One of the biggest debacles I’ve ever been a part of in all my years of buying records was joining The Gaslight Anthem’s fan club, the 45 RPM Club. I say one of because the MTS TOYPAJ disaster will never be topped as worst buying/pre-order experience ever. A yearly 7” exclusive to fan club members was the focal point and why most people, including myself, paid $25 to join the club. Also included with fan club membership was a t-shirt, stickers, membership ID card, and early access to tour tickets and merch like posters. Ultimately the fan club turned out to be a giant rip off and poorly managed. It was started purely as a cash grab, it was never about the fans.
First, the t-shirt members received was a plain white t-shirt with the 45 RPM Club logo printed on it. Members received three stickers, but depending on when you joined you received different stickers. But everyone received the same 45 RPM Club sticker along with Gaslight Anthem stickers. Everyone also received the same membership ID card, which has your member number printed on it. The early access to tour tickets really only benefited the eastern quarter of the country and California. People in the NYC metro area were the biggest beneficiaries of fan club exclusive shows/performances however, as they were able to get tickets to late show performances, not even counting the vastly more amount of shows the band plays in and around NYC. The exclusive merch was all overpriced posters, and there were only two or three of those made available over the course of the year.
The biggest debacle with the fan club regarded the 7”. First off it was delayed by many many months, and the people who run the fan club kept quiet about it. They pretty much refused to send out an update to members, which is this day and age of email, Facebook, and twitter is inexcusable. They only sent out one update regarding the 7”s not shipping, which was the typical “it’s out of our hands” and “soon” excuses/answers. When they did respond to members via email, there was one standard response, “hurricane sandy.” Infinite Merch/Punk Rock Music.com (who ran the fan club or at least handled sending out physical items for it) used the everything got delayed because of Hurricane Sandy line for months, and for a while it might have been true, but at a certain point it became bullshit.
Having personally been affected by Sandy I have a mix of sympathy knowing how long it takes to recover and deal with the storm’s aftermath. But it was also a slap in the face as they were using Sandy as a crutch for their own ineptness. The claims of “Sandy did it! Sandy did it!” were no longer believable when close to 1 year after the storm approached and the record still did not start shipping. Especially knowing all the plants in Brooklyn that suffered storm damage were back up and running months before the fan club people were still using the Sandy excuse. There were plenty of options available to get the record pressed and out the door to fan club members, and it seemed the fan club organizers did not do any of them.
Once the record started shipping to members the problems still did not stop. Infinte Merch/punkrockmusic.com did not properly ship the records, as they were shipped in boxes way too big for a 7”, which resulted in practically every copy having various degrees of seam splits. Some people had such bad damage that entire sides of the sleeve, which is made of thin glossy paper by the way and is not printed on card stock, were no longer attached. Some people had about an inch of paper holding one side of the sleeve together. Myself, living in the same state as the 7”s were shipped from, still had a decent sized seam split because of the terrible packing job.
Another problem once the records started shipping was that they were being sent to wrong addresses. Since it took so long to get the fan club records out, some people undoubtedly moved, and when those people contacted Infinite Merch/punkrockmusic.com about an address change ultimately nothing was done about it. Even though the member received confirmation back from Infinite Merch/punkrockmusic.com.
As of writing this there are still countless people who have not received their records. The records started shipping in early July, over a year since the fan club went live, and I did not receive mine till mid September. I sent countless emails, all of which went un-replied. Things got so bad that The Gaslight Anthem’s manager got involved, promising to help get people their 7”. Ultimately she was a liar and refused to help me after a while. She actually told me not to contact her anymore, and it’s not like I was harassing her. I sent her three emails, the first went unreplied (shocker!) so I sent another which got a response saying she would look into it. After 3 weeks and still no 7” I emailed the manager again for help, which is when she said don’t contact me again and to contact Infinite Merch directly, giving me an email address to contact the which did not work (emails got bounced back as undeliverable). Gaslight’s manager only actually helped at most five people, and I’m being generous with that number.
To my surprise I emailed Infinite Merch/punrockmusic.com about not getting my 7” one last time and got a response. I used their contact form on their website though since they never replied to direct emails. So everyone still waiting for their 7” should go that route. Infinite Merch/punkrockmusic.com claimed they already sent me a 7”, which was a lie as the only tracking number on my order was for my initial membership package for the shirt and stickers that was sent back in November. Keeping in mind getting my t-shirt was like pulling teeth too. I quickly got my 7” after contacting them that last time, but getting it so quick was only because it was sent within the same state.
The biggest kicker and the most laughable move made by Infinite Merch/punkrockmusic.com was that started their fan club membership renewal drive before they even sent out the records from the first year. And they wanted almost double the money the first year cost, $45 instead of $25. Further proving the fan club is a terrible attempt at a cash grab. But hey, that extra $20 gets you a cooler t-shirt.