El-P Embraces Early Leak Of New Album, True Fans Vow Support

from the that's-how-it's-done dept

I had a nice moment when I saw this and hesitated to write about it. As we see more and more and more artists (even Metallica!) embrace early leaked copies of their albums, it’s getting less and less newsworthy—which is fantastic. Still, I was pleased to see that rapper/producer El-P (one of my personal all-time favorite artists, who I was lucky enough to interview briefly years ago) had a great reaction to the leak of his much-anticipated new album, expressing his support and offering up some reasons to buy:

elephant in the room: i know a lot of yall already got the album. im ok with that. if you enjoy it and can afford to support me doing more music hit up www.definitivejux.net and pre order. there are dope deals on there. love, el

The pre-order packages include some cool, if somewhat basic, extras like signed posters and limited edition colored vinyls. Judging from the reaction in the comments of the Facebook post, plenty of fans have downloaded it but still want the official copy, and some are even vowing to wait for its release rather than listen to the leak. One states that even if he didn’t like the new album he would still buy it “as a thank you for your sonic contribution to my life”. Now that’s what true fandom looks like—and artists who cultivate it don’t have to worry about leaks and piracy.

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Comments on “El-P Embraces Early Leak Of New Album, True Fans Vow Support”

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MSC (profile) says:

Unacceptable response

Dear El-P,

What have you done?! You can’t encourage people who’ve illegally downloaded a leaked copy of your new album! Encouraging your fans may lead to engaging with them which in turn could lead to all sorts of naughty behavior, such as cultivating a strong fan base giving people a valid reason to buy.

This situation is totally unacceptable and we insist that you retract your statement and replace it with a vow to “hunt down the dirty scumbag(s) who leaked my work without my authorization and consent” and then to “prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.” Failure to comply with these directives will prevent you from attaining Official Douchebag status with our organization and may lead to a further increase in your fan base.

Your actions are a threat to middlemen and out-dated dinosaurs everywhere. Not only are you endangering the flow of ill-gotten gains into our coffers, you are supporting terrorism and pedophiles!

We trust your compliance with our demands will occur swiftly.


Anonymous Coward says:

Understanding Musicians

Isn’t it amazing how many musicians these days actually understand the economics of the music industry? It is almost like some of them, or their business advisers, have been reading Techdirt. There are even some that explicitly understand what “CwF+RtB” means. Funny how the old gatekeepers keep on not getting the message, as they get disintermediated.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

Anonymous Coward says:

The “embracing” he is doing is trying not to show that he is probably pissed off about the thieft of his album, and yes he is begging people in a way, by saying I got other cool stuff, if you buy my album, which you already own, cause you ilegally downloaded it

“”So let me get this straight: when an artist doesn’t want people do download their music, everyone should respect their wishes. But when an artist doesn’t care, they are wrong and you know what’s good for them much better than they do?””

No, you are saying whats good for them is to do business your way, whats wrong with NOT stealing the artists music??
oh thats right, marcus the minion of mike, all things should be free, and only mike and his kind know whats best for all people

and he deosn’t care if people download his music, he wants them to PAY for it, which you should if you wanted it

Anonymous Coward says:


There is nothing else to do – but in the end, the artist is hurt by the leak, like it or not. He is left begging for people to pay for it after the fact, which really sucks.

The lack of respect for artists is stunning – the acceptance of the circumstance is only PR, I suspect privately he has a few choice words for pirates.

el-p (profile) says:

after reading both the article and the comments that followed i feel like i need to respond to this. i’m going to ask my publicist to get in touch with techdirt so that my thoughts can be published officially and not just in the comments section. for now i’ll just say that this sight seems to be divided in to two distinct categories. those who believe that technology and the proliferation of that technology has done nothing to hurt the artist and those who condescendingly “defend” the artist, proposing that they are victims who need to “beg” for record sales. you are both wrong, in my opinion. i’ll be submitting a my views on this soon.

best, el-p

MSC (profile) says:


Instead of putting words in his mouth and ascribing feelings to him, why don’t we just ask him to clarify?

You say that he is “hurt” and has been stunningly disrespected, and that given the limited choices he came out publicly and said the only thing he could say in the situation. You feel he has to “beg” his fans for “alms” of financial support.

Masnick & Co. (myself included) believe the artist’s words at face value. We believe he “gets it” and that he’s using the leak to generate extra PR and marketing. We read his words and see an artist who chooses to engage with his fans and does not overreact to what might be considered a “bad thing.” We don’t accept that he’s “begging for money” when he reminds his fans that there’s other cool stuff beyond the leaked music.

I propose that Leigh Beadon contact El-P and seek clarification. Let’s ask him how he feels about the leak, whether he feels “dissed”, and if he thinks he has to “beg” for money. Does he feel his career has been “hurt” by the leak? Or is it good hype?

If he agrees with the AC then I will gladly eat crow.

Leigh, what say you?

MSC (profile) says:

Understanding Musicians

What dollars have been “lost”? Seriously, I’d like a real answer to that question. Are you asserting that anyone who downloads a copy of the leaked album now has a “reason not to buy”? If so, how do you quantify the number of people who would have purchased the album had it not leaked? Also, are you factoring in the extra PR/hype/marketing that comes along with having your album leaked early?

Let’s face it – in some circles, if your album doesn’t leak early then that means no one gives a crap about it. If people want it badly enough that they’ll download an early copy that has been leaked then at least some of them will be lining up to buy the album and/or other goodies. (Don’t forget that there’s a difference between selling ‘just music’ and selling ‘music and lots of other cool, related stuff.’ Losing a few pennies on the ‘just music’ is worth it if you make dollars on the ‘other cool stuff.’)

How are you calculating his loss in this scenario?


el-p (profile) says:

what i should have added is that both perceived (by me) “sides” are not just “wrong” but are also right. both hold pieces to the truth about how artists like me (or literally me) feel in these scenarios. both sides are mistaken in certain assumptions, at least in my opinion. when i get the chance in the next day ill try and explain my views. they wont be shocking or particularly unexpected, and they might not be defined well enough for either “side” to consider me their own… but they’ll be my thoughts. take em or leave em.

best, el

el-p (profile) says:

what i should have added is that both perceived (by me) “sides” are not just “wrong” but are also right. both hold pieces to the truth about how artists like me (or literally me) feel in these scenarios. both sides are mistaken in certain assumptions, at least in my opinion. when i get the chance in the next day ill try and explain my views. they wont be shocking or particularly unexpected, and they might not be defined well enough for either “side” to consider me their own… but they’ll be my thoughts. take em or leave em.

best, el

Anonymous Coward says:


Y’know, captain horseshit, what really pisses me off about you is that you won’t take ownership of your blatant shill opinions.

I mean, sure, when we do call you on it, every so often, you talk about how you’re apparently an incredibly successful musician who’s scared of the backlash from us scary, scary Techdirters.

Here’s the thing, though; you keep calling us all pirates, so let’s assume you’re right, and that we are. What are we gonna do? Not-pay-for-your-shit more?

No, if you’re scared of a backlash, you’re scared of it from people you know already give you money. You’re scared of a backlash from the people you know damn well pay you for what you claim to do, because of the absolutely abhorrent views you hold.

And that’s why you have to be a shill. Because anyone who really thinks the way you do would own it. And they’d want to own it.

And you don’t want to own it, because you know that the opinions you claim to hold directly oppose the opinions of the people who pay for stuff they value.

el-p says:

first off, thanks to leigh for emailing me today and thanks to everyone here for your ideas and comments. its clear he (and all of you) care about this subject. the truth is i really don’t fully know how i feel about it all and i’m not sure that i’m smart enough to fully tackle the subject. it’s tricky.

all i know is that i believe in operating within the realties that exist now and treating fans with respect within the context of those realties. i don’t agree with the draconian and aggressive manner in which the RIAA and others have reacted to those realities and i wont be caught trying to put band aids on cracks in the dam. i’d rather let that bitch flood and build a boat. that said, i cringe a bit when people disregard how tough it is for working musicians to deal with the new paradigm. cut us some slack. its all relatively new and we are trying our best to navigate choppy waters.

i want to trust that if people like my music they will support me. my heart tells me thats the case. i also know for a fact that many of the people that say they will support or even genuinely intend to may not, being that they have the finished product (or at least the most important piece of it) in their hands already. its just common sense.

so how do i feel? whats the right way? fuck if i know. but i’ll adapt and i’ll do it with respect and class and not kicking and screaming. theres a hell of a lot i could say about both sides of this particular subject, but honestly does it matter? you all have formed your opinions on it already and in the end people like me are still out here trying to make a living no matter what those opinions are… right, wrong or in-between.

i will say (and this is a portion of what i wrote to leigh today):

in these debates (no matter what venue) the artist almost always seems to be treated/viewed as a child. either we dont understand whats good for us, cant control whats happening to us, cant comprehend whats bad for us or we are not wise enough to be grateful for what we are handed. its a debate that rages on almost exclusively without the input of the artist themselves.

and maybe thats how it needs to be. at the end of the day we are trying to make a living doing what we love and it’s on us to determine how we handle it. im not sure any artist owes any explanation to anyone about the nuances of that, and im not sure anyone else can really understand what its like as an artist to negotiate all this unless they deal with it in the same way. everything takes on a different tone when paying your rent enters in to the debate. but don’t make the mistake of treating us condescendingly or with pity. i am not “begging” for anything by asking people to support by pre ordering if they enjoy the record. i’m trying to solidify and encourage the relationship i have with the people who i make the music for in the context of todays reality. simple as that.

i for one am determined to make the realities of todays music business work for me as best i can. i do not see the point in blaming the fans for a technological (and now cultural) reality that we all are involved in. they are my fans. they are my supporters. i think if i do my job and make something passionate and good then they’ll be motivated to engage with me. between me and them i’m sure we can figure out how to give each other what we need so we can continue to have a relationship. i’m not too worried about it.

for now i think we are finally settling in to a decent place with it all. of course if when my record drops and i don’t sell shit i might end up with a bit of a different take on it all. i reserve that right, but i doubt it.

anyway thanks for reading and thanks for taking the time to talk about all this. i’m going to drink some coffee and eat a bagel now. also, my cat won’t stop meowing.

best, el

MSC (profile) says:

A Sincere Word of Thanks


Thanks for taking the time to share your feelings and your point of view on all of this. It makes the discussion much more meaningful when those of us in the peanut gallery don’t have to assume that we know your take on these various points. While I find it annoying to have an AC “set me straight” I don’t mind at all when the actual artist in question steps in and gives us all the straight scoop. I’d even go as far as saying that your candor on the subject is part of being “honest and awesome” as Masnick likes to put it.

Keep up the good work and keep connecting with the fans!


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