Could you imagine being arguably the biggest band in the world, and having your own record company leak your album in advance? If you’re U2, you won’t have to imagine it – it just happened. Apparently, the Australian leg of U2’s label, Universal, actually leaked the new U2 album, No Line on the Horizon, to an Australian download site, getmusic.com.au. Since then, the album, in full CD quality is splashed all over the internet – even Wal-Mart briefly posted sound samples, then took them down. One report estimated that at least 200,000 copies have already been shared on sites such as Lime Wire and Bit Torrent.
Here, we see how major labels can operate in a more amateur fashion than a toddler’s lemonade stand – the same labels that could have avoided a Napster and an Itunes, if they would have been smart and forward thinking. And here, in this horrible economic climate for the music industry, they allow themselves and U2 to lose millions and millions of dollars in sales.
This wasn’t a skilled hacker who did it — it was them. You might say, “Oh it doesn’t matter. U2 will make so much money on this anyway.” First, the labels are bleeding and need all the money they can get to stay alive, but more importantly, it’s the principle. Universal has made an incalculable amount of money off of U2 and this is the way they return the favor — handling, or should I say bumbling such an important release for this year.
I remember sharing the bill with U2, The Police, and XTC in front of approximately 30,000 people at an Irish castle sight in July of 1980 when at the time, The Police were the headliners. Since then, U2 has made such an incredible journey and they deserve so much better than what their own record label has just done to them.