In a recent interview, Jay-Z’s manager (John Meneilly) announced that “Watch the Throne”, the upcoming collaborative album between Jay-Z and Kanye West, “is not going to leak.”
“Leak” here refers to the album being illegally available for download online prior to it being available in stores. According to the story on Rap-Up.com, the release dates of both the digital and physical editions of the album “have been staggered” to prevent the album from leaking.
Personally I couldn’t care less about anything Jay-Z and Kanye West are releasing, so that’s not the story here. The interesting thing to me is how ignorant music producers apparently are in regards to how albums “leak”.
“Watch the Throne” is set to be released Friday, August 12, and let’s say you’ve decided to buy the album from Best Buy. Best Buy opens at 10am, so 10am Friday is, for you, the earliest you could get this album. To figure out how an album leaks, all you have to do is work backwards from that point.
As someone who used to work at Best Buy, I can tell you that our big trucks delivered merchandise to our store twice a week (I believe on Tuesdays and Saturdays). That means if an album is going to go on sale on Friday, it’s been sitting in the back since Tuesday. And trust me, there are no armed guards back there watching over those CDs. Hell, back when I worked there, there weren’t even any cameras in the back. CDs got opened in the store all the time. There are (or at least were) listening stations with headphones connected to them, there are CDs that get returned … trust me, there are a billion ways to get a copy of those CDs.
Maybe John Meneilly thinks CDs are magically created and drop shipped to retail stores, but they’re not. Instead they’re pressed in manufacturing plants and shipped on trucks. People work in those plants, and people drive those trucks. Anyone along that manufacturing and delivery path that has physical access to the CD could make a copy without anyone knowing.
Fueling the race for leaks are online warez groups, who gain “cred” by being the first to release an album. It is not unheard of for warez groups to “reimburse” those that give them access to pre-release music. Last month, Beyonce’s album leaked 3 weeks early. Earlier this year, the new Foo Fighters album leaked over a month early, while Lady Gaga’s only leaked about a week early. Name dropping is pointless; almost every noteworthy album leaks these days so it’s not a matter of “if”, but “how early”. Usher’s last album leaked two months early, as did Wilco’s. All of a sudden, finding out that your album only leaked a week or so early doesn’t sound so bad.
Keep in mind, this is all about keeping albums from leaking on to the Internet before they are released in stores. “Watch the Throne” goes on sale Friday, August 12th, at 10am at Best Buy, right? If by some miracle it doesn’t leak, it’ll be ripped to mp3s by 10:05am and be available for download five minutes after that. If this particular album is available at Walmart, it’ll probably be on sale at midnight on the 11th, meaning it’ll be on the Internet long before Best Buy unlocks their doors.
But mark my words, this album will leak. Why? Because John Meneilly announced that it wouldn’t. If I were in the music-leaking business (and I most certainly am not), I would do whatever it took to leak that CD. My guess is, the guy was asked if he was worried about the album leaking and made a bold, and potentially dangerous public statement. Mark my words; this album will be available for download prior to August 12th, if it isn’t already.