A year ago, we wrote about how the band Streetlight Manifesto was urging people to boycott
its own album, unless it was bought directly from the band, because their label, Victory Records, wasn't giving them any of the money. Here's what they said at the time:
We’re writing today to ask you to please boycott all Streetlight related items by not purchasing any of our records or merchandise from Victory’s website, any traditional CD stores, online third party retailers or any digital distribution service (iTunes, Amazon etc). Victory has a long-time reputation of pocketing all of the proceeds from a band’s music and merch, with shady accounting and generally bully-ish behavior. If you want to support Streetlight, our music and our ability to tour and continue to release music, please make all SM related purchases from our own webstore, The RISC Store (www.riscstore.com), or come out to a show and buy a shirt or cd from us directly. In regards to getting the music we make, you can buy directly from us, or, alternately, we’re sure you can find a way to get the tunes onto your computer that may not be, ahem, traditional… Speaking a Bit metaphorically, there is a Torrent of methods to accomplish this, and Google is your always loyal friend…
Believe it or not, things have now gotten even worse. Tim Griffiths
writes in to let us know that the band was preparing to launch its latest album, and had even been taking preorders for the album through its own store as mentioned above... but now they claim Victory won't even give them copies of their own album to sell
Q: Why do I not have my record yet? I totally want it.
A: Simple – Victory Records has refused to send us any of Streetlight’s new album. Without that – we can not send out pre-orders. Classy move. Read on for more information about your order.
The issue is made more complex by the fact that the band's lead singer, Toh Kay, also released a companion album
to the SM album, with a very similar name. SM's new album is The Hands That Thieve
, while Toh Kay's is The Hand That Thieves
. When Toh Kay put up a video from his album, Victory claimed it infringed on their copyright
and had it taken down.
Q: I wanted to hear the Toh Kay record. The music video – before Victory took it down – was beautiful and so was the song. My gosh. What happened?
A: Victory had given Streetlight a choice: either completely kill the Toh Kay record (their absurd reasoning was that its sale would “cannibalize” Streetlight sales, ha!) or hand it over to them so they can release it and exclusively profit from it. Streetlight has experienced and documented years of Victory not paying royalties while continuously profiting from their music, so it was a no-brainer. We had to cancel the record, no matter how much we all loved it and how hard the guys worked on it. That music video, by the way, is also “illegal”. So if you saw it – your eyes are criminals.
The band is offering to give back people's money, or figure out other ways to satisfy various orders. As in the past, they've also suggested that alternative means to finding the album might be fans' best path:
Q: The Streetlight record leaked online – I already ordered it through you – how should I feel inside about downloading it?
A: We can’t tell you how or where to download it – but if you already paid for it, and it’s being withheld from you by the band’s own record label – well, take that how you will.
And also, this:
Q: This whole situation makes me hate the music industry and I now understand why it – as a business entity – is failing across the board.
A: Yeah. I hear ya. I just downloaded Dredd 3D – wanna watch it with me?
Remember stories like this the next time labels pretend that they represent the best interests of artists.