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Getting Screwed By The (Little) Man [11/27/2007 04:45:00 PM]:
Y'know, I'm to the point with my cynicism that I almost expect to get screwed, on some level, by big corporations. I figure that if there's a way to get my money and not give me what I thought I paid for, they're gonna go for it. I've been burned before by a few companies/restaurants/car dealers, and even if I didn't eventually get my $$$ back, at least I could take comfort in the fact that hey, it's The Man, right? He's keeping everybody down, so at least I'm not alone.

What I don't tend to expect is when little indie music people screw me over. I've been fairly willing in the past to plunk down $10 via PayPal for Random CD I've Never Heard X by Band Z, partly because I really, truly like supporting indie artists directly (w/o filtering their dough through a record label, that is) and partly because, well, I figure they've got a pretty serious interest in actually sending me the CD.

Apparently that's not the case with local indie hip-hop guys Studemont Project, unfortunately. Waaaaaaay back in May, I ordered a copy of their Avenue of the Observatory CD, even asking 'em to send it to the casa so I didn't have to bother with the P.O. Box. I paid my $6.50 on PayPal and sat back to happily wait for the CD to arrive -- I'd wanted to hear these guys for a long time but, being that I don't get out as much these days, hadn't ever managed to see/hear 'em. So I was looking forward to seeing what they sounded like.

At the same time, though, I ordered the disc as part of a bit of an online CD-buying bender; right around the time I ordered the Studemont Project album, I'd also ordered the (utterly awesome) disc by Listen Listen, an EP by The Watermarks (also good), and The Church of Philadelphia's incredible CD. And since I tend to get a ton of CDs flowing across my desk, well, I kinda lost track of the SP order.

After a few weeks had passed, I remembered the order and emailed Gilbert, the guy listed on the PayPal details. No response. A few more weeks stretched into a month, and I emailed him again. I also tried to email Studemont Project at a "band" address I found somewhere (looks like their non-Myspace Website's down now). Nada.

I got busy with stuff at work again after that, so it wasn't 'til another couple of months later that I was able to try to contact the band or label again. Still no response. I filed an official complaint through PayPal, but neglected to read the fine print on the mediation stuff and let the time expire for the complaint. Argh. In an effort to give these guys the benefit of a doubt, I emailed 'em one last time, just a week or so ago. And again...nothing.

I've tried to contact these folks five times now over the past six months or so, with zero response, and that really, really pisses me off. It especially sucks because I'd heard Studemont were a great band, and I'd liked what I heard on their Myspace page. Like I said, I was looking forward to hearing the full-length. Now, however, I'm pretty furious. So fuck 'em. I tried this the cordial, relatively friendly way, but they didn't go for that, apparently. So I'm taking this a bit more "public," so to speak:

To the Studemont Project crew & the Esthetic Noise label: y'all, what the fuck? You happily took my money and then ignored any questions about the album I'd ordered; is this really how you treat your (at least prospective) fans? I sure hope I'm the only person you've screwed this way, 'cause it's really damn uncool. As a result of your lack of any kind of response on this, I now no longer give a shit what you sound like and am absolutely planning to avoid giving you any more of my hard-earned $$$ by catching your shows. You've lost a fan in me, that's for damn sure.

To the Houston-music-buying public at large: let the buyer beware when dealing with these people. I'm not passing any judgments on the music these guys make -- since, thanks again, I never got to hear it -- but if you decide to buy a copy of the Studemont Project's new(-ish) album any way other than in person, think twice. Don't get stuck like I did. I'm a big boy; the $6.50 isn't that big a deal to me at this point in my life, and I've already pretty much written it off. Not everybody has a decent day job like I do, however, so if you can't spare that money, you might consider carefully whether or not you want to give it to these folks. 'Cause if the way they've treated me is any indication, you're bound to get ripped off.

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