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Plugging the Leaks

It’s pretty much a given these days that if an artist has an album coming out, at some point it’s gonna leak. If not for premature releases, labels would be making considerably more money than they are now and the industry would be in better shape. I’m just surprised that the labels haven’t yet changed their practices to better avoid or deal with these leaks, other than trying to remove all the files online, which is completely useless. The artists try to keep their material under wraps for as long as possible to delay the leakage but as my homie Rob the Music Editor pointed out once, leaks usually happen when the albums are sent to the distribution factories to be pressed. My question is, why not put the music online first?

The Internet is where virtually all new music is discovered first – in hip-hop anyway – so once the album is done, the labels should make it available on iTunes. Make the release date for the album that same day. This would happen before the album is even sent out to be pressed up. Of course that doesn’t mean the free versions won’t be all over the Web (and the iTunes version would leak for sure), but at least there would be something that fans could actually purchase. The album won’t be leaked before its “release date” and people would have an opportunity to buy it.

After the album is released through iTunes, that’s when the labels should send it out to pressing for the people who’d like to buy the actual CDs. We’ve already established that fewer people are buying CDs so it’s not like there’s a big market there anyway. Rap albums these days are selling typically 30,000-80,000. For those who get their music online, just give the people what they want.

One problem: this would obviously affect SoundScan figures and I feel like that’s the thing holding back any major overhauls. They could just count the iTunes sales as the first week sales, but if the digital purchases are less than the physical, then initial sales numbers would be thin and we all know that in the music industry, perception is everything. I’m sure there’s other minor details I don’t know about that would hinder this solution but I don’t see how something couldn’t be worked out if labels really want to make more money and sustain. It’s already clear that the whole system needs overhauling. I also don’t understand why albums aren’t cheaper given their depreciation. Do you have any solutions for album leaks? Would you buy more music if albums were like $2.99? -clovito

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