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Last.fm Shoots Down Rumors Over U2 Album Leak 93

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the eno-is-the-only-reason-u2-still-exists dept.
nandemoari writes "Internet radio site Last.fm has denied reports that it told the record industry which of its members had listened to a leaked U2 album. The site claims the entire story, published by Techcrunch, was made up. Last week the record industry became extremely concerned after U2's forthcoming album appeared on several torrent file sharing sites. While there is no way any users could have acquired the album through Last.fm, the site's statistics suggest that more than 8,000 users have played the unreleased album on their machines."
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Last.fm Shoots Down Rumors Over U2 Album Leak

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  • by slifox (605302) * on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:37AM (#26957795)

    Very often I see comments dismissing any reasons for not freely giving out any and all seemingly-trivial personal information...

    Well, this is the perfect situation for justifying the desire for what is now often considered excessive privacy. While some information alone may not seem sensitive, the conclusions others' might draw about you from it, combined with other info (like your profile data), may indeed be worth protecting.

    Of course, if no one gave out any information, the internet would be very blank... So clearly a balance between giving out personal info and linking that personal info together is necessary. For example, the only way I'd submit my playlists to Last.FM is if it were done in an anonymous fashion, such that my user account doesn't link back to me, my IP, or any other personally-identifying info. Otherwise, I'd be happy to include some profile info, but don't count on getting my playlist too!

    • by theginjaninja (848364) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:50AM (#26957939) Homepage
      I think the bigger problem we have is that people are still listening to U2!
    • by jetsci (1470207)
      What if they implemented something along the lines of 1 time credit card numbers. Imagine you could be assigned a very random set of characters associated with your identity that would allow you to register for services and only trusted sites had access to the 'true' information.

      Then again, using a service such as this implies a central server with all the information and that is scary just by itself.
      • I'm not sure if I'm playing into a woosh moment, but paypal has a free "secure card" service that generates such one-time-use credit card numbers..

        Paypal introduces secure cards [geek.com]
      • How about storing that info on one's personal server?

        Or encrypted and signed, then spread in the cloud, and you'd just hand out private keys that'd able to decrypt parts of the information, to trusted parties.
    • by argent (18001)

      Top Tracks
      1. Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
      2. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World
      3. Yasunori Mitsuda - Another Telmina
      4. Joe Hisaishi - River Side
      5. Air - Alpha Beta Gaga
      6. Led Zeppelin - Going to California
      6. Jeff Wahl - Linus and Lucy
      8. Joe Hisaishi - Summer
      9. djpretzel - Zelda 64 Pachelbel's Ganon OC ReMix
      10. Berlin Chamber Orchestra, Peter Wohlert - Brandenburg Concerto No.6 in B flat major

      Oh the embarrassment.

    • by KillerBob (217953)

      Replying here so that it's at the top, rather than it being lost in the deluge.

      My local alt rock station played the album, in full, every track, the day before the leak hit everywhere. Not only were they broadcasting it over the air, they have a 192kbit live stream out over the Internet that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. (http://www.livelifelive.fm ... sadly, it's blocked by my work filters.)

      Something tells me the leak has nothing to do with Last.FM.... nasty rumours about them sharing info, e

    • Well, this is the perfect situation for justifying the desire for what is now often considered excessive privacy. [...] For example, the only way I'd submit my playlists to Last.FM is if it were done in an anonymous fashion, such that my user account doesn't link back to me, my IP, or any other personally-identifying info.

      That solution may be fine for you, and that's all and good, but what about the exhibitionists among us? After all, it's the exhibitionists who are affected by this, not you.

      Personally, I'

  • Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesmcm (1354379) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:38AM (#26957809)
    Even if they were reporting it, the moment they started acting on the fact the ID3 tags showed leaked albums, people would change all their ID3 tags to leaked albums in protest.
  • by catxk (1086945) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:46AM (#26957883)

    The album is available for preview on Spotify and Spotify is integrated with last.fm, so is it possible the 8000 last.fm users who listened to the tracks are perfectly legal Spotify users?

  • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:47AM (#26957909)

    Or, given the way last.fm works, 8,000 people submitted the names of the album tracks to the site. Which you could just do by re-tagging other files, or just submitting whatever you felt like to the web service.

    The fact that 8,000 have apparently listened to the album, based on their last.fm submissions, doesn't mean any of them actually have. Of course it doesn't mean they haven't either; it's just that last.fm data is hardly authoritative.

    • Good luck arguing that to a court. Maybe you need to go back to that "You Are Not a Lawyer" post from a couple weeks ago.
    • by Coopjust (872796) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:12AM (#26958173)
      The fact that many customers bought the album from legally Universal Australia, which was the source of the leak [eonline.com], means that trying to seek out the cause or find who downloaded the album vs. who bought it from Universal Australia means that any data collection from Last.FM would be useless- no way to determine who paid vs. who didn't.
    • While there is no way any users could have acquired the album through Last.fm, the site's statistics suggest that more than 8,000 users have played the unreleased album on their machines."

      Sure, nobody could recorded it, ***Cough**Analog*Hole*Cough*** but 8.000 listened to it.

  • by VShael (62735) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:52AM (#26957955) Journal

    that 8000 people hearing it, have guaranteed 8000 no-sales.

    It's terrible.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      How will Bono put food on his plate?

    • by webreaper (1313213) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:01AM (#26958041) Homepage

      It's an interesting premise.

      There's a school of thought that says the pirated music encourages more people to buy through album sales based on 'previews'. And yet the RIAA claim this sort of piracy decreases sales.

      Perhaps it's just that people hearing the full album realise it's shit. I wonder if albums sales would decrease even further if radio stations played the full track-listing before the CD was available to buy.

      • by Cassini2 (956052) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:15AM (#26958197)

        There's a school of thought that says the pirated music encourages more people to buy through album sales based on 'previews'. And yet the RIAA claim this sort of piracy decreases sales.

        Advertising based on word of mouth is fickle for advertisers. If you have something good, then it works better than anything else. People trust friends. If your product sucks, then people still trust their friends, and won't touch your product.

        Internet P2P programs like BitTorrent amplify this effect. Now, you can listen to something yourself, and figure out for yourself how much you like it. Thus P2P results in a dramatic decrease in control for advertisers. It is even more fickle than word of mouth.

        If you have a poor product, but from a band with a good reputation, then you want to blitz market the product. Let no one listen to it in advance. Have it show up at stores in massive quantities the day of launch, and sell as much as you can on the first day. This way you can scam as many people as possible for first day sales. With some luck, this first day blitz will cover your costs, and everything will turn out OK. The movie industry specializes in this tactic.

        P2P threatens to completely destabilize this advertising tactic. The record companies, which are really big advertisers, will not be happy about this loss of control. Even if P2P ultimately makes them more money, the record companies still won't be happy about the loss of control.

        • P2P threatens to completely destabilize this advertising tactic. The record companies, which are really big advertisers, will not be happy about this loss of control.

          Record companies have been dealing with this loss of control for almost a decade and are continuing to adapt. It's physical product retailers who have more of an issue as they are the ones dependent upon the street date to make their money, which is why so many have gone out of business.

        • It's not fickle, it just can't be quantified. If it can't be quantified, it can't be monitized, if it can't be monitized, you'll have everyone who makes even a penny off of advertising sales paying for studies that show that word of mouth is just like stealing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Perhaps it's just that people hearing the full album realise it's shit. I wonder if albums sales would decrease even further if radio stations played the full track-listing before the CD was available to buy.

        I'm not much on psych (I think it is clear from my posting history that I am not a people person) but the news articles which might seem contradictory have already told this tale. People who download mp3s do buy more music than people who don't. They don't buy the same music. At the same time, it's clear that many people both a) don't want to have to worry about music expiring and yet b) are tired of buying CDs. I just had to explain this whole WMA DRM thing to my lady over the issue of some library audiobo

        • by iminplaya (723125)

          ...Oscars Recap on the front page...

          Certainly is lowbrow stuff. Definitely belongs in idle. What's happening to Slashdot front page today is very comparable to the commercialization and degradation of FM radio in the early/middle seventies. Thank goodness the comments and journals make up for it.

      • Perhaps it's just that people hearing the full album realise it's shit. I wonder if albums sales would decrease even further if radio stations played the full track-listing before the CD was available to buy.

        There have been "Hear it before you can buy it" and "Win it before you can buy it" campaigns on radio for many years. This has extended to full album previews through Last.FM, imeem, MySpaceMusic, iLike, etc. Even when the music isn't great, some fans are still going to buy it because they are just that, fanatics.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by hollywoodb (809541)

      that 8000 people hearing it, have guaranteed 8000 no-sales.

      It's terrible.

      Well kudos to U2 for consistency then.

  • by Tom (822) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:58AM (#26958017) Homepage Journal

    The poor music industry, I feel so sorry for it. For years and years they have driven the marketing machine so that everyone absolutely must get the album on the day it's out, or as soon as possible. Mostly due to the way the charts are calculated by sales peaks, but also because everyone wants money now.

    And now people can't wait for the release day anymore. Geez. Who would have guessed?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LordKaT (619540)

      anymore? I can assure that before the Internet, the music industry had the same "leaked albums" problem. Only they were combating street vendors in NYC, not some random torrent seeders.

    • Magic the Gathering expansion sets have the same situation...a fixed release date, the manufacturer hypes the product to high heaven, and are surprised when people rush.

      Trading cards are a physical-only product that can be controlled better than music products, but the concepts seems similar.

      Though, although the physical cards don't end up freely distributed until it's "time", MTG forums are filled with photo & text spoilers in the weeks leading up to release...

  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:01AM (#26958039) Journal

    Has the record industry found what it's looking for?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:10AM (#26958145)
    Universal Australia accidentally released the album for sale for a period of two hours [eonline.com], 2 weeks before the planned release date. That is how the album was leaked in the first place

    Many fans, including U2 Blogs, made accounts with Universal Australia and bought the tracks within that two hours for about $20. UMG can't just sell people MP3s for $20 and ask for them back- sale done, game over.
  • ... should have done it at the CBS buy-out but I got lazy.
    Last.fm has denied the rumour, but really, reality check time... a pig in a skirt is still a pig, even if you f**k it some of the time...
    How I will miss recommending totally inappropriate drum and bass tracks to my French classical music loving friend ("you have the music tastes of a 15 year old") and weird novelty songs to my sensible sister ("my brother is an idiot") and recording all the crap I play in Amarok on the last.fm playlist

  • by captainclever (568610) <{moc.relbborcsoidua} {ta} {jr}> on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:26AM (#26958321) Homepage
    Please see the official response from last.fm on our blog: http://blog.last.fm/2009/02/23/techcrunch-are-full-of-shit [blog.last.fm]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by psergiu (67614)
      Please tag story as techcruncharefullofshit
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      I hate the fact that your post has been up for an hour and is only at +3 instead of +5. What is wrong with slashdot mods? I guess they prefer conspiracy theories to fact as long as those theories validate their biases, namely that the RIAA has infiltrated all these music sites and that everyone is giving away their names and IP addresses. The conspiratorial anti-corporatism here is worse than usual.

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        I hate the fact that your post has been up for an hour and is only at +3 instead of +5. What is wrong with slashdot mods? I guess they prefer conspiracy theories

        Yeah, right. We all know that The Man is paying you to say that. Bad karma, dude!

      • by Pope (17780)

        We have seen the moderators, and they is us.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      As an independent artist I was considering joining your service until I read this (from the lastfm.com Terms of Use):

      When you upload Your Upload Information via the Website, you irrevocably grant to Last.fm, its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners, without any credit or compensation to you, a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, unrestricted, irrevocable, royalty-free and fully transferable, assignable and sub-licensable right and licence to use, reuse, modify, adapt, alter, display, archive, pu

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mmkkbb (816035)

        From time to time, the Properties may contain functionality through which you can upload or submit information, data, software, messages, photographs, audio, video, text and other materials to, through or on the Website ("Your Upload Information")

        Most of the content uploaded to last.fm beyond your playlists is stuff that becomes part of artist bios. These are a wiki. You agree to similar when you submit information to Wikipedia. ("Such a notice grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duratio

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Yeah, and let the artists decide when and how long people listen to their songs? I love last.fm because I can listen to my own radio stations without someone cramming their idea of what "good" music is down my throat like FM radio or how many times a day I can listen to a song before having to buy it. If last.fm didn't require you to give up control of that copy of your song, artists would be suing last.fm for content control and play list pushing. If you don't like your songs being listened to, then don

      • by prozaker (1261190)
        Last.fm> TRIXED!
  • by uncle slacky (1125953) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:50AM (#26958641)

    Apparently he once said:

    "I've just written a 17-verse poem entitled, "U2 - Four Heads Up One Arse".

  • The "record industry" did not become concerned about the U2 leak nor did it make the inquiry with Last.FM. The Recording Industry Association of America ("RIAA") did, presumably on behalf of Universal Music its largest and most powerful member. This isn't a matter of semantics. There are thousands of recording musicians in the U.S. and around the world who are not represented by the RIAA nor do they share their agenda.
  • You mean this album? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chord.wav (599850) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:17PM (#26958991) Journal
  • I think their bigger problem is not its distribution. For this album, U2 should be trying to get this crap out for free and PAY piratebay and tagoo.ru to host this rubbish and include their crappy CDs with EVERY MCDONALDS HAPPY MEAL! This is, hands down, the worst U2 album ever! It is absolutely uninspiring and pitiful - you can definitely tell that this is just an attempt to make money - they are not even trying, there isnt a shred of their prior talent in it. This album to music is what Velveeta cheese is
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cayenne8 (626475)
      "This album to music is what Velveeta cheese is to cheeses - it is pasteurized and devoid of flavor and texture."

      Yeah, but, what else are you supposed to make cheese dip out of???

  • When you're playing something you have no possible legal right to play, turn off the scrobbling.
    • OR play something you have the legal right to play, and change the id3 tag to something yet unreleased! That will show them!
  • And manwhile... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by root_42 (103434) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:01PM (#26963223) Homepage

    Trent Reznor is giving away NIN's new album for free, and still making a load of money on the album through online, CD, vinyl and DVD sales. (see [1] and [2])

    I say kudos to this man, and his slightly innovative, yet very successful method of distributing music. I have not yet paid for the album, but already downloaded the mp3 and flac version, and I like it! I guess I will try to buy the vinyl, if I can get it in any of the record stores here.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_inch_nails#Ghosts_I.E2.80.93IV_and_The_Slip_.282008.E2.80.93present.29 [wikipedia.org]
    [2] http://www.nin.com/ [nin.com]

  • No, seriously- I don't believe there is even a real dispute here anyway. U2 does not qualify as music, so what's the debate?
  • Please...everyone knows their plow, say that an album was stolen , the tracks are missing, or that someone has caught some download of preview snips of a song, and presto, free advertising for their new album. They have done this so many times, I am ashamed to say that U2 used to be a band I respected because they actually tried to give messages to people about what was going on in other places then our own, but I guess this economic crunch has everyone in a bind!

  • The "hype through radio" days are over.

    Earlier, it was common practice to hand out a few promo-CDs to DJs (and stuff their pockets to play it) to get listeners interested, though you could buy the disc nowhere. Then after weeks or even months of anxious waiting you could FINALLY get it, and lo and behold, no matter how crappy, it went from zero to top instantly because the hype around it was all it took for everyone to JUST WANT IT.

    Now guess how well this kind of hype works in a world where it is trivial to

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