Somebody sure wanted a blockbuster No. 1 opening weekend for their new album. Along with the months-long promotional lead-up to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album, sales for the release received an extra boost when Amazon made it available for 99 cents. The sale was good on the day of the release, which moved up to Monday (May 23), instead of the industry-recognized Tuesday standard for new albums. The move (usually done to beat down lost sales from early online leaks, but, in this case, it’s more likely another stunt for more attention) caused many other labels to push their releases scheduled for May 24 up to May 23, as well. If the new K-Tel-like Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 23,251 isn’t released this week, it might be worth a Vegas trip just to place a bet — Born is a lock for the No. 1 position
iTunes’ Brain Fart
Record labels can (and often do) take many measures to ensure that a new album doesn’t get leaked early and spread throughout the cyber jungle well in advance of the actual release date.
But sometimes all the copy-protection and legal threats in the world can’t stop “human error,” which, these days, usually translates to “someone pressed the wrong button.” That appears to be what happened with the latest, highly anticipated release from Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver. The self-titled sophomore album is reportedly due out June 21, but when iTunes posted the album’s single “Calgary” on May 17, someone accidentally made the entire album available. Though quickly fixed, many fans were reportedly able to download the full-length and, according to Rolling Stone’s reporting, it was widely available within an hour on various file-sharing services. Might not matter — as every good hipster knows, the leak of Bon Iver’s first album was so much better than the second one.
Licensed to Sue
Even singles and albums that are safely posted to download retailers are causing headaches for labels and artists. Last week, Rob Zombie, (both solo and with his band, White Zombie), Whitesnake and Dave Mason filed a class-action lawsuit against Universal Music Group in an effort to receive higher royalties on the sales of digital music. A similar case involving Eminem was recently denied a Supreme Court hearing, letting stand a federal court decision that said a download should count as “licensing” (which entitles creators to 50 percent of each sale) and not “sales” (which usually pays artists just 10-15 percent). The New York Times report said lawyers expect more suits to emerge from artists who signed contracts pre-download domination. We’re hoping the suit is successful — Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale really needs his $35 cut so he can have his blonde highlights touched up at Supercuts.