Piracy Releases Music Trapped in Legal Hell

A while back, I wrote about how pirates acted as archivists on a little bit of jazz history when they recorded live concerts by Charlie Parker and John Coltrane and how pirates saved bits of television history by recording on VHS cassettes.

Again, something similar has happened. This time, with an unrelased David Bowie album titled Toy.

Look! It's a David Bowie toy!

Back around 2001, an album collecting a bunch of Bowie’s early works was slated for release. Fans looking forward to such classic music were sorely disappointed when the album was delayed indefinitely because of legal disputes about the songs and the record label and all that. Needless to say, people were a tad upset that lawyers incapable of carrying at tune in a bag were responsible for canning Ziggy Stardust’s early creations. But hey, what can you do when the lawyers get involved and the music industry doesn’t want to sell the album for that filthy, nasty cash money that they seem so interested in most of the time?

Well, you could pirate it and post it online.

See, a few early CDs made it out before the album dropped into legal pandemonium. They’d occasionally show up on eBay and other auction sites. Funny thing is, Bowie and the studios most likely got none of that money from the sale of these albums. After all, they were advanced copies, probably sent to record stores and radio stations. Finally, it seems a few Bowie fans took exception with other people profiting off the unreleased and simply uploaded it for everyone to share.

Now it seems the record labels and perhaps even Bowie himself are upset about this “leak.” Me, I’m not sure how it’s a leak since the album has been in the wild since 2001. Granted, it was a rarity, but the availability of it is unquestionable.

I don’t know a lot about business but I do know this. You don’t dangle a tasty carrot in front of your customers and then just snatch it away. Once they know of the carrot’s existence, they’re going to want it. Most of them will be willing to give you money for that carrot, indeed they will gladly give you money for the carrot. When those customers are standing there, money in hand, ready to buy your carrot and you don’t deliver on it…

That’s not going to make them stop wanting it.

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