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

  • PARIS PERSHUN

    I BUY CD’s TILL THIS DAY…… NEWS FLASH MUFUCKAS: ALL NEW RELEASES AT BEST BUY AND TARGET ARE $9.99 THE ENTIRE FIRST WEEK. NOT TO MENTION MY FAVORITE CD STORE DOWN HERE “POOR MAN’S MUSIC”… THEY BE HAVIN SHIT FA THE LOW LOW… I BOUGHT MICHEAL JACKSON’S GREATEST HIT CD THAT CAME OUT IN LIKE 2006 FOR $6.99… NOT TO MENTION ALL THE OTHER CD’s I GOT FOR AROUND THE SAME PRICE THAT OTHER STORES WOULD CHARGE $14.99 FOR…… I ONLY DOWNLOAD MIXTAPES AND SHIT…. ALBUMS I BUY…. HENCE ME ALWAYS TURNIN SOMETHIN WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY THE FUCK UP…. ITS A CONSPIRACY!!!!!!!!

    (LEANS BACK AND TURNS “DIRTY DIANA” WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY THE FUCK UP))

    • http://www.myspace.com/emcdlthemusicprofile EmCDL

      Co-Sign

      I still buy cds myself, either at Best Buy, Amoeba, or this record store down the street from my house called Freakbeat Records…they stay having them ol school rap albums I’m still trying to catch up to for mad cheap.

      I think that what the blog above mentions, however, is also a good idea. Releasing online first to give people a taste of the music before its actually released is a good idea, and although me and a few people here and there buy cds, the rest of the population doesn’t; most of them just download the singles if anything. I think online sales is the way to go especially if your a do-it-yourself rapper.

      • http://www.myspace.com/maxprofit Max Profit

        They need to find a way to monitor all the music being downloaded on the net. Then artist could get thier royalties based on how popular they truely are.
        People would probably have to pay a little more for internet access but that extra money can go right into a fund that pays out royalties.

    • Chris Cash

      What up Paris?

      Where is the location of this Poor Mans Music you speak of?

      • PARIS PERSHUN

        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        RIGHT OFF SKILLMAN & AUDELIA IN NORTH DALLAS…… ITS IN THE SAME SHOPPING CENTER AS THAT SUBWAY, MICHELLE’S AND THAT CLOSED DOWN IHOP….

        • Zulu1925

          @ PARIS

          I know EXACTLY where you’re talkin’ ’bout! I used to live in North Dallas in ’99 in one of the many apartment complexes in the Forest Ln, Audelia, Skillman area, near 635.

        • PARIS PERSHUN

          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
          @ ZULU ….. THATS CRAZY…. ITS A SMALL ASS WORLD (OR SHOULD I SAY WEB)… HAVE YOU BEEN THRU THERE LATELY…. ITS BAD AS FUCK ROUND THERE… NIGGAS DIE LEFT AND RIGHT ON THE LANE (FOREST LANE)… THEY FINDIN BODIES EVERYWHERE ROUND THAT BITCH..,, STILL BE FUCKIN WIT THAT SPAINS CHICKEN THO…. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…

          (LEANS BACK AND TURNS “I’M BAD NEWS” WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY THE FUCK UP)

        • Zulu1925

          @ PARIS

          No, I haven’t been back to that part of Dallas since I left. Back then, dudes from New Orleans and Oak Cliff were beefing in those complexes. Since then, all of my homies (we’re from New Orleans) have settled down and moved to other parts of the Metroplex – away from the mayhem…

        • daz_oc

          Oh Snap!!!! Yall from the D too??!!?! Hell yea that Spains aka Big Mommas chicken is off the shizzle

    • yoprince

      i’m just curious… why do you all still buy CD’s??

      i mean.. is it just to have them? do you actually play them? where? in your car? at home??

      i’m not cheap, i buy albums on itunes. I don’t buy CDs cause I have no idea when i would need them. plus eventually it’d get scratched and i’d be pissed.. or i’d break the cover.. it’s just annoying.

      • $ykotic

        True. True.

        Nostalgia if anything. I’d love a n*99a out right now to put out an ACTUAL MIXTAPE.

        Yeah n*99a ON CASSETTE. Promo like a mo’fo.

        See where I’m @?

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

    There’s no way to stop album leaks. The amount of time & effort needed to completely revamp the system wouldn’t be worth it to the industry. If anything, an artist like Em is going to push more labels to focus on superstar-quality acts.

    His albums always leak & he always get huge sales numbers. So, cosmetically speaking, its not the leaking of the music, its the star power (or lack of) of the artist.

    I agree though, Vito, the ‘Net is where it is. That’s not changing. So, go with the flow. Coupled with the whole “Do It Yourself” ethos, labels may just give those “complete package” artists the most attention, cutting down on some of their expenses in the process.

    • nycboy

      I agree with you that Em is a megastar in himself, but the thing you gotta realize is that he has one thing that black rap artists don’t and thats a very strong following from white america. Eminem albums could do 10, 12 million easily. If you look at his latest effort, he really didn’t have a hot banging single but did some 600k in the first week. Not that the quality wasn’t there but when you have white america behind you, you’re gonna sell ridiculous numbers with or without a smash single.

  • Pierzy

    I agree with my dude Grand$. There’s no way to stop it. Em famously said that there was one copy of his album and he carried it everywhere but eventually you have to release it so that the album can actually be produced.

    If anything, make a fake release date, and then when it leaks, force the date up to the originally intended date. That’s all you can do.

    • Pierzy

      Also, the labels need to change the way they do business. They’re acting so slowly to adapt…why not change your business model?

      There’s a reason why 360 degree contracts are the new hot thing.

    • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

      Whatitdo P?

      Yeah, I like the fake release date idea. Especially with all the push backs that seem to be so rampant. Only thing with that though is, how would if affect SoundScan? We know how the industry loves their sales predictions/expectations.

      People have been saying for years that the record business is outdated. I agree with that. Its time for new measures & protocols.

      I like the idea of releasing it online first. That’s still a “leak” technically, but a legit one that can still earn the artist revenue.

      • Pierzy

        Does the exact week matter in terms of predictions? I doubt anyone took in the time of year when Em dropped. Maybe who else was dropping, but that’s only important when two artists that are expected to sell similar numbers drop on the same day. I love BO!2 but we knew that Em was going to sell more than the Blunt Brothers so the fact that it dropped in mid-May and not mid-June didn’t matter to the numbers.

        As soon as it leaks, release it “officially” online to be sold. Maybe sell it for cheaper online and if true fans want the actual disc, album artwork and everything else, they can choose to pay extra. Like a 2-disc DVD with all of the extras and watching the actors eat lunch vs. a stripped-down DVD with just the movie. If someone loved “The Dark Knight,” they can spend $30+ on a deluxe edition; if somebody never saw it and just wants to buy it, then can get the Shop Rite DVD for $10 or so…same thing with CDs.

        • http://www.myspace.com/sykoticwest $ykoticWest

          One day sale!

        • Jake Steed

          Love the Shoprite shout-out

  • Curtis75Blaxk

    @ Paris,
    I was thinking the same thing. Best Buy, 1st week = 9.99. Peeps spend more on Lunch and Dinner. I still buy my music till this day and have no problem with it. Funny thing about digital sales is that not everyone has access to a computer and we all know Itunes don’t rock on every cellular company. It would make sense to put it first on the net, I totally agree. We as fans, know Soundscan is full of shit and doesn’t mean your music is or not great, so why continue to bring up the topic ? To stop leaks, start firing motherfuckers !!

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    yeah, i dont feel like u can stop the leaking. unless… nope. shit wont stop.
    the only dumb question is the one that isnt asked so, here goes nothing… with itunes, u have to have an ipod, correct? okay. i dont even have an ipod & im sure there are a lot of other music lovers out there w/ no ipod. so its still a lot of money out there to get for the people who dont have itunes & just use limewire, datpiff, youtube & shit like that. if it was a way they could make money off those things, the labels could really make more $$$.

    • $ykotic

      Naw my brother. Any mp3 player works with iTunes. Or even a memory card that you can pop in your phone.

      Just last nite I DL’d that Swine Flu by Yayo and it had his “Hate” video on it. So the video is the ringtone now.

      IMO I think that’s the way to go. Give up the music, get paid with endorsements, merchandising, sponsorships, and tour money.

      But I still cop them CD’s @ the store. Miss digging in the crates though.

  • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

    I always thought about thissame thing, clovito.

    Would you buy more music if albums were like $2.99? Yes.

  • General

    There is no way possible to stop the leaks and it has definetely hurt sales for the music industry,

    I think eventually we are headed to all new releases being digital in the near future anyway, although I do only still cop CD’s. I think the first label that takes the bold move and does release their product to itunes and other digital retailers on line will be well ahead of the game…

    I think the most interesting point is that in doing this, they would most certainly trim a large majority of their costs…

    The biggest problem I see it that if there was no physical CD to buy, why wouldn’t I just go somewhere and download it for free instead of paying itunes or someone else…only way for this to happen would be for the government to put the clamps on the file sharing the way they did with Napster

  • Epinz

    That would depend on how many peaple purchase online as opposed to cds. Like with Em, did more people buy cds or were there more downloads?..also, I know this doesn’t benefit them much, or even if its true, but dnt most record labes buy a certain amount of cds anyway?…or they could just take ur idea and if u would prefer the cd, u could pre-order it and it would arive on the date the album was scheduled to b released. But like u said, there will b leaks regardless cuz once 1 person got it, they can copy the shit and post it up for free download. Imo, they’ll never stop leaks till they stop sellin cds. That when I thnk the leak is done, when its sent out for distribution.

    • clovito

      that’s a good idea, preordering. People could preorder the CD BEFORE it ships so that it could be included in Soundscan numbers.

      • $ykotic

        That’s how I do all of my CD’s. Call my homie at the store. Even had the first deluxe edition Em in Portland. All dude wants is a lil’ lettuce…

  • Bobo D

    I actually pre-order mine which makes it way cheaper, and the album usaully arrives at my door step day of release or within 2 days, delivery is free as well.

    The reason why record companies don’t feel like moving onto the digital sales is because
    1)There is no way of truely “policing” the internets. At least they can arrest the person who’s leaking the albums at the platic wrapping factory.
    2)Format sound of albums: WMA vs. MP3…
    3)Sharing of the files. Are they goning to code the files to be put on portable devices/cds. This may create more piracy issues.

  • clovito

    that’s a good idea, preordering. Maybe people could have the option to preorder the CD BEFORE they’re sent to pressing plants so that it could be included in SoundScan numbers

  • Zulu1925

    @ DJ Daddy Mack and Clovito

    Artistically, you’d like to sell 2 million copies at $2.99 each because more fans would legitimately own your work. But, as a business entity, selling 500K at $12.99 each is easily the best way to go in an economic sense – not only do you generate an extra half million dollars from pricing, but you save overhead costs from the 1.5 million copies you didn’t have to package, ship, insure, etc.

  • Epinz

    @zulu
    Good point. Also account the money spent to make and promote the album. They would NEVER make a profit!

    @a-town
    Feel u on that ngga. Sell it through all proper channels of internet sales. Shit, even through websites like this one. Write a blog on an artist or on the bangers section and give us the chance to purchase they’re material.

    They could control sharing by puttin sumthn in the software that would ruin the album if u tried to move or share it…but that would eventually b hacked into eventually…all good ideas, I just dnt c it stoppin unless they stop sellin cds.

  • Worley

    The online release thing is the best way to go. The distribution charges are much smaller and it greatly diminishes the chance of a leak. Physical albums on the other hand are susceptible to leaks all over.

    Case in point: I worked at a certain shipping company in NYC for a while. Def Jam would ship albums all over at least a week or two before the release date. Not surprisingly, all Def Jam packages would be “accidentally” dropped so we could see what was inside. The box would disappear altogether if it was that new Jigga. There is no way to stop it.

    • El Tico Loco

      Online releases would be good but that would alienate a good chunk of people, remember not every music lover has a pc, ipod or a cash alternative (card) but do support their artist so profitwise is not a good look, as far as leakproofing, I don’t know if is hackers or industry bystanders or whatever, why don’t they use storage that is not connected to the internets and safetybox that shit.

  • murK

    damn XXL, can i post something from time to time???

  • king blair

    labels need to create their own pressing plants and all cd’s should have an accompaning dvd or bonus to the music old cd’s had hidden tracks etc..

  • http://xxlmag.com PM

    whats the deal with this site, I post and the shit never shows up.

    This is what they do, ship blank cds with the album art n booklet n stuff. Have a instore kiosk that will burn the cd for you, or take it home and download it yourself. this solves the pre-release leaks.

    • clovito

      hmm really creative

  • KSA1001

    I actually buy cds [very rarely] when I want to support the artist, but it’s pointless b/c it just collects dust. I’ve already downloaded it online 2 weeks prior. I just do it assuming they’ll get the sales/portion of the money. No1 i know rocks physical cds. I got 160GB iPod that stays in the ride and i can hear whatever I want instantly.

  • http://www.myspace.com/onemanprod Oneman Beats

    yeah releasing it on itunes first may help but you cant do it a week before because people dont wanna wait to buy the cd if they know its leaked. They going to have to start taking tips from Prince. link up with a magazine or newspaper and have them buy it from the label and give it out with the paper or magazine. Maybe think of free things to give away along with the physical album that way the consumer feels they got something worth paying for besides the album.

    • $ykotic

      About time someone mention the king of all of this internet music download sh*t.

      PRINCE

  • http://www.myspace.com/onemanprod oneman Beats

    yeah PRINCE aint stupid. lol this is the article when he gave the music away for free in the newspaper
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6899478.stm

  • yoyoyoyo

    the big problem is…. albums are also leaked when they’re sent out to be mastered…

  • Thomas

    yoprince

    “i mean.. is it just to have them? do you actually play them? where? in your car? at home??”

    I still buy CD’s for a few reasons. They sound better in the car than my iPod. I rather listen an album on my “ok” home stereo than on my crappy speakers to my computer. As corny as it is going to sound….I still like looking at the album credits, art work, and ripping the package open.

    Lastly, I can’t fathom the thought of having my whole music collection on a folder on my desktop.

    Just doesn’t feel right. Makes the music more disposable sitting in that folder.

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