Offspring Nix Plan To Offer Free Download Of New LP

Sonicnet Music News

The Offspring have nixed plans to offer their new album, “Conspiracy Of One,” for free download before its release in stores.

The decision, made Thursday night, ended a two-day legal standoff between the punk band and its label group, Sony Music, who disapproved of the download plan. Each side had planned to sue the other.

“We were two seconds away from having a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ ending to this matter,” Offspring manager Jim Guerinot wrote in an e-mail to sonicnet.com on Friday. “We both had lawsuits ready to drop in New York Friday morning.”

The Offspring still planned to offer a free MP3 of the album’s first single, “Original Prankster,” starting Friday. As part of the promotion, fans can register to win $1 million — a contest initially linked with the planned full-album offer (see “Offspring Offering New Album, $1 Million Online”). The single download
will be available through the band’s official site, offspring.com, as well as other Web outlets, including MTV.com, radio station sites, and retail sites.

Sony Music, which owns The Offspring’s label, Columbia, had planned to seek an injunction against the band and a temporary restraining order. Meanwhile, The Offspring had prepared a breach of contract countersuit. Both parties signed a standstill agreement Wednesday declaring a 48-hour waiting period and met to discuss the matter in Sony’s New York offices, Guerinot said.

The Offspring finally agreed not to release the album online because the lawsuits would have been paralyzing, Guerinot said. Sony’s suit would have prevented the band from proceeding with its plans to offer the album online and would’ve nixed the $1 million contest for fans. The Offspring’s suit would have prevented the band from releasing “Conspiracy Of One” this year and would’ve delayed a planned tour.

“The band and I felt that the bulk
of what we were trying to accomplish happens off the single being downloaded, and to sacrifice our fan promotion, album release, and tour was just too much,” Guerinot said.

“It sucks,” he said, because once people get their hands on the music, fans will have to turn to Napster and other distribution methods to take a listen, but they won’t be able to find the songs at www.offspring.com. “We will be the only site on the Web that will not have The Offspring’s new music.”

The Offspring’s plans to release the album online nearly a month before its November 14 commercial release marked a brave move by a major artist in regard to digital downloading.

A statement from the band issued September 15 suggested The Offspring don’t believe free downloads would hurt the sales of “Conspiracy Of One.” That philosophy contradicts what major labels, including Sony, are claiming in their pending lawsuit against Napster.


“It’s just sad that they were trying to do something cool for their fans and smart for them, and they got shot down by the bastards that be,” 22-year-old Offspring fan Jason Marks, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrote in an e-mail. “I don’t think any fans will be mad. I’m not — just disappointed. I’m sure they did what they could, but once it became clear they wouldn’t be able to do sh** if they tried to go ahead [with it], they had no other choice but to say ‘Screw it.’ “

“They’re still the coolest band in the world,” Marks said.

Spokespeople for Sony did not return calls Friday.