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With the elections behind us, we can now get back down to business. Amongst all this Red State/Blue State stuff, we have been overlooking the industry everyone loves to hate, the music biz.

You may recall back in July we discussed Radio’s wounded business model; How thru consolidation of ownership, the elimination of local program managers and DJs  and generally short sighted planning, Radio has lost much of its influence as a "hit maker" to the internet and P2P.

Thank the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for this. That was the enabling legislation which allowed Clear Channel Communications (amongst others) to ramp up its massive consolidation of ownership, accumulating many stations — and eliminating much of the competition from the radio industry.

In the face of this, some conspiracy theorists believe that a major artist has gotten tired of the big Labels internet incompetence. The alleged theft of U2′s "How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," and its subsequent release on the P2P networks, is being suggested as not a theft at all.

The labels may not understand P2P, but according to this theory, the band does. It seems Interscope Records
(Geffen) wouldn’t allow Bono & Co. to release their tracks to the
P2P networks. So their master recording "accidentally" got left
somewhere (or stolen, depending upon which story you believe). Lo and behold, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
is showing up on Grokster, Limewire, Acquisition, Kazaa, Bit Torrent,  etc.

Incidentally, the last CD that this happened to was Eminem’s, which
despite all the file trading (or more likely, because of it) was a huge
8 million+ seller. Eminem’s label?  Its also (not coincidentally) Interscope.

Here’s what Audio Revolution had to say about it:

"Critics suggest that the theft of How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and its subsequent pre-release to the peer-to-peer sites might have been done for promotional purposes. If this is true, it is one of the first truly brilliant marketing moves to promote a big-release record in years.

The RIAA, with the support of the major labels, have been fighting file downloading in all forms while ignoring the media of the internet and PTP networks as a vastly powerful marketing tool. Since the 1960’s, FM radio was a make-it-or-break-it medium for new pop music.

In the last 10 to 15 years radio groups, many of whom own hundreds or in one case over 1000 radio stations in the US, have very much lost their power to reach the young GenY, record buying public. They are better reached via email, on a cell phone or through a peer-to-peer network.

Moreover, as much as the RIAA would argue the opposite, some suggest that the idea of an album getting on the Internet for illegal downloads actually boosts its overall sales. The last major artist this phenomenon of an “unauthorized pre-release on the net” happened to was Eminem and his record sold like hotcakes.

Expect U2’s How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb to hit store shelves early (but not too early to be the big pop release for the 2004 holiday season) and to sell like wildfire. Most likely the record will sell better than if there was no scandal over the tracks being available on the peer-to-peer networks and the associated free advertising that comes from the story."   (emphasis added)

U2_how_toIronically, depite the promotional assistance, the labels remain publicly dead set against legitimizing P2P in any way. Privately, they subscribe to services such as Big Champagne to track what is being downloaded. BC is the new Billboard.

If the U2 CD sells big, expect to see a spate of other "stolen" master recordings subsequently showing up online.

The only question is how long will it takes before some label hires a P2P savvy label exec. Once the labels finally wake up to what Clearchannel has done to their business model, they can finish off radio’s slow death and move fully into the digital age.


Source:
Was New U2 Album Hitting P-2-P Networks on Purpose?
Jerry Del Colliano
Audio Video Revolution, November 9, 2004
http://www.avrev.com/news/1104/9.u2.html

Cracking The Case Of The Stolen U2 CD
David Missio
ChartAttack, Tuesday July 27, 2004 @ 03:00 PM
http://www.chartattack.com/damn/2004/07/2702.cfm

Category: Finance, Music

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

16 Responses to “Was U2′s P2P release a Marketing Ploy?”

  1. Chibi says:

    How long indeed. Any cracks showing in the RIAA-Clear Channel-FCC-DoJ alliance yet? Or are we going to see more raids on file sharers? Or maybe they’re going to try an Australian *solution* first, i.e. outlaw iPods, which we all know has got to rank up there pretty high on the list of Stupid Ideas and if I may say so, the competition is pretty fierce in that department these days.

  2. Chris says:

    I disagree that radio is going to die. Public (and listener supported) radio keeps getting stronger.

    I live in Washington and there is radio station out of Seattle that i listen to about 12 hours a day, that is listener supported commericial free (expect for occasional 15 second “brought to you buy…”) eclectic rock.

    They recently expanded their reach by buying transmitters that hit further down the state.

    Check out KEXP, they stream and have great music.

    http://www.kexp.org/programming/programming.asp

    (i’m not affliated with the station, just an avid listener.)

  3. David Bennett says:

    One trend to remember is sell phones. In parts of this country we are moving to the “3g” technology. This should provide from 400 k bits to several meg, more than enough for high quality audio. Web connection is also a part of the process. So web stations of various forms (linear, menu driven etc.) will be coming into being.

    Of course (something that people forget) you can’t have a huge proprtion of the population using their phones near full bandwidth, but you can get significant numbers. Also a number of wireless nets (with more bandwidth) are not only Internet capable but merging into the phone system.

    Also using an “ipod model” one need not always download in real time, but load songs onto the phone. This can take advanatge of gaps in real time usage and increase efficiency.

    These developments are going to hit all forms of the music industry. Of course it takes time, which is why these things get downplayed, but the reality is that anyone can start a “radio station” and “record store” using material from friends etc. Quite subversive.

    Of course ownership of existing radio and television channels remains valuable. But I do suspect that within a decade many of them will be divided into many thousands of small local transmitters serving neighborhoods and other places that need increased wireless bandwidth. Even covering existing areas quite a bit more information can be packed in than is broadcast in present form.

  4. David Bennett says:

    The Grateful Dead encouraged bootlegs and it worked for them.

    One interesting manifestation was the “community” that built up around them. This included vendors of quite a few products and not simply the illegal.

    I think one likely development of web stations is clustering of various niches such as “local” sound or some type, structuring of the “culture” and a variety of products.

    Ideologically a lot of bands will be forced into this if they don’t want to be “sell outs” and groups which put together blatantly commercial packages like the “spice girls” are going to see that control of these stations gives them a bigger margin and direction of various products.

  5. u2 games the p2p networks?

    barry’s keeping me on the ball, so to speak, with this piece on the u2 album “leak”… we discussed this promotional approach back in january…. here. of course, taking credit for this strategy essentially blows the strategy, so we’ll probably…

  6. Broadcast Flag

    In November 2003 the Federal Communication Commission issued an order to

  7. Broadcast Flag

    In November 2003 the Federal Communication Commission issued an order to

  8. Broadcast Flag

    In November 2003 the Federal Communication Commission issued an order to

  9. Broadcast Flag

    In November 2003 the Federal Communication Commission issued an order to

  10. Broadcast Flag

    In November 2003 the Federal Communication Commission issued an order to

  11. Accidental pre-releases?

    Apparently the new U2 Album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb has been leaked onto P2P systems before its release. Some are suggesting this this release was not accidental. Same thing happened with Eminem’s new release as well — from the same label. Ac…

  12. Accidental pre-releases?

    Apparently the new U2 Album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb has been leaked onto P2P systems before its release. Some are suggesting this this release was not accidental. Same thing happened with Eminem’s new release as well — from the same label. Ac…

  13. Accidental pre-releases?

    Apparently the new U2 Album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb has been leaked onto P2P systems before its release. Some are suggesting this this release was not accidental. Same thing happened with Eminem’s new release as well — from the same label. Ac…

  14. Accidental pre-releases?

    Apparently the new U2 Album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb has been leaked onto P2P systems before its release. Some are suggesting this this release was not accidental. Same thing happened with Eminem’s new release as well — from the same label. Ac…

  15. ptalk says:

    P2P = FM?

    Is P2P the new radio? Moreover, as much as the RIAA would argue the opposite, some suggest that the idea of an album getting on the Internet for illegal downloads actually boosts its overall sales. The last major artist this…

  16. Adrienne says:

    What does the album cover of Achtung Baby mean?