A lot of great music came out yesterday, and many of you ran out to your favorite record store to pick up the new Spoon album or the new Interpol, perhaps. But are others of you who instead thought, “What, that old thing? I thought it had been out for a while now.” That’s because you’ve been sitting on the leaked album for a couple of weeks, or even a month or more. These day, albums due out in August and September leak in June or July. Sure, most people don’t illegally download music, but if you look at just numbers, most people aren’t going to listen to that New Pornographers album sitting on your hard drive in any form anyway because most people don’t like indie rock! Most people like Madonna and, apparently, The White Stripes — and Jack and Meg did just fine despite the early leak of their new album, thank you.
Like it or not, music labels need to figure how to keep turning a profit as the rules change beyond their control. While the RIAA continues to go after college kids downloading in dorm rooms (who, as we all know, have unlimited disposable income!), the smaller labels try more innovative methods, like releasing full album streams to appease anxious listeners, providing bonus packaging for those who purchase the actual album, or, as in the case of Stars and their label Arts & Crafts, releasing the album in digital form just four days after receiving the final master.
The label’s website yesterday revealed that the album entitled In Our Bedroom After The War, which is not scheduled to hit shelves until September 25, would be available for online purchase, effective immediately:
Traditional music business practice says we are to begin sending out copies of this album now. We give advance copies to print publications in hopes of securing features that coincide with our September date. We meet with radio stations in hopes of securing airplay. etc, etc.
Inevitably someone will leak the album.
Throughout this process, the most important people in this value chain, the fans, are given only two options – wait until September 25th to legally purchase the new album or choose from a variety of sources and download the album for free, at any time.
We hope you’ll choose to support the band, and choose to pay for their album. However we don’t think it’s fair you should have to wait until September 25th to do so.
We believe that the line between the media and the public is now completely grey. What is the difference between a writer for a big glossy music magazine and a student writing about their favourite bands on their blog? What differentiates a commercial radio station from someone adding a song to their lastfm channel? or their myspace page?
The statement reveals forward thinking — or, more so, an understanding of the current climate caused by the internet — that other labels seem to lack. Removing restrictions on legally downloaded music was a first step. Now, making the music readily and reasonably available will further prove that music purchasing isn’t a thing of the past, only that it’s shifted venues.
Try as you may, you won’t find The Cure‘s next album on the file sharing networks ’cause it isn’t completed yet. According to Billboard, Robert Smith isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with his label (not a shocker, really). The spider-mopped Smith hopes to release his own mix of the album as a double-disc set priced as a single disc because “It is almost impossible to get a double album nowadays.” Conceding that he believed his “standing as an artist would push aside all objections, but the world gets ever more commercial as it turns,” he speculates that the label (Geffen) might want to provide their own single-disc mix. Possible tracks to make either the one- or two-disc cut include such cheery numbers as “Lusting Here in Your Mind,” “The Hungry Ghost,” “The Perfect Boy,” “Christmas Without You,” and “Please Come Home.” A few of the songs were originally penned in the ’80s but will receive a contemporary update.
Not to worry, when The Cure arrive at a city near you, as they will be in Seattle on October 8 — dude, we have a presale starting tomorrow, July 12! Check out our events page for the password — Smith assures fans that there will be a few new songs mixed in with plenty of past favorites, stating, “the idea of going out and doing a two-and-a-half-hour show and including 10 or 12 new songs would actually be really awful.” Fortunately, Smith realizes, “Anyone coming to a Cure show isn’t going to go home and think about buying the album. They’ve already made their minds up by the fact they’ve bought a ticket to see us.”
Stereogum is offering up something to Radiohead fans for free: a cover album to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of OK Computer. This song-by-song tribute, which they are calling OKX, includes artists who are Stereogum favorites, not necessarily those most influenced by the band. In keeping with the themes of the album, Stereogum writers acknowledge, “we embrace the irony of releasing OKX as a series of MP3’s sent to us by their makers via email and enjoyed by you on a computer. Kissing might still include saliva, but putting together and playing a record no longer requires human contact. In our over-documented, blogged, reality televised, YouTube/MySpace realm — ‘a town where you can’t smell a thing’ — OK Computer‘s sense of vacuum-packed alienation remains presciently relevant.” If you’d like to hear Cold War Kids, John Vanderslice, Vampire Weekend, and other fantastic artists performing songs on the album (for free!), go straight to the source.
Thankfully, videos are still free. Here’s the latest by Ryan Adams, from his new album Easy Tiger. Check out the retro action on “Halloweenhead.” Really boring, or oddly hypnotic?
[Oops. Never mind. I guess some things are not totally free! Looks like you’ll have to visit YouTube to watch the video.]