Wilco Shows The Entertainment Industry How To Respond To A Leak

from the see?-not-so-hard... dept

Last month, when the work print of the movie Wolverine leaked online, the studio 20th Century Fox went ballistic, sending out all sorts of threats and getting the FBI involved. We had suggested that if they had taken a different approach, they could have turned the leak into something beneficial. Our suggestion was to make the following statement:
Hey Wolverine fans! We know that you're all looking forward to the release of the movie next month. We're excited too! By now you may have heard that an early totally unfinished version has been leaked online. It's missing a whole bunch of stuff -- including some amazing special effects -- and honestly, this version isn't a finished product at all. We think you'll get a much better overall experience by waiting for the full finished product, but we certainly understand that some of you just can't wait (trust us, we feel the same way!). If that's the case, please, feel free to check it out, but please remember that this isn't even close to the final version. If anything, think of this as a "behind-the-scenes" peek of just what a movie looks like before all the real "movie magic" gets put in there. If you do check it out, we hope you'll join us May 1st to check out the finalized version as well on the big screen the way we intended for you to see this awesome movie. It's just a month away!
And, of course, we had people from the movie industry tell us we were crazy (some funny emails from the movie studios, actually), and that such a plan would never work, and how could they not call in the FBI and threaten legal action. Apparently, my suggestion was the dumbest thing ever.

And... yet... when others actually do something like that, it appears to be working. Reader mikez points us to the news that the band Wilco discovered that its upcoming album has been leaked online, so they put up their own streaming version of the album for all to listen to and released the following statement:
"Well we made it nearly a month with copies of Wilco the album floating around out there before it leaked. Pretty impressive restraint in this day and age. But the inevitable happened last night. Since we know you're curious and probably have better things to do than scour the internet for a download though we do understand the attraction of the illicit we ve posted a stream of the full album...Feel free to refer to it as wilco the stream if you must."
See? Turns out it's not so difficult. And, while 20th Century Fox was getting slammed left and right for its actions, Twitter this morning is abuzz with people talking about how awesome the new Wilco album is and how excited they are that it's coming out.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    I've never heard of this band before. When I get home I think I'll check it out. Couldn't hurt really, since it's free. But if they really are as good as some claim, I may decide to purchase the music if it's offered up in DRM free digital format.

     

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  2.  
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    Geoffrey Kidd (profile), May 14th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    Not Too Shabby

    Ran over and listened to the album. Some good stuff there. If it's available without DRM infestation, I think my wife might like it. So... I'll keep an ear out.

    I'm reminded of Baen Books' response when the author accidentally released an almost-completed version of his latest novel. They released it as the "Oopsie" Advance Reader's Copy(ARC), available for a small fee. If you later bought the "Official" ARC, you could also get the oopsie as part of the package. If you bought the eBook, you got all three.

    Wanna guess who did buy all three? And Baen is and has always been DRM-free.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    been a fan of jeff tweedy since his uncle tupelo days... good to know that he is still a classy act

     

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  4.  
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    Matt, May 14th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    no surprise

    you can be the RIAA threatened life and limb to every press agency not to cover wilco for using a logical response.

    Journalistic capture.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    I discovered Wilco when I downloaded their entire discography via bittorrent right after A Ghost is Born. I had never heard of them, but there were enough seeders for the huge file to make me think "maybe they're worth hearing." I've been an enormous fan ever since.

    Several years later I own every album they've released on vinyl, gigs and gigs of bootlegs from the tapers that they allow in the audience and have seen them live half a dozen times. They really understand how to treat fans.

     

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  6.  
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    zcat, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Not the first time though?

    Did a google news search to see how many outlets had picked up the PR. Not many; but in the process of looking I ran into an article "Eight Successful People Grateful That They Got Canned" on WSJ;

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124147696228084981.html

    4. Wilco

    In 2000 and 2001, the Chicago rock band Wilco recorded an artsy album that departed from the band's previous folk-inflected work. The record, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, didn't sound quite like what the band's label, Reprise Records, was hoping for. Although the album isn't aggressively grating, it wasn't full of the radio-friendly rock that the cash-strapped imprint needed to churn out a few hit singles. Reprise refused to release the album and dropped Wilco from its roster. As part of their severance from the label, the band got to take the master tapes of the record with them.

    Without a label to release the album, Wilco decided to simply stream it on their website for free. As critical buzz for the record built, Nonesuch Records (like Reprise, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers) bought Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and gave it a commercial release in 2002. The record was a critical smash; it topped many critics' best-albums list for the year. It was also a commercial success, selling close to 600,000 copies.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Cowherd, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:02pm

    You can almost hear the panties bunching up

    But how will the artists get paid if everything is free????

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:03pm

    streaming album done before

    Gorillaz and a couple others have made their music (and videos) available online via their own websites a few times before this.

    The only thing new, is that the stream was a response to a leak, as opposed to the band just being cool.

     

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  9.  
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    BJR, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:17pm

    Re: streaming album done before

    This is the 4th album in a row that Wilco has streamed online. They've been doing it since 2001.

     

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  10.  
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    RMR, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    Great response by Wilco

    If only politicians, CEOs and other people in positions of power and authority could deal with setbacks with such honest, unbridled focus as Wilco has.

    BTW, the album is @$#*& GREAT!

     

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  11.  
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    cvpunk, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: streaming album done before

    A lot of Indie and Punk bands do this all the time.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Re: You can almost hear the panties bunching up

    >But how will the artists get paid if everything is free????

    The point is that everything isn't free. Concerts, CDs, Vinyl and other downloads are paid for those who feel that they want to pay. Lots of people pay lots more don't but it is enough to make a decent profit.

     

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  13.  
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    jjray, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

    contrarian

    As much as I hate to agree with the position of any organization with the word "Fox" in their name, I too would have been mightily pissed had an unfinished version of the movie leaked. Why? Because people start making judgments (and posting those judgments) based upon an unfinished product. In this case, legitimate reviewers started blasting the movie based on the unfinished version. That's very damaging to the makers of Wolverine.

    I am in favor of cutting way back on the reach of copyright laws but the Woverine episode just isn't a very good example to make the case.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), May 14th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    Re: contrarian

    In this case, legitimate reviewers started blasting the movie based on the unfinished version. That's very damaging to the makers of Wolverine.

    Almost all of the reviews I saw were positive. And if 20th Century Fox had acted reasonably, then more people would recognize that the movie was missing so many special effects, and treated it accordingly.

     

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  15.  
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    kj, May 14th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Back when they first did this in 2001 it was especially noteworthy. Considering how the free music thing was relatively new, and the album had been rejected by their label. Once that was released it was the highest charting album of their careers. Then they did the same thing of providing streams of their next two albums (before this latest one) and each charted higher than the one before.

     

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  16.  
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    uhmno, May 14th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    Re: contrarian

    OTOH the movie was successful, and the critics were valid : the movie is mediocre...

     

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  17.  
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    Cecil Green, May 14th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    Wilco the Stream

    and Jeff Twitter.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Poster, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    Bravo, Wilco. Good show.

     

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  19.  
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    luckybleu, May 15th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    this leak hurt wilco

    Anybody who thinks this leak helped wilco is an a-hole,they have lost much needed revenue from this.By streaming their alblum now on their own site they are hoping to attract fans to participate in merchandizing and selling concert tickets, its the only option they have left to get paid for their work.People keep downloading on illegal sites and telling yourself the artists are better off for it,so you don't have any guilt,the truth is artists are better off when they are compensated for their works

     

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  20.  
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    Person Person, May 15th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Re: You can almost hear the panties bunching up

    most of the money that artists make is from touring and merchandise sales. that's not to belittle the fact that they should be making money from cd sales.

     

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  21.  
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    Theologian, May 22nd, 2009 @ 6:36am

    Re: this leak hurt wilco

    Understand your sentiment but it's just not true. This band has streamed every album, allow taping at thier concerts and are doing better than ever. Their last album, after streaming, opened up #1 on the Billboard charts. The latest DVD was number one opening week. Their are many bands who use pirating as a form of free publicity. The Grateful Dead have lived off this for over 40 years now. They allowed bootlegging when every other outlet shunned it because of the harm it did the artist. They made out quite all right. If a band has to try to survive today only selling CD's they might as well pack it in. Plus it really invigorates the fan base. This record will open number one on the charts and how much higher would that have been if it wasn't leaked?

     

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  22.  
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    Grahame, May 26th, 2009 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    If you do, you'll be doing yourself a HUGE favour.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous, May 28th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    Re: this leak hurt wilco

    Not everything is about making money. Wilco make records because they like playing money. They make much more money on the road then they do selling their records...

     

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  24.  
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    anonymous, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Re: You can almost hear the panties bunching up

    concerts.

     

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  25.  
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    Adrian, Jan 3rd, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    Money

    Yeah considering a cd is usually 20 bucks these days while a concert is $100 plus I think most bands make most money from these. Plus you only need to buy one CD but can go to lots of concerts.

     

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