Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Despite pumping squillions of pounds into the "security measures", EMI will be hopping mad this morning as Coldplay's new album X&Y is already swooping round the filesharing networks.

The security was as ill-considered as it was ineffectual:

The British Phonographic Industry praised EMI for its efforts to stop the pre-release piracy of X&Y. Review copies of the CD went under a false name - the Fir Trees - and were personally handed to the media by EMI representatives.

Reviewers were compelled to sign a legally binding non-disclosure document. Employees at CD pressing plants were routinely searched, while fan sites claimed the company prevented a student radio station in California playing the album before release.

The band tried to persuade impatient fans to wait for the official European release on June 6 by offering them the chance to listen to the album on the official website.

So, once again journalists were treated as if they couldn't be trusted, employees at the plant were "routinely searched" (under what right does EMI presume the guilt of its workforce?) - while all along the tracks were dancing out of a website which would only take an audioripping program to grab. It's like that episode of the Simpsons where Burns and Smithers go through this elaborate security gating to get to a secret room, only to find someone's left the back door open for the cat.

But it gets worse:

The album is released in Japan today, a situation that was always expected to lead to a flurry of illegal offerings on the internet.

So, having meticulously sealed some of the routes for illegal copies leeching onto the web before the release date, EMI then go and stagger releases so there's going to be legitimate copies available in part of the world anyway.

EMI would not comment on its anti-piracy measures or how it would pursue the "uploaders" responsible for illegally putting it on the net, but the company said it not believe sales would be hit by the leak.

"We've had an amazing success with stopping the leaking," a spokeswoman said. "It is a testament to the pre-release protection we put in place to have an album of this profile kept secure until a day before its commercial release [in Japan]. No other album has come that close to commercial release before it has become available."

So, erm, the campaign has been "a success with stopping the leaking" even though the leaking wasn't stopped. Thank god the spokesperson went into music industry PR rather than medicine - "excellent news Mrs Jones; the attempts to stem the bleeding have been a total success. Although your husband did still bleed to death, it took quite a while before the last of the blood drained from his body. Unfortunately, he didn't recoup his kidneys."

Still, there is an important message here: EMI don't believe that the album being avalilable on the file sharing networks will harm sales. It's nice to finally get a major label admit that, yes, the presence of an album on the networks doesn't cost us any lost sales - in that sense, it's quite a historic day, isn't it?

[Updated 23/08/08 to add tags; content unchanged]