Suggestions for a Modern Day Free Fiona Campaign

[caption id="attachment_20276" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Fiona Apple performs in Beverly Hills, February 2011. Photo: Michael Bezjian/WireImage"][/caption]

If patience really is a virtue, then Fiona Apple fans must be some of the most virtuous people on the planet. Her last album, Extraordinary Machine, was started in 2002, promised for 2003, delayed in 2004, and re-recorded with new producers and finally released in 2005. And aside from a song or two recorded for compilations and some rare live appearances, that's pretty much the last we’ve heard from her.

So when she made one of those rare appearances on Wednesday night, playing an intimate, acoustic set with longtime collaborator (and original Extraordinary Machine producer) Jon Brion during one of his standing dates at Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, of course those in attendance were hoping to hear some new material. (Especially since both Apple and her drummer Charley Drayton gave interviews last fall intimating that the record would be out in Spring 2011, a date that came and went without a release.)

But when an audience member shouted out a request for some new tunes, according to Grantland’s review of the event, Apple answered, “I can't remember [how to play] any of my new songs because they've been done for a fucking year.” Brion then said, "Not her fault.” This exchange prompted much speculation that the girl who once accepted her VMA by declaring “the world is bullshit” is yet again facing bullshit delays at the hands of her record label.

Still, don’t take this lying down, Fiona fans! Now is not the time for your oft-practiced patience. In the six years since Apple’s last record -- and its fan-led campaign for release, which included inundating Sony Music with mailed-in cartons of apples -- a whole new world of technology has sprung up with which you can campaign for this latest release. Here's the logical steps for success:

1. Start with the Facebook Campaign

It’s an obvious choice, but if Facebook can get Betty White on Saturday Night Live and the Muppets in serious contention for Oscar hosting duties, surely it can convince a label hungry for a hit that there’s an audience for an album they’ve been keeping on the shelf.

2. Follow Up With a Simple, Yet Effective Hashtag Meme

Michelle Branch has already used Twitter to let Fiona fans know that she’s heard some of her new songs and that they sound “amazing.” Why not start a hashtag #freefiona or start tweeting at her label every minute, on the minute (we’ll give you a hint: @SonyMusicGlobal) demanding to hear some of this “new” music that’s now so old the songwriter can’t even remember how it goes?

3. Bribe the Suits With Shiny Things

If honest-to-goodness pomme de terre apples helped convince Sony to release Apple’s last album, imagine what some glossy Apple products could accomplish? After all, her last album was called Extraordinary Machine and Steve Jobs’ company sure makes those. Everyone wants an iPad this holiday season, even record execs. (We would suggest Apple Records, the Beatles’ label, as another desirable bribe, but since Sony announced plans earlier this month to buy EMI’s publishing arm, which includes the lucrative Beatles catalog, they beat us to it.)

4. Annoy the Suits With Physical Things

If you think apples (or Apples) are played out, why not look to Fiona album titles for inspiration for another mail-in campaign? Though we can’t condone flooding Sony’s offices (that’s what Tidal would suggest, right?), we do think flooding their offices with chess pawns (like those mentioned in 90-plus-word title to her 1999 album) might be just the push they need to finally set a release date for Apple’s latest opus.

5. Bite the Apple

Maybe this record is experiencing a whole other kind of hold up? After all, a Sony “source” told Billboard back in July, “If she's got a new album, no one here has heard it.” Does that mean it’s time to start sending apples (or better yet, empty CD jewel cases/USB Drives) to Fiona herself?