MGMT Album Leaks… Band Wants To Give Official Version For Free, But Denied

from the so-much-for-that dept

It’s pretty common these days for musical releases from big name bands to leak early, followed by the band pushing up the release date. In the latest such case (sent in by reader Matthew), the band MGMT had its latest album leaked early, and then responded by putting up a free streaming version of the entire album. They’re not the first band to do this, but what’s interesting is the note on the band’s website, where they claim they wanted to actually make the whole thing downloadable, but were told that wasn’t allowed:


Hey everybody, the album leaked, and we wanted you to be able to hear it from us. We wanted to offer it as a free download but that didn’t make sense to anyone but us

Well, actually, it makes sense to lots of us, but we’re not running Sony Music. It’s great that the band was able to put out a streaming version, and doesn’t seem to mind that the album itself leaked, but not putting up an official downloadable version means that people will still be getting the unofficial version, and MGMT and Sony miss out on an opportunity to actually connect with the fans (such as by asking for an email address or giving people additional reasons to buy as they download).

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Companies: sony music

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Comments on “MGMT Album Leaks… Band Wants To Give Official Version For Free, But Denied”

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39 Comments
Drewshannonsays:

Mike,
I love all your pieces, and generally agree with you, but not here. Sony most likely paid for the recording, production, and marketing for the album. Why on earth would they give it away for free? I’m all for bands giving away their music (I think the days of recorded music being the final product are numbered), especially independent artists as a way to boost ticket sales, merch, premium physical products, etc., but in this situation, it makes absolutely no sense.

Anonymoussays:

Re:

My view is that anyone who wants to can already download it. It can only help build goodwill and fan loyalty (and allow them to choose what marketing gets displayed next to the download link) if they offer an official free download.

They can always put up a “pay what you think it’s worth” button for people who want to contribute back and a pre-order link for people who want the album art.

Re:

I love all your pieces, and generally agree with you, but not here. Sony most likely paid for the recording, production, and marketing for the album. Why on earth would they give it away for free?

Because it already is free. So why not try to take advantage of that to actually make some money by embracing it and feeding it into a real business model?

I’m all for bands giving away their music (I think the days of recorded music being the final product are numbered), especially independent artists as a way to boost ticket sales, merch, premium physical products, etc., but in this situation, it makes absolutely no sense.

Why not?!? The music is already free. Not embracing it means people go elsewhere. Embracing it means a chance to earn money.

Why would Sony purposely drive fans to download elsewhere?

Drewshannonsays:

Re: Re:

“Because it already is free. So why not try to take advantage of that to actually make some money by embracing it and feeding it into a real business model?”

But by this logic, why should bands bother trying to sell their music at all? I think you could make that argument for any album out there today.

If I were the band / label, I would put up a cheap digital download today (or pay-what-you-want). Give the fans a simple, easy, quick way to pay for the music (digitally, or up-sell for a premium package), and I think you’d be surprised at how many pitch in.

Drewshannonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, in general, I think those days are numbered. However, the major labels will continue to base their business models, wrong or right, on selling music, until their dying breath.

If MGMT were an independent or unsigned band, I would tell them to put it up for free download in a heartbeat. As other people have mentioned, it could be a good idea have the fans submit an email address for the album (or half the album), and build the email list. Then you can reach out to them later and upsell to a higher price point or tell them about tour dates.

HOWEVER, I don’t think Sony would never and will never do that as long as they are a major record company. As far as I know, MGMT doesn’t have a 360 deal with Sony, and thus, Sony is making no money off of the band’s ticket sales and merch sales, only recorded music. Until that changes, they will want to sell as much music as possible.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

“HOWEVER, I don’t think Sony would never and will never do that as long as they are a major record company.”

That’s their decision. They’re wrong, and will pay the consequences in the long term, but it’s their right to do so.

“As far as I know, MGMT doesn’t have a 360 deal with Sony, and thus, Sony is making no money off of the band’s ticket sales and merch sales, only recorded music.”

Again, that’s their problem. If they signed a deal with the band that only gives them access to a small and shrinking section of the potential market, and they inevitably lose money because of it, they deserve to pay the consequences for following a business model that’s going the way of the dinosaur. They’ve had over a decade since Napster to build a business model for the 21st century, and haven’t bothered to do so.

“Until that changes, they will want to sell as much music as possible.”

Indeed. But what they want to happen and what will actually happen may well be two completely different things.

Solohan50says:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

I can’t believe I’m going to side with Sony in this comment, but it sounds like Sony is making the only decision that they can make with their current arrangement with MGMT. This isn’t to say that Sony’s reliance on CD sales is a smart thing, but at this point in time it’s the reality of their situation.

If Sony does not have a 360 deal with MGMT then they will only make money on album sales. If that’s the case, then even if releasing the album for free did boost sales of other scarce goods that MGMT has to offer, Sony doesn’t see any money from that. Sony has stuck themselves with one good to sell, which is albums. While betting everything on CD sales is not a smart business decision, it’s what they’re stuck with with MGMT, so they have to make the decision based on what makes sense with their current situation.

David Tsays:

It's just sillyness

These kind of restrictions are put in place be people who are still clueless about how consumers consume their product.

It’s like the stupid restrictions on skipping songs in Pandora when you can just hop to Youtube and listen to whatever you like as you like.

Sooner or later the fuddyduddies are going to all pass on and digital arts will be free (and used as advertising).

Artists vs. Publishers

What is interesting about stories like this is that it turns the talking points used by publishers on their heads. They argue that music piracy is primarily hurting the artists who are actually creating value. However we keep seeing artists who want to take advantage of a new model and the publishers prevent them from making decisions about their own music.

Right now the band is getting nothing from the downloaded music. What Mike is saying is that by offering an official free download they can get emails and contact information from their fans in order to get them to shows, purchase merch, or even offer limited content to those who downloaded through the site.

Wishing file sharing away isn’t going to work, and publishers like Sony are preventing artists from adapting to a 21st century digital economy.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Artists vs. Publishers

Well, filesharing won’t go away with that kind of attitude. Thankfully ACTA will turn the internet into a broadcasting medium that can be controlled by a few gatekeepers and less like it is now, being a communications medium, controlled by all of its users.

I can see why the legacy industries are pushing so hard for ACTA and secrecy.

Anonymoussays:

“Why not?!? The music is already free. Not embracing it means people go elsewhere. Embracing it means a chance to earn money.”

You assume that everyone who downloads the music is a pirate and will illegally download it. This is simply not the case. Also, do you honestly think a few email addresses are worth the bandwidth and support it costs to host an an entire album?

Just when I’m trying to think of a position stupider than Mike’s constant diaper-filling because movie theaters aren’t offering DVDs at the ticket window, in case anyone would rather not go into the big dark room with all those strangers after driving to the theater, along he comes with his cheerful burbling that “music is free,” obviously thinking he’s quite the savant.

Many years ago, before the music biz cause was finally, irretrievably lost, some punk on a forum was talking about seeing some band opening at a show and how he was downloading everything they had online. I told him what the singer from Sevendust said about downloading, “At the end of the year, if our album didn’t scan [SoundScan] enough copies, I’m back flipping burgers at McDonald’s.” The little brat didn’t reply, but I’m starting to think he aged to become Mike.

Re:

Many years ago, before the music biz cause was finally, irretrievably lost

Odd, multiple studies show the music industry has been growing both in terms of output and money. “Lost” seems to be defined differently in your book.

I told him what the singer from Sevendust said about downloading, “At the end of the year, if our album didn’t scan [SoundScan] enough copies, I’m back flipping burgers at McDonald’s.” The little brat didn’t reply, but I’m starting to think he aged to become Mike.

Ah, so you spoke to one idiot who didn’t have a good business model, and because of that you want to condemn me for pointing people to business models that work?

You have a really screwed up way of thinking.

The Mad (Patent) Prosecutorsays:

“Hey everybody, the album leaked, and we wanted you to be able to hear it from us. We wanted to offer it as a free download but that didn’t make sense to anyone but us “

Oh really? Hmmmm, so the band can’t understand: the band gets their advance from Sony, Sony intends to make back the advance through music sales, and Sony has no confidence that giving away something will help sales? Regardless of whether the band agrees with Sony’s (intermediate) conclusions, Sony logic can be understood even by a “moron-in-a-hurry.”

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