Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Like A Criminal - The GNR Leaker Wants You (to Pay his Lawyer)

THE BEAT GOES ON: By now you know that Chinese Democracy, the GNR album more than a decade in the making, is very much real. And other than a few high points - it's a just a good album ( - and really, little more.) If you recall, 9 of the 14 songs from the album were leaked online by and all hell broke loose... (We wrote about it and snagged an unmastered copy of Chinese Democracy online long before the record was released in stores. Then we went out and bought one later for review purposes...) Well, the legal battle (on both criminal and civil side) continues - and due to the album's completely mediocre sales; coupled with the record's insane $13M price tag.... You better bet Axl Rose and company are going to get their pound of flesh on this one. The Defendent Kevin "Skwerl" Cogill (aka Mr. Album Leaker) has hired an attorney and is now asking the public for donations to help him pay for his legal costs.

LEAKERS RUIN IT FOR ALL OF US: I've made it clear I'm no Axl fan, but I think the band has a bone to pick on this one. Album leakers stink!

Leakers ruin it for the musicians (stealing from the people they claim to love. These artists often suffer a double-hit once their material is leaked, since the leak can appear premastered. It doesn't represent the final product - which is already financially spoiled.)

Album leakers hurt the industry (this much you probably already knew...) Dwell on this for a second: It's true that the record industry is an inefficient, wasteful dinosaur - very slow to adapt and change. This is its weakness. But it is established and sewn up with business dudes in expensive suits who don't really know much about music. This, of course, makes the music industry ridiculously impractical. (But oddly enough, when it comes to survival-mode, having a bunch of attorneys and accountants around can be an area of strength.) If people steal albums and give them away to the public, the business loses money and they predictably respond by cutting corners and raising prices (just like any other business.) Things get worse instead of better for all of us when the industry posts losses... Less money goes to new music projects. The labels stop taking chances on new artists. Prices go up... Think about it.

Leakers also give great music and entertainment blogs like this one a bad name. The bottom line is that it's not cool to leak albums.

Listening to Leaked Music: If you get leaked pre-release material, consider yourself lucky. Listen to it. If you do like it, go out and buy the album and support the artist you are listening to. Give your business to the people whose who your like.

Closing Thoughts: Now that I said all this, I don't want this guy to get completely nailed to the wall - but what he did definitely wasn't right. He gave away somebody's creative work for nothing. He sabotaged the project. He shit on the pie. And, he got caught. We will continue to monitor this one since it's near and dear - and because the outcome could end up changing the way you get your music and how much it costs. And, let's face it: it's also very entertaining to see what the hell that unpredictable fucker Axl Rose will do next.


Anonymous said...

You suck. So you get tons of music for free for writing a blog that suck's the industry's ass, don't ruin it for the rest of us

Ryan said...

I literally spend thousands of hours every year writing about exciting new music and supporting (primarily) up-and-coming artists - for no pay whatsoever...

I write a piece critical of someone leaking an entire album (a leaker who ironically wants others to pay his legal bills) and you complain that I'm "ruining it" for you? How? Please explain.


I printed this ridiculous comment because it perfectly illustrates the complete ignorance of some "fans," who - when it gets right down to it - could really give a shit about music and only really care about themselves.

How would any of you like it if your paycheck was cut in half next week, without warning... Or not there at all? That's what this is about.

Mack Arillo said...

A couple of points...

He didn't leak the whole album. He leaked 9 of the 14 songs.

If it wasn't for Kevin's leak, which lit a fire under Axl and UMG's ass, we still would not have heard the finished album. Did you know that Axl Rose hemmed and hawed for 14 years, dangling release dates in front of fans noses and hyping the disc to the press and the world, without any real intention to release it?

Kevin's leak differs from a traditional album leak, like say for Relapse or 21st Century Breakdown, where an album leaks days before it shows up in stores.

Chinese Democracy was dead in the water, and this leak forced the label's hand.

Just my 2 cent.


Ryan said...

Mack's right - at least in part. (Thanks for refreshing my memory - it really hasn't been that long...) the leak wasn't the complete album (just the majority of it (and it did contain the best songs from the final record.) The versions were the premastered version (as I mentioned in the piece.)

You could be right about Kevin forcing the label's hand... It's a chicken and the egg debate. (It's either that Rose and the Label were getting close to release which opened the opportunity for a leak, which got him the music. - or - as you say, he leaked and then they rushed it out.)

Either way... Kevin even had the option of leaking just one or two tracks. (It's called "restraint" and it would have seriously helped him now in the legal arena.)

Leaking a pair of tracks would have gotten him the same high level of exposure on the website and certainly wouldn't have landed him in all this trouble.

ekko said...

First, it is irrelevant legally whether he leaked 1 track or all of them. Remember: The first people to go to jail for blogging were two Florida bloggers who leaked 2 tracks off of Ryan Adams' 29 album.

Second, it is facile and insulting to say that the leak is justified because it "forced" Axl to release music that he didn't want the public to hear. It is irrelevant that he sat on the album for 10, 20 or whatever years. It's HIS ART! if the label doesn't like it, they can sue him for breach.

What gives anyone the right to say that artists must release their work? Frankly, I think GnR should have STOPPED releasing music after Use Your Illusion. Their legacy would have been better.

Personally, I think leakers are bad because they deprive the artist the right (and joy) of releasing his own work his way. When an artist creates something, it is like his child, and he should have the right to expose (or not to expose) it to the public criticism.