Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Plug a Leaking Record–Don’t Even Try

wilco-album-coverIn the old days, back at the beginning of this decade, news that a band’s new album had leaked on the Internet before it went on sale was a big deal. And it occasioned lots of wailing and hair-pulling in the music business.

But that was when people still bought CDs. Now everyone from Britney Spears down to the smallest indie band routinely streams music for free, before the disc–or iTunes download–goes on sale, in order to whet appetites–or at least promote concert tours. No big deal.

But I still like the way that Wilco, the best band of all time in the whole wide world (disclosure: I am a big Wilco fan) handles this: Rather than linking up its free stream in a promotional tie-up, the band waits for the album to leak onto the Web, then streams it on their own site. And they ask fans who have helped themselves to an illegal download to donate to charity.

Slight bummer for Warner Music Group (WMG), which would like to sell as many discs as possible, but good vibes for everyone else. And, in truth, a nice promotion for the band as it heads out on tour this summer.

Here’s how the band describes it, via an email sent out last night:

Well, we made it nearly a month with copies of Wilco (the album) floating around out there before it leaked. Pretty impressive restraint in this day and age. But the inevitable happened last night. Since we know you’re curious and probably have better things to do than scour the internet for a download (though we do understand the attraction of the illicit), we’ve posted a stream of the full album at Feel free to refer to it as “wilco (the stream)” if you must.

We also have our usual guilt abatement plan for downloaders. If you have downloaded the record, we suggest you make a donation to one of the band’s favorite charities, the Inspiration Corporation–an organization we’ve supported in the past & who are doing great work in the city of Chicago. Information and donation button here:

If you don’t want to click through, here’s a version of the album’s first song, recorded last fall. Not as good as the album cut, in my humble opinion.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus