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Stars step up war on leaks

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Rap superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West employed tight security and extreme tactics to ensure their album Watch The Throne did not fall victim to the curse that hits almost every other big release - the online leak.

When Watch The Throne, the hotly anticipated collaboration between the two hip-hop heavyweights, was released on iTunes last week, the music was not the only talking point.

Virtually every major artist - from Lady Gaga to U2 - has found their music being leaked.

So how did Jay-Z and Kanye stop it happening to them?

Billboard magazine reported some of the steps they took - such as storing the music on fingerprint-protected hard drives that were kept in locked suitcases.

To keep hackers out, their producers turned off wi-fi on their computers as the album was recorded in pop-up studios in hotel rooms around the world.

Draft versions of songs were not sent by email. Instead, the duo insisted that all collaborators must come to their temporary studios to record their contributions in person.

The album's art director Virgil Abloh even suggested on Twitter - possibly joking, possibly not - that producer Noah Goldstein had been "sleeping with the hard drives for like 10 months straight".

Only a small circle of people had access to the music before it was released on iTunes last Monday, at which point it was delivered to a CD manufacturing plant.

The album has now broken the iTunes one-week sales record, selling almost 290,000 copies in its first seven days.

Jeremy Banks, anti-piracy director at the IFPI, the global body representing record labels, said that as far as he could recall, Watch The Throne's anti-leak strategy was "the most successful to date".

Such measures are becoming more common, he believes. "With each release, people learn from the lessons of previous releases.

"You would expect that given the success of something like this that other releases will be looked at and potentially treated in the same way."

John Giacobbi, founder of internet security company Web Sheriff, which has worked with such artists as Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Adele, says pre-release leaks are virtually inevitable.

"These days 99% of albums will leak early, it's just a fact of life," he says. "The bigger battle really is containing the leak once they have leaked."

So where do leaks come from?

Mr Giacobbi says most are traced to journalists who need to hear an album up front in order to review it.

Others occur once the music enters the CD manufacture and distribution process. Leaks from people working in studios are less common.

"Typically it would be beyond the studio, once you move above that process through to distribution," says Mr Banks.

"For that moment in time, that content is the crown jewels for that particular artist and that particular label, and it needs to be dealt with accordingly."

One growing threat is hackers, who have broken into producers' e-mail accounts and other online storage systems.

In June two German men, who targeted stars such as Lady Gaga and Dr Dre, were convicted of copyright theft and computer intrusion after hacking into private e-mail accounts and distributing pre-release music.

One of the men, who went by the name DJ Stolen, was also found guilty of extortion and was jailed for 18 months.

"These days producers either keep everything on a portable hard drive and keep it under the mattress or, if they're keeping stuff online, have it very heavily protected and firewalled," Mr Giacobbi says.

While Watch The Throne did not leak, hackers took control of the Twitter account of one of the album's other producers, Mike Dean, to claim they had been sitting on a copy for a month.

They did not leak it, they said, because they "didnt wont [sic] to hurt the team and KW".

The consequences of a leak can be "fairly dire" in terms of lost sales and disrupted schedules, Mr Giacobbi says.

There is also the annoyance to artists who may have been working on an album for years and want to control the way in which it emerges.

Lady Gaga at Best Buy Lady Gaga turned up to buy her own album Born This Way, a week after it leaked

Once it happens Web Sheriff has deals with major file-hosting services, such as Mediafire and Rapidshare, allowing the company to remove files within minutes.

But as well as attempting to throttle the leaks, Web Sheriff also appeals to fans' and bloggers' better natures by politely asking them not to share leaked material and to report any leaks they find.

Lady Gaga's Born This Way was one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year. Prior to its release in May, Web Sheriff took to Twitter and fan forums.

"We would kindly ask you not to post pirated copies of Born This Way on your site," the message read.

"The label, management and artist would greatly appreciate your co-operation... Thank you for respecting the artist's and label's wishes."

The album did leak a week early. But Mr Giacobbi says a more gentle approach does pay off.

He adds that fans were offered approved Lady Gaga material such as taster tracks, videos and video blogs in return.

"If you treat fans like fans, instead of treating them like criminals, it tends to work," he says.

"We set up a mailbox where all the fans globally could report the leaked files. It was amazing - we had literally thousands if not tens of thousands of fans sending in links.

"They were co-operating because they love Lady Gaga. She has a very close bond with her fanbase and they actually wanted to help.

"So it's working with the fans as opposed to working against them. At the same time, it wasn't a one way street.

"It was you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. It's a much better way of doing it."

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14536664

Given Guns N' Roses previous history with this issue, I thought this may be interesting to some of you. Especially the stuff towards the end, in contrast to the Skwerl situation. I have to say, I completely agree with it.

Also, if those are the lengths that Jay-Z and Kanye went to, can you imagine what Axl does?! Probably has a USB stick up his anus. It would explain why he gets so uptight.

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Given Guns N' Roses previous history with this issue, I thought this may be interesting to some of you. Especially the stuff towards the end, in contrast to the Skwerl situation. I have to say, I completely agree with it.

I think the difference here is the communication between the artists and their labels and their fans. Read the part again about how they treat their fans as FANS and not criminals.

When Skwerl leaked what he did, there was ZERO indication from Axl or the record company that the CD was ever coming out. In that complete vacuum of information it only made sense for us to grab what we could while we could cause it might have been the only music we'd ever hear from Axl. Had Axl or the label kept us updated none of that would have ever happened. If we KNEW the album was coming out for real, some of us might have been more inclined to wait to hear the official release. And Skwerl wouldn't have had to be arrested by the damn FBI.....talk about treating fans like criminals!!

Axl has nobody to blame but himself. I've read plenty of press releases from other bands that say stuff like "We know there are low quality leaks out there, but please wait and hear the album the way it was intended and enjoy the proper artwork" etc. But Axl can't be arsed to communicate with his fans if his fucking life depended on it, so we'll take what we can, when we can get it, cause that's what we've come to understand. His own fault.

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When will this silly music artist learn, leaks HELP not hurt, they are stupid.

Plus albums are a thing of the past, singles are where its at.

If they were smart they would just release a single every few months.

Going after fans for listening to leaks alienates them from their fans, they should only go after who stole the songs and the fans that share them.

That has been going on for a long time. How do they think underground bands started?

You would discover a band and give your friend a tape of them then they would get into it and give it to another friend etc etc.

The lables are just greedy.

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When will this silly music artist learn, leaks HELP not hurt, they are stupid.

Plus albums are a thing of the past, singles are where its at.

If they were smart they would just release a single every few months.

Going after fans for listening to leaks alienates them from their fans, they should only go after who stole the songs and the fans that share them.

That has been going on for a long time. How do they think underground bands started?

You would discover a band and give your friend a tape of them then they would get into it and give it to another friend etc etc.

The lables are just greedy.

Whilst I agree with your general point, I think the likes of Lady Gaga have got it right. People are gonna download no matter what, but that doesn't stop her asking her fans (meaning forum dwellers and the like) to wait until it's released, and giving them a bunch of free material to ease the wait.

Chinese Democracy is a poor example because of the extended history, but let's say Chinese Democracy II is set to be released in November, and this has been officially confirmed. A bunch of my friends are still going to download it because they're not as interested as I am, but if Axl came online a couple weeks/ten days before the album (the time it may leak) and said please don't download, and uploaded shit like the Better video, a new single, video blog, alternate versions of songs, or any of those things, and I reckon a significant percentage of fans (meaning forum dwellers and the like) would be less inclined to download the album a week early.

And on another note, I think albums are once again a more popular thing than they have been in the last five years.

Edited by Conor

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leaking doesnt do shit its more complex than that

it's wrong to steal music or take it for granted but it's also wrong to put it on a pedestral above "normal" work

the economy is down, people see rockstars earning trillions for basically nothing (compared to what a lowlife working poor has to put up with) = less respect for the artists regardless how good the work is

CD's are too expensive, most albums suck or don't match the short attention span of today's audience, most records only have 3 or 4 songs worth listening (unless you are hardcore or deaf), rest being filler or wank = no value for money

concert tickets are too expensive, venues rip you and arm and leg for what should be free (parking, good seats for the rich instead of first come first serve) on top of the tix , major acts only play big cities wich means travel costs = seldom more than 3 shows a year per household possible

the lyrics suck, most artists are whores, no more soul in their voices or music, no more emotional attachement to the music or the artist = less money to be made

music is ALL about emotion and communication but for the labels and promoters it's about naturally money and for the artists it's more about their ego

many true artists recluse in frustration or suffer unrecognized because the majority of the audience consits of spoonfed dumbfucks who would eat their own shit if it came with wrapped up in glitter on tv

that is the truth

leaking has aboslutely nothing to do with artists making less money, it's just one symptom of a totally fucked up society

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leaking doesnt do shit its more complex than that

it's wrong to steal music or take it for granted but it's also wrong to put it on a pedestral above "normal" work

the economy is down, people see rockstars earning trillions for basically nothing (compared to what a lowlife working poor has to put up with) = less respect for the artists regardless how good the work is

CD's are too expensive, most albums suck or don't match the short attention span of today's audience, most records only have 3 or 4 songs worth listening (unless you are hardcore or deaf), rest being filler or wank = no value for money

concert tickets are too expensive, venues rip you and arm and leg for what should be free (parking, good seats for the rich instead of first come first serve) on top of the tix , major acts only play big cities wich means travel costs = seldom more than 3 shows a year per household possible

the lyrics suck, most artists are whores, no more soul in their voices or music, no more emotional attachement to the music or the artist = less money to be made

music is ALL about emotion and communication but for the labels and promoters it's about naturally money and for the artists it's more about their ego

many true artists recluse in frustration or suffer unrecognized because the majority of the audience consits of spoonfed dumbfucks who would eat their own shit if it came with wrapped up in glitter on tv

that is the truth

leaking has aboslutely nothing to do with artists making less money, it's just one symptom of a totally fucked up society

crybaby.png?w=300&h=425

http://www.gunsnfnroses.com/index.php?/topic/305-banned-members/page__view__findpost__p__12316 :CoolFace:

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leaking doesnt do shit its more complex than that

it's wrong to steal music or take it for granted but it's also wrong to put it on a pedestral above "normal" work

the economy is down, people see rockstars earning trillions for basically nothing (compared to what a lowlife working poor has to put up with) = less respect for the artists regardless how good the work is

CD's are too expensive, most albums suck or don't match the short attention span of today's audience, most records only have 3 or 4 songs worth listening (unless you are hardcore or deaf), rest being filler or wank = no value for money

concert tickets are too expensive, venues rip you and arm and leg for what should be free (parking, good seats for the rich instead of first come first serve) on top of the tix , major acts only play big cities wich means travel costs = seldom more than 3 shows a year per household possible

the lyrics suck, most artists are whores, no more soul in their voices or music, no more emotional attachement to the music or the artist = less money to be made

music is ALL about emotion and communication but for the labels and promoters it's about naturally money and for the artists it's more about their ego

many true artists recluse in frustration or suffer unrecognized because the majority of the audience consits of spoonfed dumbfucks who would eat their own shit if it came with wrapped up in glitter on tv

that is the truth

leaking has aboslutely nothing to do with artists making less money, it's just one symptom of a totally fucked up society

crybaby.png?w=300&h=425

http://www.gunsnfnroses.com/index.php?/topic/305-banned-members/page__view__findpost__p__12316 :CoolFace:

yeah whatever

awesome reply

you are the greatest

happy now?

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leaking doesnt do shit its more complex than that

it's wrong to steal music or take it for granted but it's also wrong to put it on a pedestral above "normal" work

the economy is down, people see rockstars earning trillions for basically nothing (compared to what a lowlife working poor has to put up with) = less respect for the artists regardless how good the work is

CD's are too expensive, most albums suck or don't match the short attention span of today's audience, most records only have 3 or 4 songs worth listening (unless you are hardcore or deaf), rest being filler or wank = no value for money

concert tickets are too expensive, venues rip you and arm and leg for what should be free (parking, good seats for the rich instead of first come first serve) on top of the tix , major acts only play big cities wich means travel costs = seldom more than 3 shows a year per household possible

the lyrics suck, most artists are whores, no more soul in their voices or music, no more emotional attachement to the music or the artist = less money to be made

music is ALL about emotion and communication but for the labels and promoters it's about naturally money and for the artists it's more about their ego

many true artists recluse in frustration or suffer unrecognized because the majority of the audience consits of spoonfed dumbfucks who would eat their own shit if it came with wrapped up in glitter on tv

that is the truth

leaking has aboslutely nothing to do with artists making less money, it's just one symptom of a totally fucked up society

I agree with pretty much everything you said. You know the music industry is fucked up when you got a bunch of dudes (who aren't gay) talking about how excited they are for the next Lady Gaga single or album.

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I agree with pretty much everything you said. You know the music industry is fucked up when you got a bunch of dudes (who aren't gay) talking about how excited they are for the next Lady Gaga single or album.

or mabye popular music just peaked? in the 90's in terms of creativity and diversity (grunge, trip hop, country, brit pop, metal, hip hop, rave, trance) and also when it comes to the audiences aprreciation. in terms of quality pop peaked in the late 60's early/mid 70's maybe. its been stagnation or downhill since then and that has nothing to do with the internet. we just peaked - music, literature, films, painting - all forms of art are only the mirror of the society they are being created in. we peaked. pretty depressing isn't it?

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I agree with pretty much everything you said. You know the music industry is fucked up when you got a bunch of dudes (who aren't gay) talking about how excited they are for the next Lady Gaga single or album.

or mabye popular music just peaked? in the 90's in terms of creativity and diversity (grunge, trip hop, country, brit pop, metal, hip hop, rave, trance) and also when it comes to the audiences aprreciation. in terms of quality pop peaked in the late 60's early/mid 70's maybe. its been stagnation or downhill since then and that has nothing to do with the internet. we just peaked - music, literature, films, painting - all forms of art are only the mirror of the society they are being created in. we peaked. pretty depressing isn't it?

I believe it has a lot to do with the internet and cell phones. Also, mainstream music became so micromanaged by the corporations that it became stagnant. Over the past 15 years, Outkast and Radiohead are probably the only two big mainstream artists who've managed to evolve or consistenly change with each new album. I guess you could argue that Kanye belongs on that list, but I don't know his body of well enough to say.

It's funny though; TV, where you've got networks like HBO, AMC, and Showtime offering almost complete artistic freeedom, is thriving.

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That is something i've never understood, why do artist hate leaks so much? Because whenever they finally do release their music its ripped and upped online within 5 mins of its release. I have ALWAYS thought of leaks/demos as great promotion for artists. The thing I really dont understand about artists/record labels is that they have an amazing way of promoting music (THE INTERNET), but instead of using it as a promotional tool they talk about it as if it were a disease. Just like Dr.Dre, he doesnt release any information about detox the only way you hear about new tracks,release date..etc is through people who are close friends of dr.dre's or people who have worked on the album, sound familiar?

If what MSL posted about why Doc was fired was true, part of the big plan that Doc had was to leak a song online to promote a new gnr release. But Axl didn't like that idea. So I think that Axl has already treated much of the material he has just like Kanye and Jay-z did. Which from what we've heard about how secretive Axl has always been about recording it doesnt suprise me. I do think the only reason we got the demos from CD that we did was because of Fernando giving tracks to close circle friends of his, then they broke his trust all in the hopes of making a few bucks.

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That is something i've never understood, why do artist hate leaks so much?

Because we are getting music for FREE without paying a damn thing to the artist OR the label!! They HATE that shit!! The internet has basically made music free for anyone. Any song you can think of, any album....it's all out there and you never have to pay a red cent if you don't want to.

Their decades-long scam is up, and it burns them to see the people turning the tables on them! Most people paid for their favorite music at least twice....first on tapes and LPs and again on VERY over-priced compact discs. No more!! Now it's the people's turn to screw the record labels over.

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On a supposed Axl letter to Robin (from the MSL documents), Axl told Robin not to mind about the leaks, because it would be harmless to the album, and it was actually good promotion.

Something like that.

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