Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on December 1st, 2006 on AllHipHop.com as part of my "State Of Hip Hop/Poisonous Paragraphs" blog series. I usually posted my blogs up at 8:00 PM on Fridays but I posted it at Noon and put [LEAKED] next to the title as was common practice with leaked albums in The Reason. Also "Hip Hop Is Dead" hadn't leaked yet so my inbox was full of requests for it. I didn't respond to any of them and it officially leaked the next week. Here we go:
This is a public service announcement to all record labels: Stop pushing back albums in hope of generating more of a buzz. The shit doesn't work! If it leaked...just say "Fuck it" and release it ANYWAYS! If you do anything then PUSH THE RELEASE DATE UP!
Everyone in the recording industry is concerned about album leaks and illegal downloading, yet few seem to actually be proactive in doing something about it. Let's all face facts, the the old way of releasing albums might be dead forever. If you think you can release a single and video and have that running for two entire months and THEN release the album then you're clearly out of your minds.
People have the means to get their hands on that material and they will use it, the industry is in the hands and ears of the audience now and record labels and corporations need to stop fighting this fact and come to grips with it.
By the same token, if they think that the answer to making money off of an album that leaked early is to hold it back for 4 more months, record more material for it, make another video for it and THEN release it again the result will be TWO VERSIONS of the same heavily bootlegged LP (as in the case of Lupe Fiasco).
There are several instances of albums that were never formerly released by the original label being bootlegged so heavily that they were released due to public demand. This happened with KMD's "Black Bastards" LP, UTD's "Manifest Destiny", InI's "Center Of Attention", Main Source's "Fuck What You Think" and more recently with Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine".
What's even weirder that there have been albums that have been so heavily bootlegged and requested by the public that record labels just refuse to release them. These include Large Professor's "The LP", Jungle Brothers' "Crazy Wisdom Masters", Foxy Brown's "Ill Na Na 2: The Fever", 2Pac's "One Nation" and Clipse's "Exclusive Audio Footage".
The question remains: What do labels gain by not releasing already bootlegged material? Pride? Get the fuck outta here! Isn't the whole purpose of singles and radio airplay to generate interest and create buzz for an upcoming project? By that same line of thinking then doesn't it make sense to release a product that the public is obviously clamoring for?
Once an albums release date is announced nowadays, fans immediately being doing something called "leak math" to determine when it will be available for download online through either a private source, torrents or a music blog (It usually falls between 7-14 days before it's release).
As soon as an album is available for download, posters on music messageboards announce the leak and visitors either receive links to the leak via PM's and inboxes or they perform Google and Blogger searches to find them on their own.
In some cases, if the downloader likes the album, they'll go out and purchase it when it actually comes out. In many cases, it will end up on a computer hard drive or in an MP3 player/phone/iPod. In other cases, it will get erased.
Regardless of which of the above happen, said album will be discussed ad naseum on internet messageboards. This online feedback, oddly enough ends up being promotional material that will affect whether a poster will go out and purchase said album for themselves or not.
Several albums have suffered saleswise due to labels pushing back their releases and putting out another single because of greed or bootlegging. The three biggest losers due to both reasons this past year were Busta Rhymes' "The Big Bang", Pharrell Williams' "In My Mind" and Lupe Fiasco's "Food & Liquor".
Had Busta's album dropped while either "Touch It" or the remix was STILL hot on the radio and the label didn't delay it and release the lackluster "I Love My Chick (Bitch)" sales would've been better...instead, it just set the album up for heavier bootlegging.
If Pharrell's album been dropped back when "You Want It Like That" still been hot on the radio it possibly would've sold better. Unfortunately, the label pushed it back and made the mistake of making "Number One" the next single and added some questionable elements to the video that alienated some potential buyers (close ya shirts, niggas!).
If "Food & Liquor" would've dropped while "Kick, Push" was still hot (even with the 2 month premature leak). I'm SURE it would've done better than Lupe did with his album being pushed back another 4 months and the initial leak still floating around the net along with his 1st & 15th mixtapes, "Lupe The Jedi" and "Touch The Sky" still in everyone's iPods.
The initial buzz had died down by the time "I Gotcha" dropped...besides, by then online heads had already heard "I Gotcha" and "Daydreaming" anyways.
All these "marketing strategies" succeeded in doing was assure that these albums would be heavily bootlegged and downloaded due to demand and overall interest. Even people that AREN'T fans or potential listeners can't wait for the leak just so they can download, listen and talk shit about it in person or on messageboards...it's become a sport now!
In conclusion, record labels need to realize that we fans don't need two entire goddamn months of the same song on the radio and THEN an album to drop, if the songs is still hot...DROP THE FUCKIN' ALBUM! Don't get greedy and try to squeeze out another single, it will only make people want to bootleg your shit even more.
It's a Catch 22 and the digital hole in the marketplace, public demand and the online community make it a game record companies cannot hope to win so just put the album out and promote it. Whatever happens from there happens!
The market has made it so that the following albums are going to be the next to be heavily bootlegged once they leak: Dr. Dre's "Detox", Raekwon's "Only Built For Cuban Linx 2", Redman's "Red Gone Wild", Joe Budden's "The Growth", Talib Kweli's, "Eardrum", Saigon's "The Greatest Story Never Told" and Papoose's "The Nacirema Dream" are all amongst the most anticipated upcoming projects in 2007.
Well, y'all get the idea...I'm off to listen to "More Fish", "True Magic" and "Hip Hop Is Dead...The N". I'll buy 'em all...I promise!