different vantage points: that of the fans who will always want more and more in our excitement, and that of the band trying to manage a career purposefully and deliberately, on their terms. Ultimately, they win and don’t owe me anything. It’s their band, their decisions.
I guess sometimes we think that earnest fandom means we can do whatever we want as bloggers, and enthusiasm will smooth over a multitude of transgressions. And it’s not always so in an increasingly legalized internet world. I must have been hasty to publicize –or frankly even have– personal feelings about all this when, to them, I think it’s just business.