U2 Album Leaks… Despite Ridiculous Attempts To Block It

from the lotta-good-that-did dept

At some point, folks in the music industry are going to (finally) recognize a rather simple fact: it just takes one digital copy of a song/movie/whatever to get out there, and it’s everywhere. You can’t stop it. No matter how annoying it is. No matter what laws it violates. It will happen. Taking precautions against it may seem smart, but it will always just be a waste, because as soon as a single copy gets out, it’s game over. However, it appears that plenty in the industry still haven’t figured this out — and it’s no surprise that U2 is among them, given what Paul McGuinness, the band’s manager, has said in the past.

It appears that the band went to great lengths to avoid having its latest album leaked. The band refused to send out any review copies to journalists, instead organizing special “listening parties” where all attendees had to surrender any electronic device (including phones) before entering. So what happened? Well, the album has leaked anyway and thousands of people are downloading it.

So, for all that trouble, the band spent a bunch of extra money on these “listening parties,” annoyed and inconvenienced a bunch of journalists/reviewers who were unable to listen to the music as they normally do, greatly limited the ability of reviewers to hear the album (meaning fewer reviewers than normal probably heard it)… and the album still leaked. So they got all of the (supposed) “negatives” and none of the (supposed) “benefits.” Great strategy there, Paul.

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Comments on “U2 Album Leaks… Despite Ridiculous Attempts To Block It”

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Saint Subversive says:

Paul McGuinness

Very true indeed. McGuinness made a big mistake by throwing down the gauntlet to pirates with his idiotic and clueless statements. Even the pirates who arent U2 fans are celebrating watching McG’s grand plan fail (and even more ironically, that the leak is due to a mistake on the part of the Australian branch of their own record company).

This is the same band that charges $200+ for a decent ticket to their concerts (that is, if you dont want to go there to stand a mile back and watch them on a video screen, an effect I can achieve just as powerfully on my home TV screen). The last two albums also leaked weeks ahead of time (as do most albums these days), and they still sold about 10 million copies each, not counting legal internet downloads … both CDs are now very common in pawn shop discount bins, since many of those purchases were by people who blindly bought the U2 name and were angry to find themselves treated to something that sounded like weak Elton John. At least the new album is good (and it is very good indeed).

It’s amazing that the people who created the ahead of its time concept of “Zoo TV” are the ones that are least willing to enter the 21st century, or to understand the new rules that they WILL have to live by, whether they want to or not.

To paraphrase a Bono lyric from the new U2 album, “shush now, Mr McGuinness”.

Jack says:

Re: Paul McGuinness

U2 doesn’t charge $200 for tickets I don’t know what concert you went to but you got jacked….. my ticket was $50 dollars for standing floor level…others were $75 the most expensive ticket was $125 for “Gold Circle” seats….U2 aren’t Madonna or worse,the Rolling Sones who take corporate tour sponsorship money and still gouge their fans with ridiculous ticket prices.
As for the leak it probably was planned just to get publicity…their last album leaked early (it was a real leak)and it sold 840,000 copies in the U.S. in it’s first week…the leak came from Universal Music Australia’s music subsites…really now?….please

Anonymous Coward says:

By the logic in this article it seems that it is a waste of time to try and protect anything that is “digital” because it might get out.

BTW, why is it that nothing negative has been said about the weasel who let the secret out? Personally, I hope they find him/her and prosecute actions as appropriate in civil and criminal courts.

Jeff Rife says:

Re: Re: Re:

And, it also shows that end-users aren’t the “pirates”.

The MPAA would like you to believe that people with camcorders in theaters are the reason that “Spiderman 12” is available for download, while the RIAA thinks it’s people who buy CDs and then upload them.

Neither is anywhere close to the truth.

Almost every piece of content is available on torrent sites before it is released to the public because some insider leaked it. Yet, I’ve never heard of a single lawsuit by the **AA against one of these insiders…they always target the end users.

deadzone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think U2 should take your advice and just keep any new music they make to themselves. ONLY do it live. Never record it. That will show those fans who want to listen to U2.

Seriously, I wish they would take your stupid advice – and never, ever, make another record. It’s the best thing really. Oherwise, someone might get an “illegal copy” of it which we all know is akin to “physically stealing”.

Man are you dense you shill.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“BTW, why is it that nothing negative has been said about the weasel who let the secret out? Personally, I hope they find him/her and prosecute actions as appropriate in civil and criminal courts.”

Yes, damn him for letting fans of the band get hold of an album that’s being artificially withheld from them! How dare he let people hear the album now instead of waiting through weeks of promotional drivel before they’re allowed to buy it! What an evil person!

There’s an easy way around this as always. Release dates and the promotional build-up are there because of the way physical media is produced. There is absolutely nothing to stop U2 from selling the digital version of the album *right now*, but they’ve decided to wait until the CD release is ready. But, right now, fans are not allowed to pay for the album. Allow them to do so, and the number of pirated copied will drop.

It’s also worth noting that there are probably very few sales being lost through this leak, if any. Many of the people who are downloading it are fans who have pre-ordered the album, and have downloaded the torrent while waiting for it…

Crowbar Jim says:

Re: Re:

“By the logic in this article it seems that it is a waste of time to try and protect anything that is “digital” because it might get out.”

Hey, you actually get it! Provide value, real incentive for people to pay and they will. It’s a new world, and trying to stop digital copies from proliferating is like trying to block out the sun. Deal with it, learn from, use it to your advantage or fail miserably.

Andrew Mackie (user link) says:

Music Industry = Supply Chain Business

The music industry at large won’t get it because they’re not a business concerned with music but a supply chain business, creating and shipping pieces of plastic around the world.

It’s a shame that U2 doesn’t get it, though, because they are in the music business.

Kevin Kelly has thoughts on what’s better than free that will help both U2 and Anonymous Coward.

Max Kayden (user link) says:

When a disc is released, they will have been stamping discs for months. When the stamped disc runs through the silkscreening process, sometimes discs don’t line up perfectly, and the labeling is off. The physical product is unsaleable but the digital content is fine. The factory then dumps the discs in a garbage bin. Workers can grab these extra copies, or others can go dumpster diving, or the discs end up in landfills where they can be fetched (just follow the garbage truck til it stops). But even if you got rid of this somehow, these disc stampers are often working with bootleg cartels in various areas (so even the higher ups will pass a copy to the cartel). The cartel is willing to pay much more for an early copy than a studio is willing to pay for the stamper to destroy all the copies. And when the cartels pay off the local politicians, it doesn’t matter. Content goes back and forth between the sceners and the cartels, and then content filters down the pyramid from the sceners eventually to the public torrent networks, file hosts (like rapidshare), and the near defunct filesharing networks.

SJ (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Except no one needed to go to even that little effort, because the files weren’t leaked in the traditional sense – they were put on sale early “by accident” by an Australian on-line seller. Two hours and hundreds of downloads later, the horse had bolted and all that was left to do was for UMG Australia to throw a massive tantrum, for U2 to look a little lame and irrelevant and for the fans to distribute the album all over the tubes.

Chris Huff (user link) says:

What I Don't Understand

WHY is U2 so concerned about this again? Their God-given right to make millions and millions of dollars? All they have to do is tour once for this CD and they have enough money for the REST of their LIVES. Radiohead proved that you can make money off free downloads AND still sell the CD AND still sell a deluxe edition of the CD AND tour AND still make millions upon millions of dollars.

So tell me again. WHY again are U2 so concerned about this? Is it that they live horribly extravagant lifestyles as Dukes of Planet Earth? Adam Clayton won’t have a 5th Rolls Royce for next winter? Bono is certainly not living in a shack while he helps feed the world. If he was, then maybe I would say “OK, he is worried about the starving children not having enough funds because he gives all of his album royalty profits to charity”. Right.

Greed. Ignorance. Idiocy. Thank God a digital revolution is coming along which is dethroning all of the arrogant SOB rockers who felt that they could treat their audiences however they wanted because they were kings of the world.

I love this blog! Why does it seem like the only blog that makes sense anymore?

Anonymous Coward says:

I hate to say it, but fuck U2. They were the shit back in the day. I fucking loved them. But for the last I don’t know how many years, they’ve just turned into whiny pompous uppity arrogant bitches. Oh sorry, I mean to say whiny pompous uppity arrogant irrelevant bitches. Their music has sucked for years now, so why do we give a shit? Weak,Elton John is about right LOL (Elton John is cool though).

Anonymous Coward says:


Seriously, I have no idea why these clowns are even still around, they were once ‘ok’ back around the ZooTV period but have gone steadily downhill from there…
People probably downloaded the music just to piss them off, it’s not like their music has any real value.. hell I’ll download it just to annoy them.. Oh that’s right, a download is a ‘lost sale’ .. funny.. I’ve never, and will never buy any of their crap!

Lucretious (profile) says:

it just takes one digital copy of a song/movie/whatever to get out there, and it’s everywhere. You can’t stop it. No matter how annoying it is. No matter what laws it violates. It will happen.

Its amazing to me how many learned people just can’t grasp this fact. They’ll go on and on about ethics and morals but ignore the fact that someone has already made a decision and there’s not a bloody thing they (industry types) can do about it.

Patrick Brady says:

Piracy should be illegal - shit, it already is...

Know what’s really funny? It’s U2’s music. Basic economics dictate they will only be able to sell that music at a price other people are willing to pay for. If you are not willing to pay for it, then don’t buy it. And also…don’t pirate it. Unless you really do want it – in which case you’re only creating silly excuses to justify stealing but not paying for it.

What I find hillarious about some of these comments are the idiots who somehow think pirating is nothing U2 should be concerned about. Why shouldn’t they? You are stealing their property! They have a right to the money you should have paid – even if they do have so much money they can build entire mansions out of the paper :). You don’t have any right whatsoever to question that. Try having a tiny % of your wages stolen one day and I guarantee you’ll get upset simply on the principle that some ignorant jerkoff thought they had the moral right to do it because a few tens of dollars aren’t going to be missed.

I think the RIAA is right. They should hunt down people stealing music online (but fine them something appropriate – not the inflated rewards they seem to like), cut off their internet access, and give them all a criminal record. Piracy is a plague on the internet.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Piracy should be illegal - shit, it already is...

Holy hell.

There’s so much wrong with what you’ve written I hardly know where to start.

First, it’s not stealing. Illegal, yes. Stealing no. Keep reading this sentence until it sinks in.

No, I mean it, go back and read it a few more times.

Basic economics says that their music will sell at a price people are willing to pay. Following that line of logic, what category would you file so-called pirates under: the market saying that digital music should be released sooner than the CD release, or the part of the market who feel that current music prices are too high? People pay good money for data on what the market wants, and here it is staring them in the face. And being ignored. Note: what the market wants may not be what they want.

Go back and read the first point again, because the number of times you refer to stealing property leads me to believe that you’ve probably forgotten it.

Hunting people down for downloading or uploading? Do you distinguish between the two? There’s a difference. Turning off someone’s Internet before or aFter the trial? Oh. No trial, huh? Who needs due process, right? I mean, a group of lawyers representing big record labels will probably make sure they don’t cut off innocent people, right? What if my roomate is a dirty pirate and I just spend all day writing $20 checks to Sony? Should I lose my Internet becuase my dirty evil pirate roommate did something illegal?

Okay, that’s it, I’m done ranting. Go back and read the first point again. There’s a good lad.

PS- Its not stealing.

Altscribe says:

U2's claims are huge exaggerations

After reading about the accidental release of U2’s new album with the accompanying screams and gnashing of teeth claiming massive theft by “P2P online thieves” and a renewed call from multi-millionaire U2 manager McGuinness, I decided to check for myself.
A through check of all the P2P networks revealed that the actual number of downloads of the new U2 album, arguably a red hot commodity, was less than 5000 instances worldwide!
While this IS infringement (assuming the downloaded album is the genuine article…), it’s hardly the claimed “massive number” claimed by McGuinness and Universal. Maybe they don’t know how to check this, or maybe they are deliberately exaggerating to push their case to ban all internet activity except buying their music online.
A study last month found that over 80% of all P2P traffic is provably legitimate and likely 3/4 of the remaining 20% is lawful Fair Use, leaving only 5% or so that may be “illegal”.
This is not a big number and far lower than pilferage from brick and mortar stores….

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