I know a lot of people around don’t believe me when I occasionally argue that leaks – and the culture whereby people think they’re entitled to all the free music they want – are bad for musicians so don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the head of a independent label that sinks all its money into promoting some of the most innovative hip hop and electronic music around.
It was with considerable disappointment that we learnt in the last week that two records we have been working on have been leaked, despite the use of watermarked CDs. Toddla T’s Watch Me Dance(Ninja Tune) and Thundercat’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder) were both leaked from copies sent to the journalist Benjamin Jager at the offices of Backspin magazine in Germany.
The availability of these records online for free has meant a rush release of the digital version of Toddla’s record, which, after the years of work put in, will seriously affect the ability to make any kind of financial return from commercial release. No one at the magazine has yet taken responsibility for uploading these records to the internet, but until the situation is resolved, we will no longer be servicing Backspin with promo copies. It’s very hard for young, up and coming artists to make a living from their music. People uploading their music months before it is commercially available are not doing them any favours.
Everybody has their own views on how music should be consumed but it’s right there in black and white: leaks take money out of the pockets of the people who make the music happen, and often it’s the most enthusiastic fans who drive the demand for leaks.