Leakage…Release…What is He Talking About?

unstoppable-fan-album-cover-chris-kubik
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.

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9 Responses to “Leakage…Release…What is He Talking About?”

  1. luckybleu Says:

    It seems like every artist out there should support qtrax,even your trent resnor ‘s and radiohead who already give their music away on p2p sites,they could release a knew alblum 1st on qtrax ,give their fans the free music everyone craves and make some $$ too,Im sure with the right money grubbing lawyers in place you could have huge big name acts to relese their new alblums on qtrax.Everyone except metalica, LARS mainly they shouldn’t be allowed to get a slice of the free music pie…WAHhhhhh Lars

  2. what would happen to Qtrax if everyone strips their Qtrax downloads of drm?

    • At that point they may as well just be downloading material illegally in the first place because what they are doing isn’t licensed, and is therefore illegal. So long as the DRM isn’t too limiting in terms of the range of portable devices available, that won’t be a problem.

      • David,
        We’re with you on this my man. However, people are going to do what they’re going to do. We ask that they keep the DRM in tact and make it rather difficult to do otherwise because we want to fairly compensate the artists and publishers.

  3. luckybleu Says:

    Doggy, You have jump through alot of hoops to strip drm ,its true nobodys going to go through that, they would just use the existing bit torrent sites,and they will never stop unless the riaa shuts these sites down.
    Qtraxer, just since you posted this article more leaks , marilyn manson -the high end of low ,web leak 4/7 official release date 5/26/09
    peaches -I feel creme web leak 4/8 release date 5/4 more.
    my latest novel
    sonic boom six
    white rabbits 12 alblums all leaked since you posted this article , more leaking going on here than a nyc subway platform

  4. I think you are wrong Luckybleu. Lots of user friendly drag and drop drm strippers out there now. The smart ones who used spirofrog, stripped the drm from the material they downloaded, and kept their’ libraries after the company went bust. Why should the consumer pay for the demise of a company after they put in the work to download and build their’ libraries? As far as Davids’ point of “may as well go illegal” concerning drm stripping, I think that is missing an important point. I don’t think the fact that’s it’s illegal is deterring people from doing it. Qtrax has to be a better alternative, a better experience than the illegal ones, to attract those people. And DRM will not cut it IMO. People want freedom along with their’ free. The internet provides freedom, and access to free. It may not be too much to ask people to report back to headquarters (qtrax) so they can know how many times you listened to what, but in some ways it is intrusive to a freedom I have already become accustomed to. At least with i-tunes drm was just to restrict sharing. It seems with Qtrax you have to play by the rules, otherwise you could lose your’ library. Regardless, we’ll let the consumer decide how they want to get their’ music, and what they want to do with it. It is clear drm is not the way of the future. And I’m pretty sure they are well aware of that at Qtrax, as we have already heard of drm free qtrax in the future.

  5. by the way, I like this instant post stuff. Going through a mod is always a little on the non “free” side. Speaking of, did they fire the mod, or decided we were free to speak our’ minds with out moderation?

    • I’m here. Sometimes you guys’ conversation is just better, and I like to listen. Just keep it fairly clean, factual and to the point, and there is no need to moderate this forum too much. You make good points about the DRM. Our stance on our DRM remains pretty simple. It’s there to count plays which is the best way to fairly compensate publishers. If all artists and songs were created equal we could provide a flat fee back based on downloads. That’s not the case. Let’s also remember that the notion of DRM is more hype than anything else. There are people who won’t tolerate it and there are many alternatives if this is the case. For the vast majority of users, which is the context this needs to stay in, the DRM ultimately won’t matter.

      I’ll post again tomorrow when I’m out of my ham and Masters coma.

  6. Qtraxer,
    The article that you linked to on Twitter, what does that mean? I thought the “US preview” had already launched, but that article makes it sound like it is going to happen this Thursday. Does that mean that V1.1 will be released on Thursday?

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