Some time between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the entirety of Drakes “Take Care” album, the follow-up to his breakout 2010 debut “Thank Me Later”, found its way onto the Internet.
As news of the leak spread, Twitter exploded with chatter about it, and while any artists get extremely rankled when their music gets out prior to the release date (and, of course, for free), Drake himself was pretty casual about it.
Tweeting late last night:
“Listen, enjoy it, buy it if you like it…and take care until next time”
The idea of an album leaking is not really a story, after all, pretty much everything leaks, and the timeline for “Take Care” is about right (the release date is next Tuesday, November 15, which means the finished album probably got lifted somewhere along the lines of production).
Drakes casual reaction is the right one. After all, if people had not gone out of their way to leak his album, that probably means people were not interested in the first place. An album leak is something of a validation, and though it may also feel like a backhanded (and bad for business) compliment, it still tells the artist, “You are worth stealing from.”
It will probably cost Drake a bit in album sales, but research shows that for a guy in Drakes position, leaks do not have as negative an impact as you might think — the logic being it is that, people who will download the leak were unlikely to purchase the album in the first place. Plus, considering Drake himself had unleashed no fewer than six of the tracks from “Take Care” himself (including “Crew Love,” which showed up on Saturday on a radio station in Toronto), there was already plenty of Drake music out there for people to take.
In reality, it is a bigger story when albums do not leak. The most famous recent example of that was “Watch the Throne”, Kanye West and Jay-Zs superstar collaboration album. Considering hip-hop records are usually the first in line to leak, the fact that “Watch the Throne” was not available to anybody in its full form until the on-sale date is pretty amazing — and pretty labor intensive.
Sadly, the “Watch the Throne” approach is not easily replicated. Staggering the release was an excellent idea (the album was available to purchase as a download on a Monday, and the physical CD was available on Friday, so during the entire shipping process — where many albums find themselves leaking — the album was available as a paid download), and journalists only got a single listen to it in an isolated space, which meant that there were no dangerous promo copies floating around.
In the lead-up to the release of “Watch the Throne”, the security process was thorough but also prohibitively expensive. Throughout the albums production, West kept control of all the master tracks, and he never let the files out of his sight. If he wanted a producer or an engineer to work on something, West had to be in the room with that person, which often meant that people were flying all over the world just to do a day or two of work on “Watch the Throne”.
When you have a Kanye-sized budget, you can afford to spend thousands on airfare as a way of protecting your work, but West and Jigga are just about the only people with the sort of bankroll who can invest in that sort of protection.
Still, the first part is an excellent idea, and more artists should make their music readily available at download stores just in case the leak occurs. Even if a small percentage of people spend their cash for a download, that is more than what the artist was walking away with before. At the moment, you cannot even pre-order “Take Care” on iTunes, which seems like a bit of a mistake on Drakes camps behalf. But again, it is hard to get riled up about it, especially when you have got Kendrick Lamar on the offensive for you.
Everything leaks. That is the world that we live in now, with high-speed Internet at every turn and armies of hackers looking to one-up one another with their digital discoveries. Getting angry and reactionary only makes you look out of touch.
Drakes music is out there, but he knows that he got to where he is by working hard and establishing a deep rapport with his audience, and that should pay off for him in the long run.
True music fans will support their favorite artists with an album purchase even after they have downloaded the leak, and those who have no intention of paying for music, most likely, never will.