Hide Your MP3s: There’s A New Sheriff In Town

Apr 11th, 2007 // 10 Comments

Last Wednesday, we posted some MP3s from the forthcoming Dinosaur Jr. album–including one that had been taken down from Faronheit after a comment from the Web Sheriff, only to be reposted on Pitchfork a few days later. Today, we got our first visit from the Sheriff, and he (she? it?) was kind enough to leave us a comment:

DJ’s label (Fat Possum) have allowed fans and bloggers to Almost Ready and Been There All The Time as promotional tracks and to give fans a flavour of the new album … .. other tracks are, not unnaturally, being held back to release (the Pitchfork track being a special, temporary arrangement) … .. hence some tracks being allowed and other not … … this is common practise amongst indie labels these days and we hope this answers your (and your readers) question.

In the circumstances, therefore, we’re also obliged to ask you to remove your copy of We’re Not Alone.

Well, first of all: Fine. We were taking “We’re Not Alone” and the other Dinosaur Jr. MP3s down today anyway–we only keep most MP3s up for a week (an exception can be found here). But are we crazy for thinking it odd that an MP3, with no protection on it, can only be downloaded from one site–after all, if you’re letting an unprotected audio file out in the wild, even for a limited time, shouldn’t you expect it to thrive? Wouldn’t that file not thriving be more worrisome to the people charged with promoting the band’s music? (And wouldn’t you want people who, say, don’t read Pitchfork–and yes, they do exist–to maybe get exposed to the record as well?)

Anyway, we don’t want to call shenanigans or anything; we just want to point out, like we did last week, that the idea of the “exclusive download” sounds sort of like the “MTV Exclusive” touting of the old days, except not really, because it’s a lot easier to redistribute an MP3 than it was to redistribute a video in the pre-YouTube era, and because the idea of an “exclusive MP3″ is somewhat oxymoronic. Did we say “somewhat”? We meant absolutely.

Earlier: Leak Of The Day, Part III: Dinosaur Jr Is Definitely Ready For A Comeback

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  1. futurewomen

    Worse than the “exclusive mp3″, I feel, is that some bloggers are now taking it upon themselves to include their blognames/links/whatever inside the ID3 tags of songs they post. Even P4k has been doing it.

    It drives me bat-shit crazy.

    These bloggers have absolutely NOTHING to do with the creation of the song. Tagging a vinyl rip, or a live show they recorded themselves, is okay by me – they did some work. Give credit where credit is due.

    But inserting your blog name into the “Info” section of a song’s tag, because you grabbed a leaked album first, is just plain retarded.

    Anyone else notice this? Am I the only person it bothers?

  2. Prefixmag

    I love it how labels complain that Pitchfork has too much influence and yet they grant exclusive MP3s to them while other sites receive legal threats from the web sheriff.

  3. Catbirdseat

    That’s because sometime in the past year or two, most of the mp3bloggers decided it was time to stop using their blogs to promote the artists, and decided it was high time to start using the artists to promote their blogs.

  4. behemoth01

    “The idea of an “exclusive MP3″ is somewhat oxymoronic. Did we say “somewhat”? We meant absolutely.”
    Isn’t this just playing into labels hands? Most music executives would have you believe that release something on MP3, and it will spread like wildfire over the p2p sites. They use this as justification to DRM us up to the ears.
    The reality is that some stuff will spread, if it’s good (or really bad), and most, to be honest, won’t.

  5. Mike

    @Kebove: “They’re really stepping beyond their limits.”

    I think the problem is there are no limits and blogs are only just beginning to understand that scare tactics aren’t a great tactic in the long run. I expect this to come just about the time bloggers establish that web sheriff is being paid by the same labels that send us hundreds of emails to us begging for coverage.

    And although mp3 blogs absolutely loved t’Monkeys and Mr Rascal I think they would have found fame just as quickly without – but they’ve certainly helped them target the U.S market a lot easier.

    @catbird

    Right on – I think it began when something that was really fun, useful, exciting, innovative and forward thinking suddenly starting spewing money out…

  6. Jfrankparnell

    Pitchfork is almost certainly paid by labels to post mp3s (that they approve of, first, of course). That’s why the labels (or Pitchfork …?) protect the mp3s from appearing elsewhere. Although paid-for mp3s are common on retail sites, the practice itself is laughable, because such mp3s are rarely ‘exclusive.’ Funnier still that Pitchfork labels anything ‘exclusive’ – just yesterday they announced the band Illinois is opening for the Hold Steady, but blogs and even the Illinois site had this ‘exclusive’ out and about weeks ago.

    I suppose, though, it is feasible to consider that when your site has millions of readers a month, like prawnfork, stealing news from lower profile outlets, and hyping it, is the same thing as CNN etc do with the AP or Reuters.

    Fat Possum now has a distro deal with Red, which is really Sony. That’s where retailers send bills for Red (like they do to EMI for Caroline, Warners for ADA). Happy for FP to finally make $, but we can no longer mistake them for the kids who briefly kept T-Model Ford alive and drunk. They need to change their motto.

    And anyway, Beyond sucks but for the two tracks Lou Barlow sings.

  7. BawstonSean

    @DanGibson:

    Damn straight. Fat Possum are – hmmmmmm – TOTALLY OUT OF LINE given their alleged artist-royalty shennanigans. But I’ve heard enough horror stories from Oxford that I’m not at all surprised.


    By the way, does anybody think they (Web Sheriff, RIAA, the dipshits with law degrees that don’t know their asshole from an Animals record) would attack a record store blog for posting pre-release tracks in conjuction with a retail pre-order promotion? I think there are are enough loopholes to cover my ass, but dealing with the music industry is like dealing with a bunch of drunk rednecks – they’re both so fucking dumb, you know shit is gonna go down…

  8. HotstuffFiles

    @Futurewoman

    I know. It drives me ape-shit. And surely, in this world of sue-sue-sue – it is just the easiest way for the copy to get back to you…

  9. Maura Johnston

    @behemoth01: We’re talking about an exclusive promotional MP3 that’s distributed from one source only–don’t you think that it’s silly? Have an exclusive stream, fine, but the idea of an MP3 only being downloadable from one site is sort of ludicrous

  10. WEBSHERIFFOFFICIAL

    Web Sheriff
    Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
    Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013 / Fax 44-(0)208-323 8080
    websheriff@websheriff.com http://www.websheriff.com

    Hi-There,

    In view of the dialogue in this thread, we thought it best for Idolator readers that we clarify one or two points as follows :-

    1. We’d like to point-out that, when we carry-out a pre-release campaign, we treat commercial pirates (eg. all of the notorious, Russian pay sites etc etc) totally differently to fans and bloggers and, in fact, we regularly advise clients to allow promo tracks to be freely circulated by fans and music lovers in the run-up to release. This promotes the album whilst, at the same time, allowing fans to enjoy some of the tracks in the run-up to release and, moreover, doesn’t penalise them for their enthusiasm.

    2. For your info, Web Sheriff is not in any way anti-bloggers or specifically directed at bloggers … .. we cover all aspects of internet ‘piracy’ / on-line rights protection … .. from torrent sites and p2p to eBay and much more … .. and including closing down sites promoting criminal activity in relation to a murder trial and closing down extremist sites showing videos of the beheadings of poor Eugene Armstrong and Ken Bigley (RIP).

    3. Last, but not least, we’d add that, at the end of the day, the decision as to whether or not to allow free music is up to the artists and their labels – on a case by case basis – as it’s THEIR MUSIC !! If they’re cool with giving it away then great and the decision is theirs but, by the same token, if they’re not happy about losing their income / royalties, then that’s THEIR CHOICE too.

    Anyway, we hope that the above has provided some insight into this issue for Idolator readers.

    All The Best,

    WEB SHERIFF TEAM

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