In light of a comment posted on an article earlier today, I feel like I have to make my position on illegal downloading very clear. But before I begin, I will preface this by saying that I am not an angel and I am surely not innocent. I have illegally downloaded music in the past but I don’t do it anymore. If I download an album it is either given to me by record labels OR I download it for review purposes, after which I immediately delete it.
That being said, let me go down a few points that irk the hell out of me when I hear an album has leaked.
1) Rarely will you get the good audio quality version – Okay, let’s start simple. If you’re downloading a leaked copy of the album, it’s either a watermarked version meant for an editor (which I’ll address in a bit) or it’s a shitty web rip with subpar audio quality that no set of Dr. Dre’s Beats will make sound good. To put it into perspective, do me a favor and watch THIS. Now watch THIS. THAT is a perfect example of the difference in audio quality. Subpar audio quality loses a huge amount of both the low and high end frequencies that our ears so delightfully devour. A good example of our ears enjoying this phenomenon is in our car stereo. Do you have a certain point on your volume knob as you raise the volume where suddenly everything sounds crisper and tighter? Engineers know that boosts in the low and high ends are what people want to hear, so they give it to them (usually at ear shattering volumes, but what can you do?).
Conclusion: Your patience will grant you an album that sounds the way the band intended for you to hear it. And, after all, isn’t that the ultimate point of getting an album?
2) You mess with my job – No, I’m not joking. I try to bring you reviews of albums before they come out. Why? So that you can decide, if my opinion counts enough in your decision process, whether or not to pick up an album (if my opinion isn’t that high, don’t worry, I’m not offended). When you get the album in advance, what’s the point in my writing a review? You’ve already formed an opinion based on personal tastes whereas my job is to try and maintain a bird’s eye perspective and distance my own personal feelings so that I can come up with an unbiased review. Does that always work? Hell no! But you better believe I go into each and every review with that mindset fully in place. I want to bring you a review that you can rely on.
Also, let me talk a bit about watermarking, which I mentioned above. For those of you who don’t know what watermarking is, it’s the process by which a digital signature is placed upon the audio files before being sent to an editor or reviewer. If an album leaks, the label can then find the signature on the files and, BAM!, you’re caught and prosecuted. Is this your fault as a listener or an impatient customer? Nope. Not one bit. I don’t blame you. I blame the poor sap who wasn’t careful with his computer and got screwed. Like, royally screwed. As in no more job and blacklisted. FOR LIFE. Do you want to have that kind of burden resting upon your shoulders? Didn’t think so.
Conclusion: If you enjoy reading my reviews, or music reviews in general, don’t spoil them for yourself! That’s part of the hype and excitement, isn’t it?
3) You’re spitting in the face of the band you want to hear – There is no nicer way to put it. Any band can tell you that recording an album is no easy process. Hell, most bands breakup during the recording process. Why? Because emotions are at all time highs. Members get emotionally invested in certain passages or phrases and the thought of those parts being cut is almost too much to bear. I know, I’ve been there.
Then, once the album is finally done being recorded, the band has to put together the full packaging! That means they work hard on the booklet, which includes art and/or photography that the band feels acts as a visual representation of the music you’re about to enjoy. They also get to thank everyone involved as well as name all the people who worked behind the scenes, such as the producers, engineers, additional musicians, etc… These people deserve to be recognized and appreciated. Nope, not gonna happen when you pirate an album.
And what about the fact that the band wants you to hear the music in the way they intended? Sometimes, the timing of a release is very crucial to how one absorbs it. Imagine an album that has a very “summer-y” feel to it, only it was released in winter. Poor choice right? The feeling that the band wanted to convey is gone, all because of the difference of a month or two. Or maybe the band wants to play some new songs live as a treat. Y’know, give the fans something unexpected? Surprise ruined. Gee, thanks guys.
Conclusion: If you really love a band, trust in them. Trust that they are releasing a product that you can count on. And if you hate it, well, at least you gave them the fullest chance to prove themselves, which means you gave yourself the greatest opportunity to appreciate it.
Is this a complete list? Nope. Is any of this based upon actual fact? Probably a few points, yes. But in general, this is my personal opinion on the topic. Do I expect any of you to change? I will never expect change. I can only hope for it.