Fun With Major Labels: Leaks, Lies, And Packaging Screw-Ups

noah | September 18, 2007 6:20 am
Usually the most rewarding installments of the crabby-boomer music industry newsletter the Lefsetz Letter are the ones that list proprietor Bob Lefsetz devotes to reader mail; yesterday he sent out a really, really long edition of his mailbag, and reading it all the way through was pretty rewarding if only because of the missive from the producer James Sanger, who produced and co-wrote Siobhan Donaghy’s incredible album Ghosts. (The Inland Empire-inspired video for Donaghy’s “So You Say” is above.) Sanger’s e-mail was quite informative, if only because I learned that artists who put out albums that I like aren’t as immune from UK label dumbassery as I thought they might be:

… I’ve watched from the sidelines helplessly while EMI / Parlophone completely fucked the act I put two years into my life developing ‘Siobhan Donaghy’…. when It was finally released I could have sold more records then they did out the back of my car at the markets…it was out on lime-wire 6 months before release and even though everyone wanted it, no one could get it, the physical release and digital releases were a week apart and a third of the CD boxes had the wrong CD in them.. some old jazz record from the 70’s

All the time the ‘UM and Argh’ man was out at my studio in france talking about how great the album is and how huge it will be…… it turns out they were in secret talks with Terra Firma to jump ship and sell up…….

“Some old jazz record from the ’70s”? Aieee. And he’s right about the album leaking; I first posted about wanting Ghosts to come out over here back in April, and was promptly rewarded with a Rapidshare link from a reader; the album wasn’t set to be released for a good two and a half months after that, at which time it debuted on the UK album charts at No. 92. And then it sank like a stone.

On the bright side, I’m sure that this story is thrilling Terra Firma, the company that now owns EMI; CEO Guy Hands recently said that his company was “just hoping EMI is as bad as [they] think it is” so that it could really, really right the label’s ship–and even “care for every artist.” Well, you know, they may want to start rooting out the problems in their packaging department first.

Lefsetz Letter [lefsetz.com]Siobhan Donaghy – So You Say [YouTube]