On The Record: A Pun About Leaking Would Probably Fit Nicely Here
Poor Interpol. Not only have they been surpassed by Editors, a British band that, to put it kindly, is pretty much a second-rate version of Interpol, but they have to spend every waking minute with bassist/fashion-plate Carlos D, who went from looking like Crispin Glover's angular, sorta-goth cousin to a bolo-tie-wearing cross between Hans Gruber and Snidely Whiplash within the span of roughly one year.
And on top of that, just last week — despite their best efforts and those of their label, Capitol Records — their new album, Our Love to Admire, leaked all over the Internet. This would be a bummer for any band, but for Interpol, it was especially sad. After all, they had just sat down with me for an interview about Love, primarily to talk about how great it was that it hadn't leaked yet.
"Basically, people need to be patient," drummer Sam Fogarino told me. "And nobody wants to do that these days."
Poor, nameless music journalist. Not only did you recently (and perhaps unwittingly) leak tracks from the upcoming Animal Collective album Strawberry Jam, but you awoke last Monday to find yourself the black sheep of the industry, thanks to an e-mail from the band's publicist, Judy Miller, sent to pretty much every other music journalist on the planet, which read, in part:
"Hello friends -
"Sorry to write this one....but.....
"Last week three tracks from Animal Collective's new album leaked. Within minutes, we were able to track the leak to a writer's CD. That person got in more trouble than you care to hear about and was almost fired. The person was also forced to write an apology letter to an entire staff of people and the head of Domino Records along with other penance."
Needless to say, it's been a pretty strange month in the ongoing war between the music industry and piratude of all shapes and sizes, one that kicked off with the whole Jack-White-Calls-Chicago-Radio-Station-And-Bitches-Them-Out-For- Broadcasting-A-Leaked-Copy-Of-His-Album fiasco; included both of the incidents mentioned above; and just recently saw the launch of Thou Shall Not Leak, a blog started by a dude in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that threatens to "post the names ... of those people who've been given the care of having an early copy of a release and have set that responsibility aside and leaked the record they were entrusted with."
It's a battle that no one really seems to be winning, but that's not stopping either side from re-upping their armaments and charging headlong into the fray. Capitol sent me Interpol's Love as a streaming-only file, yet several people have told me that ripping a streaming file is "beyond easy." Last week, "Doomsday Clock," the opening track on the Smashing Pumpkins' upcoming Zeitgeist album, hit the Net, and in response — and as a way to squeeze every last drop of blood out of the stone — Billy Corgan and company announced that there would be four different versions of the album available to fans. And after years of getting burned by peer-to-peer sites, all four major labels are getting behind QTrax, a licensed P2P-er that will offer between 20 million and 30 million songs for download, an announcement most on the other side of the fence greeted with a scoff, since the songs are locked by copy protection and after a few listens, they will direct users to buy the tracks.
So who's wrong and who's right? Well, no one (and probably everyone). On one hand, record labels have been too slow to react to technologies, and as such missed getting in on the ground floor of a brave new business model. They've gotten caught hiding software on CDs that basically spies on consumers. They are out-of-touch and charge too much for CDs. And the Recording Industry Association of America is equally as bad, deciding long ago that carpet-bombing campuses with lawsuits was the best way to discourage downloading.
On the other, everyone else is guilty of being impatient a--holes. People are willing to ignore artists' rights and basically assume that they own the music — and as such, they'll break the law to get their hands on it. And music journalists who leak records — those who the guy behind Thou Shall Not Leak threatens to expose (in his own fairly lengthy way) — are even worse. They are men and women who choose to just chuck professionalism out the window and ruin it for the rest of us.
And maybe people like Sam Fogarino and Jack White are guilty of being a bit old-fashioned, looking wistfully backward and ignoring the fact that — at worst — a leak means they've lost a few thousand in sales (and at best, it's free publicity for their albums). But that doesn't mean they don't have the right to get pissed about it.
After all, we're living in an era where pretty much everybody is to blame for pretty much everything. Whether or not anyone steps up to accept that blame is another story altogether. And a pretty unlikely one at that.
B-Sides: Other Stories I'm Following This Week
Gwen Stefani changes up live gig, temporarily replaces Harajuku-girl accessories with former No Doubt bandmates. (See "Gwen Stefani And No Doubt Surprise Fans With Hometown Reunion.")
I honestly thought "Rupert Grint" was the name of a character in the "Harry Potter" books because I've never actually read one of them. Because I'm not 9 years old. (See " 'Harry Potter' Casting Call Could Help Ron Weasley Find Perfect Shade Of Lavender.")
Andre 3000's pseudo-wedding was a lot like my own, minus the floor-length mink coats, stripper fights and Lukas Haas. (See "T-Pain, Big Boi Watch Andre 3000 Get Hitched In A Kilt — In UGK's 'Anthem' Clip.")
Cleaning Out My Inbox (Or "Interactivity, While A Touchstone Of So-Called 'New Media,' Is Actually Overrated And Kind Of A Waste Of Time")
So it turns out that last week's Bonnaroo-bashing edition of BTTS (see "Henna, Hippies, Hateration: Braving Bonnaroo, In Bigger Than The Sound") actually inspired plenty of hippies to put down their water-filtration devices and pick up their pens (er, keyboards), which was excellent because A) I got lots of e-mails from Boulder, Colorado, and B) It's been awhile since I've been insulted by someone named "MoonShadow."
I've collected some of the less bong-addled ones here for your enjoyment and to prove that not all stereotypes about hippies are correct. (Some, for example, do not grill sandwiches on the engine bloc of their VW van.)
"Wow, man. As a writer for MTV, VH1 or whatever it is and whoever owns whoever, I thought I could expect more of a passionate write-up about such an awesome music festival. Rather, you dissed it. A lot. ... Bonnaroo is the REAL music lovers festival. Along with Coachella. For the people who attend these things, they LOVE what they do and that's why they come back each year. Kinda bums me out that you would want to hate on such an epic festival that brings so many people together to have a good time, enjoy good music, and promote nothing but union and love. Kind of like Woodstock."
-Ashley Amber Schmidt, Boulder, CO
"It's amazing to me you would stay four days for a major network like MTV and you SKIP the HEADLINER?? Widespread Panic, though often tossed aside by mainstream media as a 'Grateful Dead wannabe jam band,' has an amazing and unique style and critics seem to just blow them off completely and ignore their true musical talent and ability. I urge you to attend a show. You missed a good one at Bonnaroo, and for people like me who have children now and couldn't attend, we get pissed when we see others getting paid to go and they skip the best band of the weekend."
-Goulaglenn, somewhere in the wilds of the Internet
"No questions or concerns, just wanted to say that you pretty much encapsulated the experience ... and the Police should have played at midnight since they were skipping out early anyway and thought the entire crowd was from Tennessee! The Lips were much finer. So did you miss the National Geographic photo ops, or just suppressing the photos? My husband and I saw what appeared to be a naked (but painted) lady Friday, and a whole group of guys following her at a distance. Btw, we're from Louisville, too, but forgot our family ice pick."
-Gayle Benton, Louisville, KY
"Just read your article on Bonnaroo. Thanks for the insider tips about the Kings of Leon's jeans. That was a riddle wrapped in an enigma for all the people I know who listen to those guys. I think you missed out on some 'non-jam-band' amazing performances that are worthy of MTV buzz. Specifically, the Galactic late-night show that played opposite the Flaming Lips. I love the Lips and was at the 2003 show he spoke about before 'Fight Test,' but I pulled myself away from them to see Galactic. It was an excellent choice. Those guys debuted their upcoming new hip-hop album with a host of live MCs. That show was an amazing fusion of rock and hip-hop, and everyone in there was dancing their asses off."
-Jonathan Peck, Boston
Questions? Concerns? Carlos D? Hit me up at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.