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)
Ironically, 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.
Was New U2 Album Hitting P-2-P Networks on Purpose?
Jerry Del Colliano
Audio Video Revolution, November 9, 2004
Cracking The Case Of The Stolen U2 CD
ChartAttack, Tuesday July 27, 2004 @ 03:00 PM