Music fans everywhere took a collective sharp breath in, when it was revealed that the human reincarnation of evil, pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, has a silent investment in Brooklyn-based record label Collect.
For those of you who haven’t yet heard about this capitalist thug, he’s the 32-year-old former hedge fund manager and current CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who bought the rights to Darapim, a medication used to treat HIV and cancer, and raised the price from $13.50 to $750. No, that’s not a typo. The morally bankrupt decision could affect millions all over the world, preventing those who can’t afford the medication from having a viable chance of long-term survival.
The price gouging has created a media maelstrom, and the collateral damage has spilled over into Collect, whose clientele are eager to distance themselves from the heartless investor.
Speaking to Noisey, Geoff Rickly, the label exec and singer for Thursday and No Devotion, said he had no idea that Skreli had made the decision to raise the price of the medication and is “struggling to find how this is OK.”
“My head is still spinning, and though I want to believe that there is some reason that he would do this that is some remotely positive way, the only thing I can see is that it is totally and completely heartbreaking,” said Rickly.
“I can’t see my future at all in the label. I have to see what the bands want first, and see if there is any meaning or any mission following all of this. More than anything, I want the bands to see that I hold art as the guiding force in my life.”
Philadelphia-based band Nothing have also on board with the exodus, with lead singer Dominic Palermo citing the immorality of the decision informing their decision to try leave.
“Nothing will never be a part of a label that involves Martin,” said Palermo. “I hope we can separate ways without things getting any uglier than it is now.”
Three bands on Collect Records pay roll — Nothing, Wax Idols and Sick Feeling — released statements saying that while they supported Mr. Rickly, they would not continue to work with the label if Mr. Shkreli was involved.
Luckily for Palermo and Rickly, Collect Records have officially severed ties with Martin Shkreli, as explained in the statement released on the 23 September:
Today, Collect Records — with the support and encouragement of all of our artists — have agreed to fully sever our relationship with Martin Shkreli, effective immediately.
When I decided to get into business with Martin, we took him on as a patron. He was completely silent and allowed us to do business as we pleased. His only ask was that we sign bands that we believed could make great art given the right environment and not to focus on a profit, no matter how dire the bottom line.
Never in a million years did any of us expect to wake up to the news of the scandal that he is now involved in. It blindsided and upset us on every level. As such, we know it is impossible for us to continue having any ties with him. For my part, I’ve always strived to make Collect a place that was so liberal, encouraging, and artist-friendly that no one would ever walk away from us willingly, though to do so at any time would be very easy. To that end, I hope that our bands continue to believe in our guidance and passion. Any of them that have had an incurable crisis of confidence will be allowed to leave with nothing but the kind of encouragement that we’ve built our label on.
For all the kind words of encouragement that I’ve received over the past two days, I’m forever grateful.
From all here at Collect Records, thank you.
In an interview with the New York Times, Rickly said he met Shkreli the businessman paid $10,000 for a guitar he had used to write the Thursday album Full Collapse in 2001.
Skreli then offered to be an investor in Rickly’s fledgling label, owning just under a 50 percent stake in the company and investing around $600 000 in the company.
In an interview Skreli stated that he didn’t make a profit from the investment with collect and just wanted to be a patron for musicians he respected.
Speaking of Collect Records’ decision to remove him, Shkreli said “I don’t like it — I want to be involved in all this — but I respect their decision. They can move forward from here. I kickstarted the company. I’m not the kind of guy that takes back a — if they can find a new investor, great, if they go out of business then it is what it is.”
“They can move forward from here. I kickstarted the company. I’m not the kind of guy that takes back a — if they can find a new investor, great, if they go out of business then it is what it is,” he added.
However, Rickly said that losing Shkreli’s financial support may result in the Label’s closure.
“This is going to end the career of the record label, no doubt,” said Rickly.
“If I were a band on the label I would be having a serious crisis of faith right now. The amount of money I have in the bank doesn’t cover my outstanding invoices. It’s devastating.”
It would seem that a conscience does a have a price.