Recently I received something which was simultaneously both a compliment and an insult, and which was a source of both pleasant surprise and bitter disappointment.
A certain record label (which, for the purposes of this post, will remain nameless) decided that, as a marketing experiment, they would sent pre-release copies of one of their artists’ new albums (which, for the purposes of this post, will also remain nameless) to people who owned and maintained blogs. While there is, of course, no obligation for the blogger to publicise the album in question, either in a full review or simply recommendations to friends, that is clearly what the record label is hoping for. I have no problem with that whatsoever: if I think the album is worth buying, I will – in all likelihood – tell people about it.
When I got hold of my free bit of schwag, my first act was to rip it into iTunes: as I listen to the vast majority of my music in the office, and as I don’t really want to cart a load of CDs around with me, having a new album on my iPod as quickly as possible to give it a good few listens through is a Very Good Thing™.
Unless, of course, the record label has misaligned the tracks on the CD with the songs on the album, so that what iTunes thinks is a track comprises half of one song and half of the next. This is not simply a careless mistake: the record label has deliberately broken the pre-release copies of the album to discourage (so I have been told) recipients from sharing the tracks online.
The way I read this is as follows: “We value your opinion, we want you to check this out and tell your friends what you think. Oh, and by the way, we think you’re a criminal”. Not to mention a criminal who isn’t smart enough to get his copy of QuickTime and re-align the tracks to rip them properly.
This is all a terrible shame, as the album in question is really very good: so much so that, had it not come bundled with a free slap in the face, I would have made sure that anyone with a remotely compatible music taste to myself would have known how good I thought it was. Still, I truly hope that enough people take umbrage to provide a valuable lesson for record companies: if you want to market to bloggers, and if you want them to help you, don’t piss them off.