Posted by Kalyani M. on May 29, 2013
It seems that every other day you hear of some critic bemoaning the demise of the recording industry. And it’s true that labels have struggled to stay relevant in an era of independent artists and digital downloads. But while the industry has taken drastic measures to combat digital piracy, there is still a glaring lack in security standards to guard against album leaks. Unplanned album leaks threaten the entire music industry, from major labels to independent artists. As hackers ruin painstakingly planned marketed releases and the music industry continues to adapt to changing pressures, private cloud storage offers a safeguard from leaks.
Hacked musician phones, emails, and computer drives have become so commonplace that we’ve come to accept it as part of the territory that comes with celebrity. But aside from the massive invasion of privacy and rights that such hacking imposes on artists, they also threaten the very source of their livelihood. Recently, Jai Paul suffered a leak of illegally seized demo tracks passed off as his latest album on Bandcamp. As Jai Paul wrote on Twitter, “To confirm demos on bandcamp were not uploaded by me, this is not my debut album. Please don’t buy. Statement to follow later.”
Jai Paul’s label, XL Recordings put out a statement in regards to the leak saying, “As widely reported, on Sunday 14th April, music by XL Recordings artist Jai Paul was illegally made available via a fake Bandcamp account. This music was not uploaded by Jai and it’s not his debut album – it is a collection of various unfinished recordings from Jai’s past. Neither XL or Jail will take any money from the sale of this music. We have been working with Bandcamp and PayPal to resolve this situation and they have told us all purchases will be refunded within the next 7 days.”
In the case of this album leak everyone but the hacker lost. Fans were disappointed in the poor quality of these unreleased tracks, never meant to be put out in wide distribution, and had to wait a week before getting their money back. Jai Paul and XL Recordings suffered a loss in image and the leak distracted from his actual album debut. And even Bandcamp’s brand was damaged as artists now worry about the site being used for fake pages in the future. And even iconic bands like U2, have been unable to properly secure their music from hacking and leaks as shown by a recently leaked jam session video posted by a fan.
While fans await the long anticipated release of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, the French electronic duo have had to suffer several leaked “versions” of their singles. The most recent leak of “Giorgio by Moroder” is of poor quality and frustrates the painstaking efforts of the producers and marketing team that have hoped for a polished and planned release.
From EDM to rock, album leaks threaten the entire chain of the music industry as they can help illegal downloads spread long before an official release, causing plummeting drops in sales. For the band Phoenix, the leak of their latest album simply killed the magic for their fans. As Deck D’Arcy put it in a recent interview with Fuse, “It’s more important for the fans, actually. Because as a music fan before the Internet…we would discover, we would wait like crazy for the release date. And a “leak” was not in the vocabulary of the music world. So we were dying for records to come out. There was a lot of emotion…But for people, they don’t have the same tension and that’s a little bit of a shame.”
Album leaks even have the potential to derail a planned marketed release as shown in the case of Kid Cudi’s Indicud. The rapper’s sophomore album was leaked three weeks before its scheduled release date, causing his label to scramble to release the album a week early to avoid any further losses in album sales.
And even debut acts like Stooshe have found themselves on the bitter end of an album leak. The pop trio unfortunately had their debut album leaked a year early before final production. As Karis Anderson told Digital Spy, “It was frustrating of course,” and Courtney Rumbold added, “The mixing and mastering on the songs has changed a bit…We’ve added ‘Slip’ and two new songs…When the album leaked, we didn’t want to give everyone the same album again.” With the inherent pressures of a debut album, the leak forced Stooshe to essentially record and master a whole new record at added studio and production costs.
A Private Storage Solution
For labels and artists that want a sure way to avoid against album leaks, a solution lies in anonymous cloud storage and sharing services like SpiderOak, which provide all the benefits of cloud storage and syncing while protecting against hacking and security breaches. SpiderOak is a cloud service that offers data backup, storage, and syncing services. It separates itself from the crowded cloud market by offering full privacy and anonymity. Through 256-bit AES encryption and two-factor password authentication, SpiderOak ensures that business files, folder names, filenames, and passwords cannot be read or accessed by SpiderOak or its employees, so labels and artists can rest easy knowing no one has access to their treasured tracks.
As for two-factor authentication, this is similar to the process used with some banking and financial services that require a PIN or correct answer to a secret question as an extra precautionary measure. For SpiderOak, this means submitting a private code through SMS in addition to the encrypted password to log in. Once successfully logged in, users store and share data with 100 percent privacy, as SpiderOak has “zero-knowledge” of uploaded data and plaintext encryption keys.
This way, only approved artists and producers can access tracks and works in progress, to ensure that nothing leaks without the approval of the artist and label. Through protecting their tracks with private storage, artists can secure record sales without having to worry about competing with an early leak. SpiderOak’s services are available with Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop environments, along with Android and iOS mobile platforms.