Tuesday, 19 August 2008

U2's new album leaked through YouTube then swiftly removed - reactionary practice or clever viral marketing?

U2's new album 'No Line On The Horizon' has been leaked through a mobile phone and YouTube - this is either more evidence of how the internet is changing music distribution or is an astute manipulation of social media to create hype for the new U2 album.

News organisations have reported that a Dutch fan U2 fan recorded 4 tracks from the new U2 album on his mobile phone after hearing them being played loudly from Bono's beachside home in Eze-sur-mere near Nice. The fan then uploaded the 4 tracks he recorded, 'Moment of surrender', 'For your love', 'Sexy boots' and 'No line on the horizon', to YouTube (though they have since removed for 'copyright violation'.)

Scenario 1 - copyright violation and unofficially leaking:

U2's last album was released 4 years ago. Whilst this may not seem long ago, when the last U2 album was released there was no YouTube, Facebook or MySpace. The leaking of 'No Line on the horizon' onto YouTube has vividly demonstrated how the landscape has changed.

Whilst only a small number may have heard the new tracks before they were removed, there will be a far wider audience searching for them today. Rather than pursuing a 'whack-a-mole' strategy of plugging leaks between now and release, maybe there is a bigger opportunity to capitalise on the buzz and distribute some new content through social media now?

Scenario 2 - New U2 tracks deliberately leaked as part of a viral PR stunt to create hype around the forthcoming album:

There are strong examples of how seeding through social media has enhanced audience and sales. NBC spent the 12 hours blocking sites that showed the Beijing Olympic Opening ceremony before the delayed NBC TV broadcast of it, only to find that the pre-broadcast hype led to the highest audience of any Olympic Opening ceremony staged outside of the US. Coldplay have achieved record success with their album 'Viva La Vida or Death & All His Friends' after releasing the first single as a free download and streaming the whole album free through MySpace prior to release.

Over their career U2 have been seen as pioneers and futurists and the 'leaking' of tracks from the new album is another example of how U2 are at the forefront and fully understand the new media opportunities available to them. The YouTube leaking has created significant online buzz, U2 fans are now fully aware that a new album called 'No Line On The Horizon' will be out soon and the leaking story has gained widespread PR coverage and furthered commentary about how the producers think 'this is the best U2 album ever.'

Question: So which one is it? Is it reactionary U2 striking down copyright violations or is it futurist U2 capitalising on the new opportunities afforded through social media?

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Anonymous said...

hmmm no idea - have they caught the Dutch fan? By the way, myspace is a real danger for artists as it's dead easy to download the tracks on their pages...

Nick Burcher said...

There seems to be more and more comment around it being clever viral promotion - certainly a lot of online discussion around it. Very cleverly done if it was deliberate!

Anonymous said...

hello, ok, i have all four of those songs from the dutch fan who recorded it on a cellphone. it is not great quality, and you can hear the waves in the background because bono's house is located near the ocean in france. if you want it, email me at eye_sprinkler@yahoo.com

i'll email it to you. i also have a fifth song from u2's new album. the reason i'm doing this is because if bono wants to self promote his album by turning up the volume in his house, and leaking parts of the album, don't be pissed when fans like me actually are smart to download them and store them in their computer....

Anonymous said...

OK, this is U2 fan again. OK. I am not going to email anything because you people can trace my ip address easily from there. Therefore, you'll know my entire identity. I'm not sure i'm talking to undercover cops or the fbi or w/e, who wants to bust me for piracy. another guy received 18 months for posting songs prior to the album release of some rock band. instead, i'll make a youtube account and upload the songs there. feel free to continue emailing me, but i will not reply