If your music has any sort of fanbase people are going to be looking forward to your new release. This means if you decide to distribute it in any way before your release date it is probably going to leak. Recently, we wrote about the band Thrice having their record leak 90+ days in advance of their anticipated release. To make matters worse it was a not properly mastered recording with an annoying voiceover on top of it. It can be heart breaking to work hard on the sonics of a record and inevitably the second you put up a stream of a record a terrible sounding 128k Mp3 version of the record goes out all over the Internet. The old wisdom was that people would buy it because they want a good sounding copy of the record but by now we know better. It is 2009 and we know some people aren’t going to pay for music and probably listen to the first copy of the song they get no matter how flawed the format and quality of it.
Working With It
Since we have now accepted your record is going to leak the second a stream or distributed listening copies are out in the world you now need to think about what is your plan for when it leaks. My first suggestion would be to have a high quality copy up on the torrent sites either in advance or the second it leaks. Link it on your fan pages if it does not become the popular torrent for the record, but make sure your fans do not have to hear a weak sounding recording with gremlin sounding cymbals and instead something listenable. This will help promote your music much more than a terrible sounding version of it. If we accept the inevitability that it will hit these torrent sites you can at least prepare for it.
The Ability To Pay
If your record leaks or you know it is going to it would be smart to have a high quality paid option up to give all of your fans who want your release but actually support your music financially. There is nothing that tears at a fans heart string more than knowing someone has a record they want but they don’t want to illegally download a record. Often times this is what converts someone into a torrent “freak” and gets them into this world. TuneCore offers a expedited service to get your music on iTunes within a week. You can put your music up on sites like BandCamp and have it up instantly and then link it on every site you maintain. The faster you make this available the more chance you have to financially gain from the leak. You can also put up one of those PayPal donate buttons on your site, but I doubt this will be as effective as the other means.The possibilities are endless. Giving your fans the option to buy the second they can have it through other means is crucial otherwise you risk your fans already being bored and on to the next thing by the time your record is available for purchase.