How a Record Gets Leaked

Here’s an infographic explaining how a record gets leaked from a Spin article titled Days of the Leak:

Preview image of “How a Record Gets Leaked”
Click the image to see it at full size.

According to the infographic, there are a number of opportunities for an album to make it into the public’s hands between its completion and release:

  • At the studio: 4 months before release — As soon as a record is finished, anyone from the producer to the engineer to the band members can spoil the fun.
  • At the label: 3 1/2 months before release — Labels send albums to companies like Sonic Arts to add a digital encryption code that can identify evildoers…but not necessarily stop them.
  • By the press: 3 months before release — Considered to be the most common source of album leakage, watermarks or not. Oops!
  • At the plant: 1 month before release — While in the process of being manufactured, a CD is ostensibly secured under lock and key, but sometimes copies fall off the back of trucks.
  • At the warehouse: 2 weeks before release — Once CDs await shipping to retailers, it’s virtually guaranteed that a copy will find its way online.
  • At retail: And of course, once an album is for sale online and in stores, all bets are off.

If Radio is Bad for Music, Why Has Payola Existed All These Years?

Yellow 60’s-era transistor radio

A Brief History of Payola

Alan FreedSee the gentleman on the left? That’s Alan Freed, the “Father of Rock and Roll”. As a radio DJ and music television show host in the 50’s, he popularized the term “Rock and Roll”, turning it from an obscure euphemism for sex into a household phrase for a music genre. He helped break the color barrier in music, introducing America to acts like Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

His career and reputation were destroyed in the (painfully-named) Payola scandal, in which he accepted bribes from record companies to give their records more airplay. Dick Clark’s career was almost destroyed as well, but by cooperating with the authorities and selling off his share of a record company, he was able to have the charges against him reduced to a slap on the wrist.

(Freed, unable to find much work in the wake of the scandal, turned to alcohol and died of cirrhosis in 1965.)

Payola still exists today, thanks to a legal loophole. Rather than going directly to radio stations, record companies hire “indies” (independent promoters, not independent labels) to promote their albums — and by promote, I mean “provide payment as inducement to play their albums”. For more on the relationships between record companies, indies and radio stations, see this How Stuff Works article.

Radio: Bad for the Recording Industry?

Here’s a report from Techdirt earlier today:

Remember a few months back when the RIAA started asking the government to get radio stations to pay up for promoting their music? This seemed pretty ludicrous (especially when you add in the fact that record labels for years have paid radio stations via payola to get them to play their music in the first place). Well, the group organized by the RIAA to push this plan has found a professor to publish a study saying that radio actually makes people buy less music. This way, they can claim that radio actually is not a promotional medium for music.

Techdirt asks the question and I repeat it: If radio is bad for music as the RIAA says, why have record companies been bribing radio stations all these years?


Guitar vs. “Guitar Hero”

Guitar Hero comic
Click to see the comic on its original page.

Trust me, kids: learn to play a musical instrument reasonably well before college.

As for accordion playing, the “coolness graph” looks like this:

Accordion coolness chart


Anime Video of “Code Monkey”

The machinima videos that people have made for Jonathan Coulton’s geek anthem Code Monkey haven’t impressed me; unlike the Red vs. Blue series of animations, the visuals feel poorly matched with the storyline.

Better by far is this video, which does an excellent job of repurposing clips from the Japanese animated TV series Black Heaven. If you watch only one fan-made video of Code Monkey, watch this one:

[via Amber Mac]


johnnyOnline: “Love Two Point Oh”

Jonathan Coulton’s Code Monkey was the catchy nerd-friendly rock tune of last year. This year, the crown could very well be johnnyOnline’s Love Two Point Oh, which features lyrics like:

You’re prettier than fine CSS
You’re finer than

as well as the “09 F9…” HD-DVD code as whispered backing vocals.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:


July 17th: Guitar Hero Encore Rocks the 80s

Guitar Hero 2 Rocks the 80s

I was 12 when the 80’s began and 22 when they ended, so the music of that decade is pretty much seared into my consciousness. Hence my jumping for joy when I found out that a new Guitar Hero game featuring 80s rock is due on July 17th. Here are the tracks known to be included with the game:

  • Asia – Heat of the Moment
  • Billy Squier – Lonely Is the Night
  • Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy
  • Dio – Holy Diver
  • Eddie Money – Shakin’
  • Extreme – Play With Me
  • Faster Pussycat – Bathroom Wall
  • Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
  • Poison – Nothin’ But A Good Time
  • Police – Synchronicity II
  • Quiet Riot – Bang Your Head (Metal Health)
  • Ratt – Round & Round
  • Skid Row – 18 And Life
  • Twisted Sister – I Wanna Rock

As far as I can tell, it’s a PlayStation 2 exclusive. Since I am the owner of a PS2 (a Christmas present from my lovely and very understanding wife), I am left with one complaint: Where the Hell is the AC/DC?!

Party at my house on July 17th!


iPod Amnesty Bin at Zune Headquarters

Microsoft may not always crank out the best products, but I will have to hand it to them: they certainly can tell jokes. The best part of any Microsoft keynote is the spoof video — consider their parody of VW’s “Da Da Da” tv spot, their Matrix spoof and the “Bill Meets Napoleon Dynamite” clip. If their stuff worked as well as their spoofs, my Vista laptop wouldn’t be relegated to second-banana duty.

Rex “Fimoculous” Sorgatz recently experienced some Microsoft self-promo humour when paying a visit to Zune headquarters. Here’s what he saw near the entrance: an iPod amnesty bin:

“iPod Amnesty Bin” at Zune headquarters
Click to see the photo on its original page.

The Mac fanboy/fangirl reaction seems to have largely been one of amusement, and as one commenter on The Unofficial Apple Weblog puts it, the Zune Amesty Bin is the store shelves.