Advice to Record Labels, Vinyl + Japandroids

I love that labels have gotten wise enough to see that providing free, high-quality downloads on a vinyl purchase is a service that collectors see as valuable but there is one MAJOR problem with the way they do this.

Take this email I received from Insound today:

INSOUND EXCLUSIVE! Insound is the only place to purchase the upcoming vinyl LP release of Japandroid’s Post-Nothing! Insound LP+MP3! Purchase this LP and you’ll receive a link to download the MP3s for free on the 4/28 release date!

Advice to the labels: everything leaks, minimize the impact by offering these high quality downloads on the day the album leaks. When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs album leaked last month the label moved up the ‘digital release date’ by a month or so. What they should have done is immediately offered the album download to anyone who had already preordered and to anyone who ordered a physical copy from that point on. Also, I think if you own an album you should be able to get a “clean” digital version as well (you know, for the kiddies).

I actually like Insound quite a bit, they have great prints (I ordered a killer Grizzly Bear print and preordered the Veckatimest vinyl two or so months ago and I love it), they carry most of the bands I care and write about and their prices are a helluva lot better than those brick and morter jokes like Best Buy and FYE.

//end rant

Japandroids are a band that I recently discovered (and wrote about) but have since gone back and checked out a little more. The All Lies EP from ’07 is a mixed batch. It sounds like a band who knows the style they are going for but don’t quite have all the kinks worked out… some highlights:

      Japandroids - Press Corps

      Japandroids - Coma Complacency

I’ve only heard one song from Japandroids new album, Post-Nothing, and I think it is superb. I am hoping that this album has a clearer direction and some sharper edges. The vocals and song melodies in particular have come a long way from the EP… check it out:

      Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire

If you like the music, check out the preorder and maybe tell Insound you want your download the day the album leaks!

Comments

  1. Greg says:

    Hey there. Greg from Japandroids’ label here.

    We completely agree with your sentiments, which is partly why we’re releasing this album the way we are.

    That said, we’ve had to be vigilant regarding leaks, and try to minimize their impact prior to release. If we had a wide-spread leak, we’d be in trouble, and we yes, we’d have to consider releasing the MP3s prior to the vinyl release date.

    The problem with this is the impact it has on straight up digital downloads, since, of course, at least some of the people who get the MP3s ahead of our release date will share them, and the illegal availability of music will expand. Double edged sword.

    Also: If you like “Young Hearts Spark Fire”, we think you’ll love the rest of the album. “Heart Sweats”, another song, is up on Pitchfork for download as well now.

  2. LiquidHeaven says:

    Hey greg… thanks for checking out the blog and thanks for the response.

    The point I am making is that a leak is at odds with a release date and labels are too focused on setting this special date that the rest of the world gets to hear the music but when something leaks people become aware of that and want it right then. My point is that I think it would actually increase sales if high quality versions were put on sale the day something leaks because often leaks are of low-ish quality.

    If something leaks and I know about it and I know I can buy it right then or go take my chance on a download that won’t be of good quality… and better yet, if I can buy the vinyl –keep the release date on that because its a production issue– and get those files at 320kbps… I am interested in that.

    Currently an album leaks, I find out about it and I can wait the typical 2 months to street date or I can go download and then decide if I want it… but once I’ve heard it, unless its blowing my mind, I probably am not going to the record store on release date to purchase.

    I think the Japandroids comes out in 12 days or so? That’s pretty good that is hasn’t leaked but it will leak before street date I’m sure. I think you should offer anyone who preordered the vinyl their downloads the day it does. It’s a step in the right direction.

  3. Greg says:

    I think you make a good point. It’s not always our choice as to how the release is co-ordinated, but if this becomes an issue with Japandroids’ release, we will consider doing what you suggest (if it’s technically feasible).

    There was a low-quality rip from last.fm that was passed around briefly, but the person who posted it was kind enough to take it down when we asked them to.

  4. LiquidHeaven says:

    Who is the decision maker on that type of stuff? Next time I’ll bag on them!

  5. Greg says:

    Haha. Well with indies that really depends. In some cases the label will call the shots. In others, it’s the distributor (for example, the policy you quoted in your article is Insound’s, although they are awesome guys and very flexible, so if we asked for something slightly different, they might oblige us).

    With a major label, it also varies, but you’re probably dealing with at least some degree of bureaucracy that muddles things up and prevents any sort of radical departure from “the way it’s done”.

    What you can really bag on are the established distribution mechanisms that are horribly out-dated these days. What we might disagree on is the positive impact on sales that a leak will have — because while it does encourage additional exposure, we’ve yet to see a real jump in sales as a result of one of our albums leaking.

    I can think of one recent example where our album was getting upwards of 15,000 downloads a week illegally (I watch the trackers), with fairly flat sales (digital and physical). It’s kind of disheartening, but yes, it’s nice to know people liked it.

    Also, with a typical indie release, the 5-10,000 downloads you might (optimistically) see illegally before release on a leak are not enough to make a label want to push up the release date. Larger bands, yes, but then you’re potentially talking hundreds of thousands of downloads.

  6. LiquidHeaven says:

    It leaked. Now what?

  7. LiquidHeaven says:

    I don’t think a leak has a positive impact, it would be great to be able to keep a release date, I think thats got to be the best for thing for the band and the label and anyone looking to make any money off a record sale but a release date doesn’t exist anymore, its a leak date. Someone needs to find a way to make money off a leak and I think I have proposed an alternative that could make some sense.

    In this insta-gratification world nobody wants to wait 2 weeks (usually more like 2 months) to pay to hear something that they can get free today. Give me a reason to pay you today, often its a headache even finding a leak once you know its out there with links being pulled and stuff.

    I think that should still be chased down and offer high quality versions for sale, alert as many people as you can about it and give people a place to go.

    A while back I was having such a hard time finding the Dark Was the Night comp so I decided to go to their site to buy it (happy to help the cause) but the damn thing wasn’t even available. I could preorder and wait two weeks but as a music fan and blogger waiting that time puts me behind the curve. I can’t wait that two weeks, by the time the release date actually makes it we’re all talking about the next 5 good things that leaked in the meantime.

    I never paid for Dark Was the Night and I even tried to. That’s where I came up with this idea in the first place.

  8. Greg says:

    We are releasing the MP3s today for those who pre-order the vinyl on Insound (and if you pre-ordered before, you will receive an email letting you know you can download the MP3s ahead of the April 28th release date).

    This was partially the result of this conversation. The argument is valid, and I think the result is a good compromise between pushing up the release date and ignoring leaks (which is impossible these days).

  9. LiquidHeaven says:

    Very cool Greg. Thanks for listening and good luck with the album. If you have anything you want posted in the future add me to your distro list!

  10. LiquidHeaven says:

    How will you decide if you did the right thing? And when will you know?

    I’m interested in hearing your thoughts after implementing the new strategy.

  11. diligentme says:

    Liquid… I agree w/ U 100%, Greg… will there be a digital purchase only option? I personally could careless about vinyl as I don’t own a record player.