Wilco Encourages Fans To Get Their Leak On

Apr 11th, 2007 // 13 Comments

wilcoscreamin.jpegA few weeks ago, we made the argument that pre-release leaks do more good than harm (our working theory, in summary, is that the benefits of building excitement among fans outweighs the fact that some of them may not buy them album upon its official release). And it looks like Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche agrees with us–sort of.

From an interview with Australia’s X-Press Online:

The album streamed on the web. Does it concern you that people will end up with copies of the album months before it is officially released?

Not at all. That is how things are going to be. If people are that excited about it that they are going to get the software, figure out how to record it and trade it amongst themselves then I think that is great, they are enthusiastic about it.

I have said it before, it’s absolutely true… I have met countless people at shows who have confessed that they have downloaded our records illegally – or burned copies instead of buying it – and then you see them at a show and they have bought tickets to the show and they are going to buy the older records or t-shirts or whatever. They are supporting the band and for me – and for all of us – it is way more important for the music to be heard than for us to get a little money off of every CD. The reason we make it is for people to enjoy it and for people to relate to it, so that doesn’t bother me at all. I think that people who resist that are kidding themselves and that is the way that it is going to be in the future.

It’s nice to hear a band embrace the technology and not kick against it or fear it.

It is not even the technology for me. You make music, you want people to hear it, you know? If they can’t afford it and want to check it out, I don’t care if they buy it or not.

Granted, Wilco is is a thirteen-year-old band with six albums, a documentary and a giant touring fanbase, so it makes sense that Kotche isn’t going to sweat it if some kid in Pittsburgh rips a copy of Sky Blue Sky and never winds up paying for it. But at least he recognizes that the main reason people scour torrent sites and ping around YouSendIt files for an advance album is because they actually want to hear the music, not because they want to hustle CDRs down at the Fulton Mall. And even though Sky is pretty much everywhere at this point, we’re pretty certain it will have a nice first-week debut. Heck, we might even buy a copy. Well, probably not. But maybe!

WILCO’S GLENN KOTCHE Drummerteeth [X-Press Online]

  1. Ted Striker

    I don’t think that they’re making the argument that you get more sales from a leaked album. A leaked album could mean another concet ticket or two sold, plus merch and cds bought at the show. I’ve certainly found out about bands that way in the past.

  2. MC

    Surely, you can’t be serious.

  3. NickEddy

    That picture of the band in their super-real thrift togs puts the hurt in “shirt.”

    “Summerteeth” was good, though!

  4. MC

    Get lost lo-fi nerd!

  5. revmatty

    Here’s my thing about downloading albums pre-release: The album is done. It’s pressed and shipped. I’m impatient. I’ll buy it when it comes out, but I don’t want to wait for some arbitrary “official release date” bullshit. Hell, half the time I’ve already pre-ordered the album. Give me instant gratification or give me death!

  6. AndrewTaylor

    When people talk about the huge downticks in record sales, I assume they just mean the big labels with the big acts, right? I’m only one person, but my CD buying has increased many times over in the last several years thanks to my constant “discoveries” of bands through Internet “sampling.” But about 95 percent of those purchases go to smaller labels. Is it really that sales have gone down THAT MUCH or are we just seeing the standard deviation between Billboard burners and the MySpace stars shrink?

  7. Ted Striker

    Of course I’m serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

  8. Faster

    @AndrewTaylor: Right on, AT. I’m at an all time high on music buying thanks to mp3′s floating around on the internet and exposing me to more music than the same 10 songs terrestial (sp) radio played when I was growing up. I’m sure I’m not in a target demo, since I am *gasp*, over 30 and I buy at least 10-15 CD’s a month. The RIAA’s whining and label groaning makes me laugh. One of the biggest grossing acts in music history barely made 5% of their gross from album sales and they supported an entire corporation of people: The Grateful Dead. They *encouraged* their fans to tape and trade. They made money by working for it – touring. Building a real fanbase and constantly interacting with them. Expanding their brand and producing huge lines of merch that their loyal fanbase bought year after year and continues to buy after the band’s demise. Wilco gets the formula.

  9. theSchwa

    I feel like there is a huge difference between a leaked “album” and a few leaked tracks. Obviously if you have downloaded the whole album you are less likely to buy it, but if you have just gotten a couple of tracks on free mp3s (like most of the leaks posted here) aren’t you MORE likely to want to get the album if you like it?

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