U2′s No Line On The Horizon leaked early Wednesday morning, a week and a half before it was supposed to be available in Irish record shops and nearly two weeks before its Stateside release. Horizon, being one of the few albums on the docket that is seen as something of a commercial lock, was under heavy lock and key before its release. So what happened? Was Bono blaring his own tunes at home again? Did some enterprising warehouse worker sneak a copy to his laptop? The answer is a lot more surprising—and much more embarrassing for Universal Music Group, which is counting on this album’s sales to beef up its bottom line.
The album – U2′s 12th – goes on sale on March 3 but it was available to download for a brief period this week on getmusic.com.au, run by Universal Music Australia.
The U2 fan blog, U2log.com, published a screenshot showing it had bought the album for $19.80.
Now, No Line On The Horizon is widely available on BitTorrent and other file sharing websites.
Universal Music Australia did not respond to calls asking how the track went up for sale early.
It is not clear if the leak to illegal download sites was a result of this error, however, it is the likely explanation as U2 has kept the album under wraps and reportedly sent no preview copies to the press, instead organising private hearings.
Scores of fans – both in Australia and overseas – have posted on unofficial U2 message boards saying they bought the album from getmusic.com.au during the period it was available.
And from there, the MP3s did flow. Anyway, condolences in advance (or not, since it’s already Friday night Down Under) to the person who is probably getting fired over this glitch. And those of you who don’t want to engage in shady downloading might be happy to know that the album is streaming from U2′s MySpace page, although it’s not immediately apparent (you have to click on the No Line album cover on the left-hand side of the player to get to its 12 tracks).