By leaving music-loaded USB keys at restrooms during tour, band leaks tracks, but industry's enforcer cracks down on blogs that post them.
When the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) led a raid of mixtape king DJ Drama's Atlanta offices in January, it left many wondering why the industry would crack down on a practice that subsidizes the marketing budgets of major labels.
Now a similar incident has arisen. The RIAA has been sending cease-and-desist letters to blogs and sites that posted leaks of Nine Inch Nails' forthcoming album, Year Zero, despite the fact that those leaks came from Trent Reznor and company themselves.
According to Billboard.com, the leaks stemmed from USB keys the band had left at venues along its recent European tour. Fans discovered them and posted the tracks online, and blogs like Idolator subsequently posted them. Those sites then received cease-and-desist letters from the RIAA, amounting to the industry cracking down on a marketing campaign that the label had backed.
RIAA spokesperson Jenni Engebretsen confirmed to MP3.com today that "letters were sent out at the request of the label" but declined to say whether the trade group intended to follow up on the letters with any action or if the label had requested that it let the matter rest.
Year Zero hits stores April 17, and whether or not it's a result of the leak snafu, NIN has posted the entire album as a stream on its Web site. The marketing has also incorporated cryptic phrases on T-shirts, sporadically appearing song titles on the band's Web site, and fake Web sites for governments, revolutionaries, and companies.
In early February, Web-savvy fans discovered that highlighted letters inside words on a NIN tour T-shirt spelled out "I am trying to believe." Savvy fans added a ".com" to the five words and, voila, located a thought-provoking, eerie Web site. Other associated sites created by 42 Entertainment, where a dark future reigns supreme, were soon discovered. Within days, the blogosphere was rich with anxious NIN fans sharing their experiences on message boards.
In addition, the songs that were leaked were DRM-free, and some of them were in formats that allowed them to be remixed with sequencing software.