On Leaks

I got scolded a lot over the first four or so years of running PropertyOfZack. A lot has changed in the past two years, both for myself (management, record label(s), etc) and for our scene (thinning out of bands, streaming advancements, the growling wallets of ten-yearification). But one thing that has not changed is how a lot of individuals on the “industry” side of the music industry act regarding information leaking out onto the internet. 

A condescending remark commonly directed towards me when I would leak info onto PropertyOfZack was that I didn’t understand how it would affect them because I wasn’t a member of the actual music industry. Well, turns out™, I am now. No one’s job is easy, including those that are publicists – the middlemen (and women) between a record label or band and the media. However, something that tons of record labels, bands, and especially publicists (example: Another Reybee Production) still do not understand in 2015 is that they only get paid in 2015 because of the internet. And the internet is a wild beast, and if you are stupid about how you poke the beast, you will be bit. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of five years that I was repremanded by publicists, not for leaks that I myself pushed forward, but for reposting leaked information that had already been published on major websites, often sites much bigger than PropertyOfZack.

There are really only two kinds of frequent leaks. One is 99% avoidable, the other is not.

Album Information/Song Leaks

Avoidable! A fun thing about being a manager, publicist, or record label-er is coming up with rollout and marketing plans. Album announcements often come with a new song. Those new songs often leak onto the internet before the record label and band announce the album – sometimes as much as a day or more before the song was meant to go live. Why is that, I’m sure you’ve wondered? Why would a label purposely lose money on pre-orders, YouTube revenue, etc. when so many of us want to throw cash at them to pre-order a new album? As always, the answer is distribution. If you are a record label and you know that your band’s new single is premiering at 2PM EST on a Tuesday, do not tell iTunes/Amazon/Spotify/Google Play to make that song available at midnight Tuesday. Instead, have them wait until midnight Wednesday. Even if someone in America does not notice a new song, someone in Australia – 12 hours ahead of you! – will. That song then gets on YouTube. Websites then post about these songs because…they were made available on the internet by record labels. Publicists then threaten websites because the labels made a mistake but do not want to take an ego hit, and then there’s bad blood (and we know that bandaids don’t fix bulletholes by now). This happens as often as seven times out of ten with certain specific labels. I – someone who is currently in charge of not one, but two, record labels – have to set distribution release markers all the time. It’s not that hard, it just takes some brain power. There are always exceptions. There are always fuckups. But for the internet’s sake, be aware that the internet exists and you’re trying to make money off of it. 

Tour Date Leaks

How do they happen? Well: Booking agents book tours for bands. A week to two weeks before tours are meant to be announced, booking agents send tour posters, lineup information, etc. to the promoters with whom they booked those tours. At the same time, managers typically send itineraries, admats, and other information to the other managers that have bands on the tour. This means a ton of information gets sent out to potentially 50+ parties in the matter of a few days. Those parties undoubtedly share that information with others, and those others without a doubt share that information on the internet, or at least with someone else who will put it on the internet. This sucks and there is no real way around it, but it’s a matter of keeping information as close to the chest as possible until it’s go time. 

I used to always post leaked tour dates on POZ until it stopped mattering to me. It took years (thank you, Merrick) for me to realize that it actually hurt bands to post this information early, rather than helping them just because a few readers of the site were excited about the news. But, in defense of the bloggers, information is information. And once something is out of the peanut-butter-that-can-kill-you tube, you can’t put it back in. 

Leaks suck, but they’re never going to stop. That comes as someone who has reported on leaks; leaked things; fought to keep leaks from happening; and planned around leaks. Just be smart. People are so often not smart.