Letter From Jack Soden (EPE)

Here is a letter from EPE's CEO Jack Soden to the Elvis worldwide: Dear Elvis Fans It seems that over the last few weeks a number of you have become worried, confused and, in some instances, angry about things you have heard were said or done at Elvis Presley Enterprises. We have read many of the things that have been said and then repeated as fact over and over again on message boards and forums: things that supposedly were said by me, or members of our management team, in regard to Elvis fans, Fan Clubs and even the mission of Elvis Presley Enterprises. I have been surprised, disappointed and hurt by many of the things I have read. I am surprised by the complete lack of truth in so many of the statements. I am disappointed that there are people who are so quick to embrace ugly rumor and innuendo and we have all been hurt by the implication that the dedicated hard work of scores and scores of devoted Graceland employees has gone, at least amongst some fans, apparently unrecognized and unappreciated. I think this last point bothers me the most. Everyone at EPE and Graceland knows that our company, our responsibilities and our jobs exist because of the phenomenal Legacy of Elvis Presley and his millions of fans all over the world. Our company is comprised of dedicated, loyal, talented and incredibly hard-working people who give their all every day for a responsibility in which they invest immense amounts of time and in which they take tremendous personal pride. Most of these people work behind the scenes. Their jobs are as varied and diverse as this great responsibility requires. They are archives and accounting, maintenance and marketing, conservation and creative, media management and merchandise, lawns and licensing, tours, security and shuttles. The list goes on and on. Only a relative handful of these hard-working people are charged with the responsibility of communicating with the fans and fan clubs but, believe me, the ones that are know that they represent a much larger dedicated team working behind the scenes. Throughout Elvis’ career, in the years immediately following his death, and ever since Graceland was opened to the public in June of 1982, the Elvis Fan Clubs have been an active and dynamic tribute to his lasting Legacy of music, love and generosity. The Fan Clubs were, are, and always will be the backbone of the “Elvis Phenomenon.” Not only do the Fan Clubs spread the word and keep the flame alive but, in Elvis’ name and memory, they raise thousands of dollars every year for a multitude of charities and causes all over the world. The Fan Clubs bring immense value to the memory, the Legacy, and the business of Elvis Presley. That fact is clearly understood by me, and all within EPE and any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue. Starting from the summer of 1982 and to this day it has always been obvious to us that Elvis Fan Clubs were unique in the world, unique and apart from The Estate, and unique from one another. That, in my opinion, has always been one of the most exciting and dynamic things about them. Think what a mistake it would be to attempt to organize them into one big, homogenous, bureaucratic “blob.” It would mean the loss of the most amazing, spontaneous, diverse, independent, and influential fan network in the world. To the contrary, we see EPE’s contribution to the Fan Clubs as one of support for their individuality, and to be there with heartfelt encouragement, recognition and appreciation. We are here as a resource! Twice each year we, as a company, have wanted to do something special for the Fan Clubs, their Presidents and their officers. The Fan Club President’s Luncheon represents an opportunity for Graceland and EPE to show their respect and appreciation. But more important, it represents an opportunity for clubs, amongst their peers, to be recognized for their many charitable activities and accomplishments. We hope to see the diversity, strength and numbers of Fan Clubs continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead. We hope there will be Elvis Fan Club President’s Luncheons for years to come and we know that we will continue to search for ways to show our appreciation. Also, we know that there will always be wonderful Fan Clubs and Fan Club members; but not because of any person or persons at Graceland. After all, we did not create Fan Clubs. They exist because of the timeless Legacy of Elvis Presley and the tireless work of his devoted fans all over the world. We will do what we can, and should, do. We will listen a lot and we will be there with all the support and help that is asked of us. Looking forward, we are very excited about this summer. July 5th and the 50th Anniversary “Moment In Time” are fast approaching. It will be a very special day and the celebration will continue through Elvis Week. I am greatly anticipating Elvis Week for another reason as well. I am looking forward to listening to and talking with Elvis fans and Fan Club members as often and as much as time will allow. I cannot remember a time, at least in the recent past, that I have seen such misunderstanding, misinformation and, as a result, such concern on the part of people whose happiness we care about. We can be good listeners and I know fans can be passionate talkers. Together I know we can find common understanding and common purpose. The next few years will see some of the finest new programs, projects and releases ever in our history. We will provide all the help and support possible to the Fan Clubs and, most importantly, with the help and support of the Fan Clubs the world will be reminded just why there is only one Elvis Presley! Thank you, Jack Soden CEO Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. June 22, 2004
Source: EPE - Elvis Presley Enterprises / Updated: Jun 22, 2004 
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EPwatcher (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2004report abuse
Just let me enlighten a few of you. Mr. Soden is on the defense because of the recent situation surrounding Patsy Andersen. Patsy recently left E.P.E. over a salary dispute and because of Patsy's close relationship with the Elvis fans over the years, many of the fans became outraged. I even found myself spouting off about it until I settled down and thought more about it. I truly think that the Elvis fans in general have been pampered so much that they feel they can actually scream and have E.P.E. bow to their every wish. E.P.E. is a business, a successful bussiness that cannot have the average fans off of the street telling them who should be working for them and how much they should be paid. That's a business dispute and honestly, not our business. Many fans have web sites and more defending Patsy and bashing Jack and E.P.E.! They even say that the Fan Club Presidents are not treated fairly...jeesh! This gets sickening after a while. We, as Elvis fans, get more than most fans could ever dream of getting...yes, we pay for it but it us who want all of this stuff...so we SHOULD pay for it. Well, that's the jist of it anyway. Just some fan club presidents shouting to get more attention and more freebies. Guess free Luncheons and CD's are just not enough. Smile! Elvis belongs to all of us no matter what!
pacer1965 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2004report abuse
Please could someone tell me what Jack is referring too. One minute his saying that he is fed up of our complaints and then at the end of the letter his saying he wants to talk to Elvis fans and to listen to what they have to say. And i do think EPE do a great job but if Elvis fans cannot give there opinions how are EPE suppose to know what we want ?
cyn (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2004report abuse
also jack's spiel is pure rhetoric and i don't even know what he's referring to
cyn (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2004report abuse
In general I agree with u espenK but i do believe the contemporary music scene is rather depressing and has been for decades. I'm 21 and my friends/family think i'm quite strange for loving elvis to this degree. they play pop and so-called rnb all the time. i really hate the mainstream music and think it has sunk to desperate levels. elvis might have made a point of not criticising other forms of music saying there's a place for everything but that's cos he was not raised on the aural assault that one is inevitably subjected to in these jaded times. there is a spiritual disease and everyone's cynical, everything's already been done and nothing is ever fresh or new, it seems. i agree that a lot of people will just never be touched by elvis and that trying to make them come to know the greatness that we know will only lead to disappointment when they can't.
EspenK (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 23, 2004report abuse
I just want to comment on the neverending complaints about lack of promotion.
What makes you so sure a huge promotion is all thats missing from "world Elvis-domination"? Im not so sure about that.
You can talk about allc all you like, but the Nike deal PLUS the fact that it was an excellent remix of an excellent track for that years market (why do you think Nike chose it?) makes that event an exception. Dont even dream of something like that to happen over and over, year after year. Lets just hope it will happen again, sometime.

To us, who dream/drink/eat/think Elvis 24/7, the '68 show is absolutely excellent, we get goosebumps for each frame of those clips. For others, this is a show from the stone age, from when their parents were young. Its like if a new, special edition of, say, an Abba concert in the 70s, or Rolling Stones in the 60's get released. Would we go buy it, even if we saw ads about it on the tv every single day? I know I wouldnt!

When Jim claim that "The music world is in crisis at the moment and is crying out for somebody like Elvis to save the day" I wonder what world he live in. The music world today is FLOODED with artists of all kinds! If he mean economical crisis, thats cause of the piracy on the net, not cause the world lack artists!

And dont give me the "music today is only repetitive digital blip blop" crap, thats pure bull.

All we can and should demand, is good Elvis products to be released TO THE FANS, without errors, sloppy flaws or lawyer stuff that spoils the release. Thats all. Everything more than that is a nice bonus. Dont go around dreaming of Elvis being something he isnt, you'll only get disappointed over and over.
andy0862 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 23, 2004report abuse
epe are doing a fine job in my opinion. although Elvis has been gone for nearly 27yrs, the products available for us fans are way better than anything released whilst he was alive. i dont just mean the improved technology (dvd, cd, video) but more in way of the great compilations sets released through bmg and ftd. as well as the material on dvd that has been released or is forthcoming. ive not made it to graceland yet but will one day and am excited in the knowledge that it has been developed into a fine "musem" to elvis' life.
yeah there are things, i still want to be available, on tour on dvd , in concert on dvd , ttwii extra material etc etc.
my only complaint is that, i dont have the money to buy all the things available that i want...........that cant be too bad as better that than nothing to buy.
Ton Bruins (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 23, 2004report abuse
Jack...blah..blah..blah..blah..just defending business.
Jim Semple (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 23, 2004report abuse
We only complain out of the frustration, that at times, Elvis and his library of material deserves so much better attention than what it receives. My biggest moan is always about the zero promotion and marketing that Elvis generally receives in the UK. We are told that as from July, there will be a lot of TV adverts etc to promote the Aloha and 68 Special DVDs which is good news I am pleased to say. Personally, I have to say that I cannot understand the logic of starting a promotional campaign AFTER a product has been released, a good few months in advance would have worked wonders, but anyway, its good to have promotion full stop. We as Elvis fans care that we do not want another 2nd To None, Rubberneckin or Ultimate Gospel where these releases generally flopped worldwide. Why was that ? No other reason than the lack of promotion. Ok, I appreciate that we don't have a World Cup every year, but when you tie in something like that with Nike, the results were astounding (ALLC). The music world is in crisis at the moment and is crying out for somebody like Elvis to save the day. I sincerely hope these DVDs sell well, because if they don't, you can be sure we will not get Elvis on Tour Part 2 as Turner and Co will be monitoring the sales figures and we cannot afford another TTWII or Suspicious Minds (UK release), where due to the fact, most people do not know the product is out there, then very few people will buy it. So yes, it may sound like myself and others constantly moan but sometimes you have to make yourself heard. The world is a big place you know, its not just the USA that should receive all the publicity. The UK has probably the largest Elvis following of any country, so come on and lets start producing the goods, Elvis deserves it !
Dan The Man (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 22, 2004report abuse
I think the majority appreciate the work and devotion EPE, BMG and FTD are doing, it's just that it's a silent majority. Somehow it's always the complainers who cry out loudest, especially on web forums. Keep up the good work and have a nice day.
jb gude (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 22, 2004report abuse
Dear Mr.Soden,

I have been critical of EPE for many of the things you have done or sometimes,not done.

I have requested you(EPE) on this message board as also on one other to please involve fans from ALL OVER the world in your projects especially where you rely on a "feedback" -prime examples being the TTWII-SE and the current DVDs.

Ten genuine fans allowed to watch it together on a TV screen and allowed to stop & start the tape would have given you a better objective review than the many gushing pleins of praise "fantastic ,stupendous,magnificent " among other adjectives.

It might be cheaper for you to ask fans visiting Memphis in Jan or Aug to give their opinions.However the drawback is that 99% of these fans (and to be honest even I, if I were to be in Memphis) are carried away with the atmosphere and the associated excitement to really notice the bloomers.

Despite your attempts, to sound like the caring, loving patron, like this foray to elvisnews.com;pleading you case, you EPE,come off most of the time with a certain haughty, "I could'nt be bothered" attitude.

Now you may deny it and try to ignore it: but that is the opinion many of us have of EPE.You may like to find to find out why.

Take a little thing like the cover for the sets .You said the Aloha cover depicted is just the "inside carton" and not the outer cover - it may be that BMG blundered on that -but you are the guys who announced it, not BMG.So not fair to blame you? What about publicity for these DVDs- when do you plan it ? if July 5th was your way of using the media to generate (free) cascading publicity, why not release these sets on July 5th ? When do you think the maximum sales might be generated -the first week, without any publicity ? We have waited years for this release, and overall it is indeed a very good one,do you think sales would be poorer ? surely we would have survived two more weeks without these sets.

You might realise that many of us complain not because we have an axe to grind.We simply want Elvis to be on top.I personally have just about all of Elvis I could want ok maybe the unseen bits of the "On tour" and "TTWII" - but I really could not be much affected if tomorrow EPE and BMG decided to close shop and sit on their eggs.
Please remember winners generate a lot of good will. Remember the high of getting a world wide smash with " Little less Conversation" ? I guess you know the number of new fans(and customers) it brought you ?

Try involving your organisation on polls - it does not cost much to set up one online,to ask the fans what the want or dont like -that would be a very big first step.
Thank you for listening.

col (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 22, 2004report abuse
Here here Jack Soden!! There is a hardcore of Elvis fans who seem to be remarkably objectionable, rude and unappreciative. It is very sad that the guardians of EPE should feel undervalued and upset whilst they are trying to take care of business. All Elvis fans know that these 'gossipers' do Elvis a gross misservice. Web forums and web sites should perhaps be moderated more strictly by their editors to 'control' contributions that are obviously full of malice and venom. Of course criticism and differences of opinion have to be encouraged and respected and of course some projects by EPE and BMG miss the mark, that is the nature of the business -but the responses from some contributors are hurtful and unintelligent. These 'fans' actually do more harm to Elvis than anyone else, broadcastors and editors make no secret of the fact that these 'extreme' fans make working on Elvis stories or projects sometimes fairly unpleasant. So Jack Soden I greatly appreciate the work that you and your team undertake to allow me to experience Elvis in many new ways and on a regular basis. I would be happy to shake your hand anyday. Jim Semple and gang may I respectively ask that if you have strong criticisms, which is often, can you please find a way of communicating them in a more humble way. Elvisnews is an eCommunity whereby we can all share in hot Elvis topics and updates and debate them constructively- it is not a place to make visitors feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.
gribz (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 22, 2004report abuse
Hi Jack I've been one of the most dedicated Elvis fans since 1973. I have been getting calls and e-mails from several people believing rumours and running with it. I try to tell them to wait and see what is true and factual, before reacting with such emotion. Many of them have agreed. Good luck. Most of us will alway's be there... This is a great year, and it's time for "The Sun To Rise Again!!! Craig, from N.Y.
Jim Semple (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 22, 2004report abuse
I'm not quite sure what specifically Jack Soden is referring too? Is he upset at all the criticism about the Elvis dogs or the Aloha cock ups?!?

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