Crappy Leaks: WTF?

Portishead - ThirdPortishead’s new album Third leaked recently, and, like so many leaks before it, is pretty bad. I’ve only listened to a portion of it but the first track ends abruptly, and the whole thing is rumoured to be a transcode. Nevertheless it keeps getting posted to trackers.

I don’t get where these poor leaks come from in the first place. If someone has this CD at home you’d think they’d take care to rip it properly. Instead I imagine some guy in a back room at the label’s HQ, seated at a yellowed Pentium II with a CRT monitor, running Windows 98 and still used for mailing lists and spreadsheets, fluorescent-lit and surrounded by boxes and manila folders, ripping at 128kbps so that it can encode before he’s caught, then throwing the whole thing on a thumbdrive through the machine’s single USB 1.1 port. Still, why not rip straight to WAV and encode at home? Is it seriously the limitations of USB 1.1?, or is my imagination getting too specific? These are not rhetorical questions, and I’m not complaining, I’m just confused. That said, I want and expect to like this album, so I’m just gonna wait for the proper physical release date of April 29.

We’ve been using MP3s for like fifteen years now; shouldn’t this be foolproof?

Oh and in case you want it, it’s here.

6 Responses to “Crappy Leaks: WTF?”

  1. Jay says:

    Holy crap. That is both scary and awesome. I remember when I downloaded Happy Songs for Happy People in 2003 and it ended with what sounded like a looped recording of German children singing playground chants.

    Something tells me though that even if this isn’t a hoax, they’re probably not screwing with things like BMSR and Destroyer.

    Ha, now that I look, that Mogwai thing is even mentioned on Wikipedia. Ironic that the CD includes software intended for remixing the opening track yourself.

  2. Derek says:

    What was that one album that was leaked around this time last year that initially leaked backwards?

    I dunno, personally I think low-quality leaks are a good way of compelling people to go out and purchase the higher quality mediums as well as reducing the amount of discussion that could quite concievably deflate an album’s expectations before it is even released. I’d like to think that some albums can be redeemed by the authenticity of a hard-copy album. I’ve listened to this album a couple of times, it’s not bad but I look forward to getting a copy of it and just having the full sound engulf me.

  3. Jay says:

    Are you thinking of that Avey Tare / Kia Brekkan thing? That actually was released as reversed. I know that a lot of people, even knowing that, still preferred to hear it “forwards.” It’s become a weird relationship between musician and audience.

    I spend a lot of money on CDs, but I couldn’t possibly afford everything I have on my computer. Does that mean I just shouldn’t have the privilege of hearing it? I frequently go to shows to see bands whose albums I don’t legally own, shows I wouldn’t have gone to if I hadn’t stolen their music. Does that count for anything?

    Surely pirating is illegal, but is it always immoral? Or even bad for artists in all cases? I’m not trying to defend it, I have some serious qualms about it. But there is a large gray area.

  4. Derek says:

    Oh there are definitely gray areas. I think the emergence of the creative commons license is a very big step in getting a handle on the whole piracy issue.

    I was thinking about how neat it’d be if somebody started selling FLAC or similar high-bitrate discographies on external hard drives. It would reduce cost, as hard-copies of rare recordings are few and far between and the costs of obtaining them are enormous. Take for example a Bob Dylan or Bob Marley discography, upload it to the the hard drive and price it according to some established guideline (per song, per album,etc.) rather then on the rarity of a particular album and tack on the cost of the hard drive. Sure it’d be priced at a couple of hundred dollars for the larger discographies out there (could even be used for a label’s entire catalogue) but it’d still be cheaper then paying 10,20,30 and up for an album. 

    As far as implementation, I figured proceeds made minus the hard drives and acquiring full discogs would be simply donated to charity of the artist’s choosing. Like it doesn’t make any sense to me that people, families, are profiting from a dead man’s glory. I would rather pay for an album knowing it wasn’t going to simply add to a relatives coffers and I’m sure a lot of the established artists have some connection to charity, even if it’s only for tax purposes. For label catalogues, it could simply be used to pay for recording costs and wages of bands/groups represented under the labels.

    It’s still just an idea, but it definitely is something that, given enough guidance, could work. I don’t know all of the legal aspects of it, most of the problems would be related to getting the distribution companies to sign off on it, but that could….maybe be offset by a slow project development until it caught on and they’d only be forced to adopt it as part of their distribution options.

    I’d like to see the numbers for show turnouts over the last decade, to see if they’ve gone up or gone down. 

    The whole piracy issue comes down to big recording companies investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into relatively unknown acts that don’t, as a result, have very strong followings. They’re basically banks for musicians, and the musicians have to pay it back by selling records. When that fails cause people realize the rest of the album stinks through piracy and the bands are basically glorified one-hit wonders, then the companies lose money. If the quality of commercially-backed music was re-established through sensible backing of artists, not the lump-sum loans and high recording costs associated with new artists. If a group is capable of putting on good live shows and they’ve become recognized for the performance, rather than the current standard of “sound”, the industry would bounce back because people, for the most part, can show their appreciation by attending shows and buying records.

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