Leakage…Release…What is He Talking About?
One of the bigger issues surrounding digital music is the leaking of material before the release date. Obviously, this created an issue for any band that was really trying to make a massive splash with their core fans and really boost week one sales. Everyone was so damned concerned that their music not be leaked online. Consider the case of Guns n’Roses, “Chinese Democracy.” Axel and company made everyone wait 13 years for a new album and a blogger with an advance copy had to go and post it on the internet. Tsk, tsk, young internet warrior. Savvy pirates and downloaders got their G n’ R on a week or two ahead of the masses, and now some blogger may find himself in jail (gasp!). However, what really happened was that the record label got a boat load of free PR prior to the release, week one sales got a big boost (even though lawyers sucking the bands and labels dry say otherwise), and the Gunners finally get some press over someone not in the band getting busted.
Consider another story of unintentional leakage (that might be my favorite saying for the next month). Buckcherry got their undies all in a bunch over the leak of a rather randy video of “Too Drunk.” They even issued a press release bemoaning those responsible for the egregious copyright violation and told fans to not to participate in such shenanigans. According to multiple articles, the leak can actually be traced back to the band’s management through the source IP address. The result was a ding to the über indie-cred reputation of the band, but ultimately gave a group that normally lives outside of mainstream PR channels, a boost in popularity. Don’t get me wrong, Buckcherry is certainly my cup of tea and I realize that you got to do what you got to do to get heard out there these day, but please, don’t play your fans for chumps. I’d rather have you say, “Hell yeah we made it all up. Suckers! Wait until our next stunt…” Own it.
Is there a point here? Sure. I want to make it clear that there are two kinds of music fans. Those who pay for music. Those who don’t. Very few people are in between, and bands have to embrace both audiences. The leaking of music actually affects both groups. Consider Rascal Flatts. You don’t need to be a country music fan to know the enormity of their popularity. They’ve got enough awards to fill the Grand Ole Opre, one of the highest grossing tours and a major retail partnership with JC Penney. Their new album, “Unstoppable,” was released yesterday. My guess is that it’ll be number one in sales by the end of the week. Prior to that, they themselves dropped an early single, previewed the album online, didn’t make a fuss when it showed up on various illegal sites ahead of time and here it is, one day after it’s official release (it was actually up yesterday), on Qtrax. Free and legal. For all to enjoy. Well, for all of those in the US with PCs to enjoy (for the moment).
Leaking music can help to inspire sales, gain some PR and even engage with new fans that don’t pay for music, but will pay for a concert tickets, t-shirts, official keg meisters or inflatable furniture. Leakage, although sometimes an issue is not going to hurt you too much in the long run (wait, did I just say that out loud?).
Let it be said that there really isn’t a blueprint for artists to follow anymore. It’s all in flux. A giant industry of trial and error. Certainly, there are some folks (Rascal Flatts) going about their business of self-promotion the right way which others can follow as an example. Other bands aren’t doing quite as well, but I bet they’re learning. Don’t take it personally if your favorite band goofs things up a bit. After all, it’s just business.
This entry was posted on April 9, 2009 at 1:32 am and is filed under ad supported, Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Qtrax Blog, Uncategorized with tags Buckcherry, Rascal Flatts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.