Why don't more people do this?
Last week, musician and professional eccentric Björk announced that her ninth studio album, Vulnicura, would be released in March. This weekend, a low-quality rip of that album leaked on the internet in its entirety. Today, she announced that the album would be released worldwide within the next 24 hours via Facebook:
dear websitefolks , fans , tweeters and my music supporters on all the sorts of www :
vulnicura will be rolling out worldwide over the next 24 hours !!
i am so grateful you are still interested in my work !!
i appreciate every little bit !!!
Though leaks this early of work by artists as high profile as Björk are rarer than they were, say, 15 years ago, it does happen from time to time. Madonna's a recent notable example—about 30 demos from her upcoming Rebel Heart leaked late last year, prompting her to release a 6-song EP teaser of the record that will be released in full in March. Caribou's Our Love also leaked months in advance last year. I asked him about how that made him feel, and here's part of his response:
The whole intent with this record was to make music to share with people, so if that comes out in a slightly different way than planned, in retrospect, I don't really have a problem with it. It's a bit of a shame in that it's not a shared experience on the release date, but apart from that, I'm glad that people are listening to it.
Björk seems similarly gracious. Leaks fuck up marketing and video rollout timing, but they also serve as a reminder that old models are no longer sufficient for many consumers given our technological advances/addiction to instant gratification. Vulnicura, a downtrodden breakup album that features strings that are somewhere between the stark, angry ones of Homogenic and the sumptuous ones of Vespertine, is a lush work that must be heard in full quality to be appreciated. To go ahead with an unplanned rush release like this is Björk being artistically responsible for her work. She is ensuring that people will hear it as it is meant to be heard, and not be stuck listening to an inferior rip for two months. Props.
This leak response, by the way, falls right in line with Björk's career-long affinity for technology and understanding of how it has shifted the music industry. In 2004, she made that much clear in an interview with the Reykjavik Grapeline:
"You know, its ironic that just at the point the lawyers and the businessmen had calculated how to control music, the internet comes along and fucks everything up. That almost seems like divine intervention." Björk gives the finger again, this time waving it into the air, challenging, no doubt, that great lawyer in the sky. "God bless the internet," she adds.
And what about you, then?
"I'll still be there, waving a pirate flag."
[Image via Getty]