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To ring in the New Year, the TenClub has expanded their membership offerings. Prospective members can now choose between two tiers of Pearl Jam fandom, Analog and Digital.
The Digital membership, at $20, is basically what you’re already getting, albeit delivered digitally – annual single (mp3), Deep magazine (PDF), and the chance to get shut out of MSG II during online ticket sales. Strangely, the press release mentions full website access and PJ Radio access (streaming only) as perks of being a member; can’t anyone have-at these features? Isn’t that like saying if you join the NRA you’ll be able to buy guns?
The Analog membership, at $40, adds incentives. For an extra $20 you get: free bootleg download, Vinyl copy of the annual single, physical copy of Deep magazine, and a T-Shirt. Is it worth it? Well, that’s a great question.
Just prior to the revised structure, the band charged $20 for membership. This figure has incrementally increased since inception in the early 90’s as the TenClub’s overhead has likely increased over time. The material perks then were the annual single vinyl, a shot at Fanclub tickets, and Deep magazine. Other perks like discounts on Merch at various points during the year were nice, but you weren’t necessarily signing up because of them.
Tenclub members join for one reason: Fanclub seats. At $20, the Digital membership provides members with benefits similar to what they’re accustomed to. What you lose out on are physical copies of Deep and the annual single; you’ll get files via email instead of tangibles through snail mail. Analog or Digital, everyone still has the purchased right to stand in line for Fanclub seats.
Ultimately, upgrading your membership boils down to the incentives.
Free Bootleg: Meh. Bootlegs are a dime a dozen these days. We host them, they hosts them, and they host them too. This list goes on. A free bootleg is like an after-dinner mint: pleasant, but you don’t spend $200 bucks on a steak dinner for the mint. Plus is it “free” if you’re paying for it? Semantics. But, what was it that Jay said? “Why buy the cow when you get the sex for free?”
Vinyl copy of the annual single: Depends. Do you have a turntable? Are you a collector? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then this is a slice of fried gold. The sound produced by records is as good as it gets. If you’re happy with mp3’s however, this probably doesn’t mean much to you.
Physical copy of Deep magazine: Cute. Deep is fun, but it suffers the same problem that befalls contemporary magazines and newspapers; that is, it’s old news before you read it. You won’t find anything material in Deep you can’t already find on pearljam.com. Unless, of course, you consider Vegan banana bread recipes material. Regardless, even the Digital membership provides members with a copy so this incentive is for collectors only.
T-Shirt: Though it seems members won’t have a choice as to what t-shirt they get, unless TenClub plans on reissuing this, we can assume we’re getting something worthwhile. Generally, Pearl Jam threads are quality and interesting to boot. Owners of PJ socks can attest to this. The problem is, how many Pearl Jam t-shirts do you want in your wardrobe? You probably have 2 or 3 in rotation already. But what about 4 or 5? The longer you belong, the more you inherit. By 2015 you could have a separate drawer just for PJ t-shirts. And hey maybe that’s your thing, but like posters gremmie draws the line at 3 though.
So, Analog or Digital?
Clearly, collectors will go Analog. The extra $20 won’t make a difference to the folks who spend much more than that per year on Pearl Jam related paraphernalia. Digital benefits are fundamentally the same as what you were already getting.
gremmie is going Digital. goof still doesn’t belong to the TenClub. Can you believe that? I’m fine getting my fandom delivered to my Inbox. It’s evolution baby. While the extras Analog offers are decent, they’re not “must haves” for the likes of this poor sap. I suspect most gremmies feel the same.
Of note: points to the TenClub for not gouging their members by withholding better perks, particularly Fanclub seating, for higher paying members. True to form their philosophy remains the same: seniority (read: loyalty) reigns whether you pay $20, $40, or $1,000. On the whole, fans tend to take the TenClub’s approach for granted perpetually expecting more when they’re already getting it.
From a financial perspective, as your fanbase matures (gets older), they have more disposable income. As such, it behooves the TenClub to sell bigger ticket items with higher margins like VIP memberships that give members premium seating above lower paying members. The cost to the TenClub would be no greater than a standard membership, but they would be able to better tap into their fans’ larger pool of disposable income. It’s the music fanclub version of taking the high road, something Pearl Jam has consistently walked since the TenClub was founded. Here’s looking at you Tim Bierman.