The internet has allowed unorthodox artists and bands who may not have normally risen to stardom gain worldwide attention and dedicated fan bases. However, the advent of torrenting and other forms of illegal downloading have sparked an ongoing debate on whether torrenting sites like the Pirate Bay damage an artists' success or spread their music to new audiences. While that debate continues to remain relevant, for this blog I will discuss a sub-issue of sorts: the downloading of leaked songs or albums.
In this day and age the early leaking of a band's new album has become the norm. Phoenix's last album Bankrupt! leaked two months before release much to the band's understandable chagrin. Bankrupt! still sold well and the Phoenix went on to headline Coachella and tour the world, suggesting the leak did not significantly impact their success. Artists like Bassnectar have pleaded fans to abstain from listening to any of his leaked work, imploring diehard and casual fans alike to at least wait for the album's official release before checking it out.
This new debate raises several interesting questions and discussions. Does downloading and listening to a musician's leaked album compromise their work? Does waiting for the release date make you a true fan? Do any of these questions matter if you neglect to purchase their music?
In my opinion, when or where you consume entertainment does not matter. If the new Beyoncé album leaks a month in advance, go ahead and check it out. If you feel waiting on the album's official release day is more appropriate, so be it. I am fully cognizant to both views but personally subscribe to the idea of taking what you can get as soon as it becomes available.
Record labels notoriously hold finished work in an attempt to maximize sales. That leaked Beyoncé album may have been finished for months by the time it leaks, why not take advantage? True fans of the artist will most likely purchase tickets for their tour or buy their merchandise, both of which directly pay the artist for their efforts.
If you have waited for years for new material from your favorite artist, why withhold yourself of listening to their work early? Daft Punk had not released a proper album since 2005 before the release of their fourth LP Random Access Memories. As a huge Daft Punk fan, I craved for any reveal of their new music (even if it meant listening to 30 second song snippets over and over). The album leaked a week early and of course I listened to it front to back, how could I help myself?
The issues of torrenting and leaking remain hot topics of which differing viewpoints possess logical arguments. While having one's hard work release unofficially without his or her consent deals a heavy blow, finding a silver lining can yield fruitful results. Iron Maiden analyzed which cities most frequently torrented their albums and plotted a tour based upon their research.
This new age of music may have the most potential yet.