When Music Publications Feature Leaked Music They Betray Artists
Leaks are a shameful but probably inevitable part of the music business. It's rare for a month to go by without some artist having their unreleased work leaked against their will on the internet. And while music publications can't possibly stop leaks from happening, it's our moral obligation to not support or encourage them by featuring them on our sites.
When artists play unreleased tunes out at gigs, it's inevitable that some people in the audience will have their phones out and record video, and share those recordings online. While this certainly bothers some artists, we wouldn't consider this a leak because it's always going to be a low quality live recording that is unlikely to compromise the eventual value of the tune when it's officially released. And in many cases, this kind of live clip sharing and the id discussions that follow build hype around the tune and make it more sought after, so when it officially drops fans and other DJs buy it right away.
Of course there are plenty of instances of artists or their publicity teams using the term "leak" to build viral hype around something that is intentionally released for promotional purposes - that's not what we are talking about.
A true leak is when a studio quality version of an unreleased tune is shared on the internet against the artist's will. This can happen in a number of ways, often simply because the tune was shared privately with someone who the artist thought they could trust. Perhaps more troubling is we have indications that some recently leaks in the EDM world have been of tunes that have not been shared with anyone, suggesting that someone is hacking private file servers and online backups.
Regardless of how or why this is happening, it is terrible for the artists. And to be clear - we aren't referring to music being leaked from huge, successful, wealthy artists. While leaking music from any artist is morally lousy, it's particularly evil when the artists targeted are up and coming acts working to build their fan bases and often just barely getting by on meager booking fees.
When a tune is leaked, it can ruin months of carefully planned, costly promotion, damage relationships with labels, void valuable licensing deals, and of course hurt sales once the tune is released. And while the total financial losses for larger artists will be more substantial, these types of losses can irreparably devastate the budding career of a smaller artist.
Music publications would not exist without the artists. They pour their hearts (and time and money) into creating the music that is the lifeblood of our industry. When publications feature stolen and leaked music, they are betraying the very people that we all depend on to survive. Of course fans want to hear new, unreleased music from their favorite artists - so leaks will always attract attention and drive traffic. But no publication can honestly say that they support the artists if they take advantage of leaks to bolster their own popularity.
So we are taking a stand on this. From this point forward, you will never see leaked music featured on EDM.com, and we'll be going back through our archives and removing any articles that featured true leaks.