I thought The Raconteurs’ announcement that their latest disc, available both digitally AND physically this Tuesday, one week ago was pretty fucking right on as far as dealing with the whole album leak thing. The notion of just getting it out there and then promoting after it was available seems pretty in step with where the industry is headed, and I still don’t know how they wrangled all the physical distribution channels so quickly and so quietly.
I guess they didn’t count on someone over at Apple posting the disc as being available on iTunes yesterday, leading to a bunch of folks buying the disc 5 days before it was supposed to be released. In a digital file-sharing culture this is the same as leaking the album 3 months ago, since the internet critics will be falling all over each other to give their definitive views of the album.
Personally I’m going to hold off until Tuesday. Waiting week for an album is nothing tome … heck I used to have to wait months before I could hear something, and that was even backing the days when we always got mailed physical promos due to long lead times (a practice that is quickly growing extinct). I understand folks are excited about new music, and especially excited about anything with Jack White and Brendan Benson’s name on it, but just this once, when the band went through great lengths to a) NOT keep everyone waiting and b) expose everyone to their new album at the same time, would it have killed folks to wait it out the extra few days?
Additionally, his isn’t the first time a greatly anticipated album has “accidentally” been offered for sale through iTunes prematurely, so shouldn’t someone be asking some serious questions about just what the heck is up over there?
This just in from White / Benson / et al:
“Album” meaning: full length vinyl, CD and digital formats; and “everywhere” meaning: local mom and pop Indie retailers, corporate superstores, supermarkets, iTunes, Amazon, the band’s own website and any other location that could get the record up and going this quickly (some places couldn’t move this fast, so they will join in as soon as they can).
It contains 14 new recordings and is being released globally on Third Man Records in conjunction with our marketing/distribution partners, XL Recordings and Warner Brothers Records.
The album was mastered and completed in the first week of March. It was then taken immediately to a vinyl pressing plant. Then to a CD pressing plant. Then preparations to sell it digitally began. March 25th became the soonest date to have it available in EVERY FORMAT AT ONCE. The band have done no interviews or advertisements for this record before this announcement.
The purpose: to get the album to the fans as soon as possible and as we promised. We wanted to get this record to fans, the press, radio, etc., all at the EXACT SAME TIME so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding it’s availability, reception or perception.
With this release, The Raconteurs are forgoing the usual months of lead time for press and radio set up, as well as forgoing the all important “first week sales”. We wanted to explore the idea of releasing an album everywhere at once and THEN marketing and promoting it thereafter. The Raconteurs would rather this release not be defined by it’s first weeks sales, pre-release promotion, or by someone defining it FOR YOU before you get to hear it.
A little birdie told us this morning that the Van Halen tour (was it ever actually “officially” canceled?) is back on.
But they’re still not playing SXSW. And neither is Led Zeppelin. Or Radiohead.
Folks who purchased Ghosts I-IV but were unable to download (um, like us) were told to try again with the links they were sent via email. So I did. And this is what I got:
Hey, we did click on the original link, folks. And, adding insult to injury: please note they misspelled “original.” There seem to be bigger problems going on under the hood over there than a simply overtaxed engine, huh?
I like Trent Reznor’s approach and embrace of digital downloading. I like it so much that I decided to fork out $5 for the full version of his just -released Ghosts I-IV, the instrumental album he just popped onto the internets this morning. I like financially supporting music that tries to push the sales model like Reznor has been doing, and after downloading the Niggy Tardust album a while ago, I expected the process to go seamlessly.
Well, not so much.
The parts where I entered credit card information and his site billed me went flawlessly, but actually getting the disc to download has so far been impossible. Is anyone else encountering this problem? It’s disheartening because I SO want to see this sort of thing succeed,but in order to get folks — even me — to pay for music you’re going to have to ensure the process you have in place for downloading will actually work.
Sometimes a press release comes across our desk that we just can’t help but print verbatim. Well, portions of it at least.
ATO Records, the label started by Dave Matthews, has apparantly signed Radiohead for North American release. Shiv from WOXY got an email from the label about using songs on the station, and there’s a lot of articles popping up in the news.
Fader is releasing the Trent Reznor / Saul Williams collaboration The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! free of charge in DRM-free 192 kbps MP3 format. If you want a choice of formats, or you just want to directly support the artist, you can shell out $5. The album will be available for download November 1, but you can pre-order now.
In some ways this is awfully similar to the Radiohead model, with a few improvements. First of all, the higher baseline kpbs encoding is nice, but I really like the fact that if you pay, you can get the download in whatever format you’d like on up to FLAC.
Secondly, I don’t think this is physically coming out, so it won’t be viewed as a leveraging ploy / future CD-sales tactic. In fact it’ll probably give Williams more recognition than he’s (ever?) had. This is not just due to the sales model, since obviously Reznor’s involvement is pretty noteworthy … especially given his own recent outspoken disdain for the Major Label model of distributing music.
I’m liking these changing times.
The New York Times ran a pretty good article on Rick Rubin taking over the helm at Sony/Columbia. It touches on all the ailments of the music industry, and gives some interesting insight on Rubin and Johnny Cash.
Here is a link to the article: The Music Man
I am stealing it for my blog, so I can access it later.
September 2, 2007
The Music Man
By LYNN HIRSCHBERG
Rick Rubin is listening. A song by a new band called the Gossip is playing, and he is concentrating. He appears to be in a trance. His eyes are tightly closed and he is swaying back and forth to the beat, trying at once to hear what is right and wrong about the music. Rubin, who resembles a medium-size bear with a long, gray beard, is curled into the corner of a tufted velvet couch in the library of a house he owns but where he no longer lives. This three-story 1923 Spanish villa steeped in music history — Johnny Cash recorded in the basement studio; Jakob Dylan is recording a solo album there now — is used by Rubin for meetings. And ever since May, when he officially became co-head of Columbia Records, Rubin has been having nearly constant meetings. Beginning in 1984, when he started Def Jam Recordings, until his more recent occupation as a career-transforming, chart-topping, Grammy Award-winning producer for dozens of artists, as diverse as the Dixie Chicks, Slayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Neil Diamond, Rubin, who is 44, has never gone to an office of any kind. One of his conditions for taking the job at Sony, which owns Columbia, was that he wouldn’t be required to have a desk or a phone in any of the corporate outposts. That wasn’t a problem: Columbia didn’t want Rubin to punch a clock. It wanted him to save the company. And just maybe the record business. (full story)
Finally, a court ruling about digital music that seems grounded in some semblance of reality! ASCAP attempts to double dip into royalty streams by claiming digital download count as public performances has been slapped down by a federal court. This confused me, since ASCAP sells itself as being super artist-friendly, and this tactic was sure to hurt artist’s audiences by making it more difficult to distribute their music. I tried tried to get some insight into this from the local Chicago ASCAP office when the story broke a few weeks ago, but they didn’t return my emails.
As an aside, I’d like to point out that all my interaction with representatives from ASCAP has always been positive, and in Chicago they do their damndest to get exposure for artists they sign with. So I view this whole legal action as a gross misstep grounded in the greed of ASCAPpers in corporate positions … which would probably explain why our local reps had nothing to say. Would you want to go o0n record disagreeing with the actions of the boys upstairs? Probably not.