Spin Magazine has a thorough look at the modern industry problem of leaked records by Douglas Wolk.
There used to be a sort of gentleman’s agreement about new records: On the announced release date, they’d appear in stores, and magazines, newspapers, and radio stations would pretend that they’d suddenly sprung into existence on that particular Tuesday morning (or, in the case of a few big names, Monday at midnight). The only way to hear them earlier was to be in the music industry or a member of the press.
All that, of course, was before file-sharing became rampant — not just through old-fashioned peer-to-peer services, but by virtue of new technologies that can spread recordings widely and quickly. Nowadays, there is no such thing as an album that can’t be heard before its release date. Absolutely everything leaks. The question is when and how, and what that means for the future of music.
If you’re a fan of music, it’s pretty much assumed 9 out of 10 people are using new technologies to get their hands on records. It’s an interesting article, but one thing it doesn’t address is the fiduciary aspects of these leaks. I would have liked to have heard from more artists across the board regarding this. In essence, in just under a decade, a lot of artists have gone from suing Napster to embracing this form of promotion. How does this impact lesser known artists, ones music lovers would have never heard from in the days of terrestrial radio versus more established artists? I bet their takes are remarkable different.
The article doesn’t address, how most artists don’t make any money from their albums anyway and most of their financial windfalls come from touring, which makes a record nothing more than a promotional vehicle for their concerts.? The people who care and rightfully so, should care about leaks are the suits, since they are the ones who stand to lose money when records don’t get bought.
The other thing that wasn’t really addressed was how this makes more music available for more people.? If you live in a place that only has Best Buym Wal-Mart or Target, well, you probably can’t go down to your Indie record store and pick up albums outside of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Maroon 5.? Now, that’s not a knock on those particular artists (guilty as charged we sort of enjoy them all), but on the actual availability of excellent music.? Big box stores only carry certain artists.? If someone living near big box stores wanted to get their hands on the latest release from Blitzen Trapper or Iron & Wine or The Shaky Hands or Hepcat or Miracle Fortress or Page France or JJ Grey and Mofro or even Stars, there are too numerous examples of relatively obscure bands (we’ll call them midlevel established artists) that are huge within their respective niches, it’s almost sad to think big box stores don’t or won’t carry those releases.? It’s not difficult for someone living in LA or NY or Boston or any city with decent record stores to get their hands on those releases.
All of that is to say, that leaked albums, help certain bands make the leap from little known to established artist and I don’t think that was properly addressed in the article.
Or maybe I just didnt’ read it close enough… I guess I would have liked less cause of an album leak and more effect.