Downside to leaks: Hip-hop weekly

Posted by Jenna Postler

There is a sad, but undeniable truth within the music industry; music will be leaked. Unreleased songs make their way onto radio airwaves and, inevitably, into your iTunes library.

While it may seem awesome to have the new Diddy song a few months before the album comes out, lately leaking has gotten out of control. Every week new songs crop up all over the Internet, and most are of poor quality.

As a fan and avid consumer of music, I can understand why one might not want to wait weeks or months for his or her favorite artist's album to come out. Finding rough music by a new artist is always exciting, but at what cost?

For example, Kanye West's upcoming album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" is set to be released Nov. 22. Production on the album began in early 2010 and, as of present, most of the tracks have already hit the Internet. An early, unfinished version of the first single "Power" was leaked onto the Internet on May 28.

Having heard most of the album online already, is it even worth buying when it is officially released in November?

While some fans may appreciate having free sneak previews to songs, many still value the finished product, packaged and official. West commented on the track leaks via his Twitter account in late September.

"It would have seemed like since I give free music every week even the lowest form of human being would respect that enough not to leak unfinished songs from my real album," West tweeted.

Is this just the age that we live in, that society cannot wait for the real thing? Is this the cost of the Internet? Whatever it is, artists are getting angry that their art is not only being given away freely, but before it is even finished.

After a track from Dr. Dre's "Detox" album leaked this past year, Dre expressed his anger towards hackers, not fans. The album, which has been in the making for over a decade, has been hailed as the most anticipated album of all time in any genre. In August, Dre spoke to VIBE magazine about the leaks, "The most painful part about it is that I'm passionate about what I do so people should hear it in the right form.... Somebody actually hacked into our e-mails, so that made our red flags go up."

If anything can be learned from these leaks, it is that artists must be more careful about protecting their products. Most often, the work is accessed by breaks in technology.

The downside to leaks not only lies in compromised quality, but in the fact that the release dates of artists' albums are pushed back by record labels to prevent further leaks. Artists are forced to delay the release of their albums in order to record new, un-leaked material.

The best thing that we can do as consumers and music fans is to ignore these leaks. The wait for that new single may seem intolerable now, but we must have faith that the finished product will be worth it.

Jenna Postler is a sophomore from rural Vermont who knows what's hip (hop).

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