X&Y Finally Leaked
Originally posted on May 31, 2005 9:25 PM
If it was not bad enough to be trounced at the top of the singles chart by a ringtone amphibian, Coldplay have now discovered that their meticulously prepared new album, X&Y, was leaked on to the internet a week before its European release.
Music fans began freely downloading the 12 tracks from the band's eagerly awaited third album within minutes of its being posted on websites on Monday, despite an unprecedented effort by their record company, EMI, to prevent their new songs being illegally distributed over the net.
The illegal file sharing of X&Y emphasises the helplessness of mighty global corporations pitted against the piratical power of the internet. Artists including Madonna, U2 and Eminem have been forced to bring forward album releases or offer free tracks on websites after songs appeared online before reaching the shops.
EMI is desperate for Coldplay's new release to match the success of the band's second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, which sold 11m copies worldwide. X&Y was 18 months in the making and in its remaking - 60 songs were written but not used and the band pushed back a March release date to finetune their work. While the singer, Chris Martin, recently declared he did not care about EMI, and said shareholders were "the greatest evil of this modern world", his failure to meet his label's first deadline was partly blamed for a profits warning in February that wiped more than £300m from EMI's share price. Sales at EMI's music division fell 7.4% in the year to March 31. A source close to the band said there was nothing at this stage they could do to stem the leaks.
The British Phonographic Industry praised EMI for its efforts to stop the pre-release piracy of X&Y. Review copies of the CD went under a false name - the Fir Trees - and were personally handed to the media by EMI representatives.
Reviewers were compelled to sign a legally binding non-disclosure document. Employees at CD pressing plants were routinely searched, while fan sites claimed the company prevented a student radio station in California playing the album before release.
The band tried to persuade impatient fans to wait for the official European release on June 6 by offering them the chance to listen to the album on the official website.
The album is released in Japan today, a situation that was always expected to lead to a flurry of illegal offerings on the internet.
EMI would not comment on its anti-piracy measures or how it would pursue the "uploaders" responsible for illegally putting it on the net, but the company said it not believe sales would be hit by the leak.
"We've had an amazing success with stopping the leaking," a spokeswoman said. "It is a testament to the pre-release protection we put in place to have an album of this profile kept secure until a day before its commercial release [in Japan]. No other album has come that close to commercial release before it has become available."
A BPI spokesman said the record industry body had run seminars for its members to help combat pre-release piracy. "As soon as something is recorded there is a risk it will find its way on to the internet. The fact the leak is so late in the day underlines how strong EMI's pre-release anti-piracy campaign was." The spokesman said the challenge for the record industry was to focus on "ripping groups", bands of hackers who compete for the cachet of being the first to upload pirated music, films or computer games. The key was intercepting those groups before the music got to the "peer-to-peer" networks where the damage was done in terms of effect on sales.
"The prevention rather than cure mantra is absolutely key for us, and we are working very closely with our members to keep piracy to a minimum."
Source: Guardian Unlimited.
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