Well, if nothing else, you can't knock Death Grips' work ethic. After becoming an indie sensation with their critically-acclaimed 2011 debut, "Exmilitary
" (still available for free
on Soundcloud), Death Grips signed with Epic and released "The Money Store
" in April, 2012.
Rather than rest on their newly-signed laurels, Death Grips announced that they would release another album in October
. And release it they did, only without Epic's involvement or blessing. The unofficial release of their third album began with this tweet
"The label wouldn't confirm a release date for NO LOVE DEEP WEB 'till next year sometime'"
Death Grips was looking to put another album out in October and if Epic couldn't keep up with their release schedule, so be it. Another tweet followed
, implying that Epic itself hadn't even heard the new album yet:
"The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you."
And away they went, dumping their brand new album into various file lockers and tweeting the links
to every new upload and blog entry referring to their impromptu release party.
We only have Death Grips' version of the events at this point, but it looks as though release date negotiations must have gone off the rails sometime on September 30th. A string of tweets paraphrasing a sample used on "Exmilitary's" first track, "Beware
," set the stage:
He came to me with money in his hand
He offered me I didn't ask him. I wasn't knockin someones door down. I was running from that.
I looked at it and said this is a bigger jail that I just got out of.
I run the underworld guy. I decide who does what and where they do it at.
What am I gonna run around and act like I'm some teeny bopper somewhere for someone else's money?
I ROLL THE NICKELS. THE GAME IS MINE. I DEAL THE CARDS.
About 12 hours after uploading NO LOVE DEEP WEB to their own site, it went down. Death Grips tweeted that Epic had shut down their website
. Epic has since denied it had anything to do with the shutdown
. Currently, Death Grips' site is still down
. It's entirely possible that the sudden influx of traffic crashed it. There have been no updates on the site's status from Death Grips.
That being said, there are a few reasons Epic might have delayed the release.
1. Major labels
like to shelve things
, sometimes indefinitely. This seldom
makes artists happy
, no matter the justification.
2. The album art
(definitely NSFW -- unless you're treating this person for erectile dysfunction or are This Guy
) was still under discussion.
3. Epic wasn't happy with Death Grips topping the Bittorrent charts
, legal or no. Death Grips seems to be fine with it. They're still giving away their first album at Soundcloud (although you're more than welcome to purchase it). Possibly they were considering "alternate distribution" and Epic iced the album in order to talk some sense into them. Not that this plan worked...
So, what have we learned? For starters, pissing off your artists in this day and age can have some serious repercussions, especially if you're in the business of collecting a chunk of every album sold. Windows are made to be broken. Buyer beware. Etc. Does this mean you should kowtow to every demand from your signed artists? No, but this does mean that setting release dates arbitrarily simply won't work anymore.
You also might want to take a good look at the artist you're signing and ask yourself, "Is this a good fit for a major label?" Between the explicit album cover, the Bittorrent numbers, the abrasive, uncompromising musical style, the fact that their first album sounded "like it was recorded under someone's house with a webcam
" and the general volatility of the recording industry, maybe everyone involved should have realized it was never going to work out.