When Music Is Purloined, Artists Try to Exploit Opportunity

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Madonna Speaks Out After Hacker Gets Arrested for Leaking Her Rebel Heart Music.

When nearly 30 new Madonna songs, many of them unfinished demos, surfaced online last month, the singer and her team reacted both emotionally and with a savvy business acumen tailored to the digital era.The 39-year-old’s arrest comes after an investigation was launched by Israel’s Lahav 433 crime-fighting agency over leaked songs from Madonna’s new Rebel Heart album. In public statements on Instagram, Madonna called the leaks “a form of terrorism” and likened the theft to “artistic rape,” urging fans not to listen to songs that were “stolen long ago and not ready to be presented to the world.” But behind the scenes, Madonna’s team was scrambling not only to find the source of the leak, an investigation that resulted in the arrest of a man in Israel on Wednesday, but also to set the stage for her new album, “Rebel Heart,” which had not yet been announced. It wasn’t quite the surprise album strategy used most famously by Beyoncé, but something more makeshift: Within days, six songs from the album had been polished and officially released for sale on iTunes and Amazon, with the rest of the album promised on March 10.

After the appearance of “Vulnicura” on illegal downloading sites over the weekend, the singer’s record label rushed the entire album to digital retailers, and by Tuesday night, it was available for purchase worldwide. In the online music age, advance leaks are all but inevitable — Björk’s and Madonna’s happened to come exceptionally early — but the same distribution methods that make downloading stolen songs a breeze can allow artists to take control of the chaos and try to make lemonade from a sour situation. “In the past, labels tried to shut down leaks by hiring so-called ‘web sheriffs’ who stopped blogs from sharing the links,” said Staffan Ulmert, the founder of HasItLeaked.com, which tracks early album releases. “But it’s really difficult to shut down a leak once it starts.” Recently, the strategy used by artists and their labels has shifted: Previously, Mr.

Ulmert said, labels would offer an online stream after an album leaked, either through a media outlet or a site like SoundCloud. “But I don’t think they are generating a lot of money,” Mr. In December, Guy Oseary, the singer’s manager, approached Wizman Yaar Investigations, a Tel Aviv-based firm that specializes in intellectual property theft and commercial leaks. Alon Levy, Wizman Yaar’s head of high-tech investigations, said the firm sent investigators to New York to check Madonna’s personal computer, and using the data they collected, tracked the theft back to Israel. On Wednesday, Micky Rosenfeld, the foreign press spokesman for the Israeli police, confirmed on Twitter that a 39-year-old man “suspected of hacking known artists’ computers, stealing and distributing songs” had been arrested, although Madonna was not named.

An Israeli police unit said in a statement that the suspect “broke into the personal computers of several international artists over the past few months and stole promotional final-cut singles which have yet to be released and traded them online for a fee.” Law enforcement officials did not identify the suspect. The law enforcement unit added that it had “collaborated closely with the F.B.I., with suspicion of even more break-ins to computers owned by unknown international artists, stealing and selling their works.” While online album leaks have plagued artists since the dawn of Napster in 1999, Mr. This invasion into my life — creatively, professionally and personally — remains a deeply devastating and hurtful experience, as it must be for all artists who are victims of this type of crime.” Björk’s label, One Little Indian, has not approached any law enforcement agencies about the leak because it was focused on releasing the music, said Derek Birkett, the label’s founder. “We had lots of discussions about alternative ways to get it out,” including preorders and streams, he said. Björk, meanwhile, avoided directly mentioning the leak at all. “ ‘Vulnicura’ will be rolling out worldwide over the next 24 hours!!” she wrote on Facebook on Tuesday, announcing the change of plans. “I am so grateful you are still interested in my work!!” she added. “I appreciate every little bit!!!”

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