What good is a mu­sic re­viewer with no new al­bums?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

Ev­ery week, record la­bels send mu­sic jour­nal­ists pro­mo­tional copies of forth­com­ing al­bums for re­view. It’s a quid pro quo: jour­nal­ists get to hear the al­bums in ad­vance and the record la­bels know the re­views will ap­pear in pub­li­ca­tions on the week of re­lease.

But mu­sic piracy had made a dent in this ar­range­ment as some pre-re­lease al­bums end up on file-shar­ing sites. Be­cause the promo al­bums are wa­ter­marked, the la­bels can trace the leaks back to the source and, lo and be­hold, it turns out that some jour­nal­ists were tak­ing lib­er­ties with the al­bums.

This week, Ninja Tune re­acted to the fact that two of their forth­com­ing al­bums were leaked by nam­ing the jour­nal­ist they be­lieved was in­volved. The la­bel claimed in a blog post that Ben­jamin Jager at Back­spin mag­a­zine in Ger­many had leaked al­bums by Toddla T and Thun­der­cat.

Jager sub­se­quently is­sued a state­ment dis­tanc­ing the mag­a­zine from the la­bel’s claims, point­ing out that the first leaks had ap­peared be­fore the mag­a­zine had re­ceived the CDs in ques­tion.

This is not the only case of a mu­sic hack sup­pos­edly leak­ing pre-re­lease al­bums. Ear­lier this year, it was al­leged that an Ir­ish jour­nal­ist who had re­ceived a pre-re­lease copy of the lat­est Gang Gang Dance had leaked it to a file-shar­ing site.

All of this means la­bels are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pro­tec­tive of new al­bums and are spend­ing more money to pro­tect their as­sets. Some al­bums, such as re­cent re­leases from Bey­oncé and Odd Fu­ture whiz­zkid Tyler, the Cre­ator, were not sent out for re­view at all, the equiv­a­lent of films open­ing in the cin­e­mas with­out a press screen­ing.

Iron­i­cally, jour­nal­ists who wanted to hear Bey­once’s new al­bum for re­view could have done so on a plethora of file-shar­ing sites, as the al­bum had al­ready been leaked. It seems that it’s not just un­scrupu­lous hacks who are il­le­gally up­load­ing new re­leases.


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