Leaking albums used to hurt bands. Now it can kill them off completely

(Image credit: Press)

The news about Greg Puciato's solo album leaking three weeks before it was due to be released brought back the memories of Misery Signals' demos being leaked, right before we released our first full album, Of Malice and the Magnum Heart.

At the time, the band was so new I was almost flattered that people cared enough to be chomping at the bit to hear the tracks. My first thoughts were, “Oh, this feels good - people are anticipating what we're making, and all we've released is a rough little self released EP. They want it so bad they're willing to steal it.”

But these were really unpolished, works in progress. Those demos circulated, and it hurt the impact of the actual completed album. People had already heard the sketches of the ideas, but not in their final, fleshed out form. I think that's worse than the album itself going out early.

It's become really clear, now that we're so many more years into the band's career, how narrow the profit margin is in releasing a record independently. You have to really get the timing right, and have people paying attention, so you can have as many listeners anticipating it as possible at the drop. So there is strategy behind when a single or a video comes out, followed by that break where the audience has to wait, and hopefully pre-order the album.  When an album leaks, it throws off that whole rhythm.  

This summer when we released Ultraviolet, we would have lost our ass if we weren't selling pre-order packages, with vinyl and tee shirts, while we were doing a big build up on social media.  If this album had leaked, I don't think we'd have been able to come out on top.

And that's not even to begin to talk about the world right now, and the lack of touring opportunities.  That amputates the legwork part of promoting a record. Plus, so many more people get invested in putting your band out there when you're setting up a tour.  Promoters are out putting up your posters around town, running ads, the bands you're playing with are sharing your stuff with their audience. There's traction before anyone sets foot into a venue.

If you can empathize with those of us out here making music independently or working with small labels, it's a rough time for us.  The leak of Greg’s album makes this even clearer. If you're somehow, above water during this whacked out time, pre-order your favorite band's new record. Sure, you may only listen to Spotify, but this is why your favorite band also makes tee shirts, cause Spotify doesn't pay artists much at all. And unless the artist in question is already a millionaire, for the love of fuck, don't leak their album.

Misery Signals’ new album, Ultraviolet, is out now