Low-Tech Approach To Music Piracy

The music industry complains about lost album sales &emdash; pre-release file sharing means that entire albums can be downloaded from peer-to-peer networks weeks before the album appears in stores. Bruce Springsteenis six most recent albums have managed to escape this fate, and itis not thanks to copy protection technology or the RIAA. Instead, itis a simple matter of keeping the album under wraps. According to the New York Times:

Recording labels usually ship dozens or hundreds of albums to radio stations, journalists and others involved in the industry months before they go on sale. Mr. Springsteenis organization, on the other hand, sent out fewer than 10 copies as of early July, and only a handful more will join them 14 days ahead of the store date ? if at all, according to a spokeswoman, Marilyn Laverty of Shore Fire Media. Insiders who do obtain advance copies do not distribute them, said Gary Graff, a music journalist at Reuters who has interviewed Mr. Springsteen on several occasions. He said no one wanted to anger the Springsteen camp. "Thatis almost the best weapon they have," he added.


As a result, Mr. Springsteenis prerelease work has been conspicuously absent online. In 1998, he issued the four-CD set "Tracks"; last year, he released the double album "Live In New York City." None of those complete discs were available online before they were available in stores. Indeed, no more than a handful, if that, of the 84 songs on those sets were distributed ahead of time.

The article goes on to discuss some of the unexpected benefits of pre-release file sharing, points out that its effect on sales is still very unclear, and notes that for some artists, a leak could create massive hype for the final release. You can read the article in full at The New York Times. A free subscription is required.