Stereogum is reporting (article) that Jack White called in to chew out the radio station that played the new White Stripes album, Icky Thump, to early. Apparently the station , Q101 in Chicago, played the entire album ahead of it’s add date. The DJ who played the album is claiming on her blog that she played the album because she was a fan and excited to hear it and share it with other fans, but that Jack White claims that she messed it up for the entire music business because a fan recorded the broadcast and distributed the album on the internet. There were a lot of comments on the both sites in support of the DJ, saying it should be perfectly fine for her to play the record, and also in support of the White Stripes saying that the DJ should have respected the add date and waited. Who is right in this situation? Was it irresponsible of the station to allow the DJ to play the advance copy of Icky Thump? What’s the big deal?
Honestly, from my point of view, I can’t understand why Jack White would be all bent out of shape. He has always carried himself as an artist, and as an artist he hasn’t show himself to be concerned with anything other than presenting his music to his fans. This gets the music out to fans. It is usually frustrating to wait several months after finishing an album for it to come out, and before you can play the songs. In this case he seems to be acting as the record company would, as if this is going to affect the bottom line, record sales.
The record company would be concerned with the radio station playing the album early because radio doesn’t have a very long shelf life. It is one of the best ways to reach people, and it is free promotion. However, radio will play a new song by a popular artist almost once an hour, which can be exciting for some, but tiresome for others. Seriously, how many times can you hear the new song by anyone that often? The record company is worried that if you hear the album on the radio before they are ready with their big push, you will lose interest before they can sell you the album. It is crucial that you do not hear a song to the point that you are no longer interested in order to achieve maximum album sales.
In the case of the MP3s of the radio broadcast being leaked, that is another situation where record companies today are claiming is eating into their sales. According to everything I’ve read about this, the leaked tracks are of really bad quality, which would only serve to get White Stripes fans excited to buy the new album. More free promotion.
The situation could be that the album isn’t that good and they want to wait until the last possible minute to let people hear it before buying it. Kinda like when a movie studio won’t release a trailer or let people review a movie before its release. They try to get as many people in the seats before they find out the movie was junk.
It is also entirely possible that this is a stunt in order to generate more press about the album. I’m not a fan of the White Stripes, and I had no idea that they had an album coming out, and I didn’t care. It’s got so many newspapers, music sites and blogs talking about it. More free promotion.
I am guessing that the whole thing is a stunt to get more people to write about the record. Although, I suspect that the album just isn’t any good.