Internet forces record companies to cease advance-copy CDs

LOS ANGELES: The relatively new phenomena of Internet music downloads and online auctions has forced a shift in how music labels promote artists and new releases.

LOS ANGELES: The relatively new phenomena of Internet music downloads and online auctions has forced a shift in how music labels promote artists and new releases.

LOS ANGELES: The relatively new phenomena of Internet music

downloads and online auctions has forced a shift in how music labels

promote artists and new releases.



Smarting from a series of incidents that have undercut promotional

efforts (such as the pre-release sale of Jordan Knight CDs on eBay for

as much as dollars 430), record companies are fighting back by putting

the clamps on journalists and radio stations used to receiving new CDs

weeks before their release to the general public.



The Knight incident is a prime illustration of why companies have been

forced to change their traditional way of promoting new releases.

Knight’s label Interscope Records not only lost the revenue from the

auctioned-off CDs, but the black-market availability of the music also

undercut a megabucks promotional campaign. Similarly, rapper Nas was

forced to add new tracks to his recent CD due to a pirated copy being

posted on the Internet in MP3 form before the release date.



As a result, reporters are rapidly losing their once unfettered access

to advanced copies of new CDs. Music writers and critics are being asked

to make written requests for PR materials, with some companies insisting

that writers sign a pledge not to let anyone borrow their advance

copies.



’There are certain artists we won’t get releases for, because the chance

of bootleg would kill its value,’ said Ned Hammad, managing editor of

PULSE! Added Roni Sarig, music editor for Creative Loafing of Atlanta,

’The main problem I have with it is not just the inconvenience, but the

presumption of guilt.’



Several observers said the change is primarily being felt in the hip-hop

genre, among the most hotly anticipated categories of new music. Labels

like LaFace Records, the Atlanta-based Arista subsidiary that launched

R&B talent like Toni Braxton, TLC and Usher, now limit music writers to

in-studio listening sessions.



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