Penny for my Thoughts

Leaked Albums: To Listen or Not to Listen?

In a world where the internet has become the number one go-to source for all things pertaining to music and entertainment, it has become fairly easy for individuals to obtain access to exclusive content and material. Amongst that material lies albums from your favorite music artists, just waiting to be presented to the world, thus making it more common for them to eventually be leaked.Although pretty much everything is digital these days and a vast majority of listeners are pro leaked albums, you still have a massive amount of listeners who stand firmly against this particular method of illegally releasing music. Many feel that it shows a lack of support and additionally is a slap in the face to artists who consistently put out free music year-round for our listening pleasure.

Not only do dedicated fans have qualms about leaked material, but some artists themselves frown upon it and have spoken out about it as well. Last year, Hip-Hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar took to his Twitter to make clear his annoyance the day that his good kid, m.A.A.d. city album cover leaked.

When u leak my album cover, Know that its not a price tag. Its my LIFE. & there’s a lot of serious ppl that care about lil Kendrick’s life,” he tweeted.

A little over a month later, he once again turned to Twitter to release a statement when his now almost-platinum album was leaked just a few days before the official release date, “My real fans know the deal #GKMC Oct 22nd. (!!!)

With the leak of J. Cole’s Born Sinner and Kanye West’s Yeezus, many music aficionados have taken part in downloading and listening to the albums in their entirety and also offering their unsought after opinions, while others have protested against supporting either of the leaks.

The question that has always piqued my interest is what factors play into people’s reasoning to either support or not support leaks. Most people support leaks simply because they would like to find out if what they will possibly be spending their money on is going to even be worth it.

Expressing his opinion on the matter, Thabo Nyoni said, “At the end of the day, I don’t see what’s so wrong with getting accustomed to the product before knowing what to expect.”

Agreeing with the aforesaid, Christen Nance went into further detail as to why he feels the need to listen to an album once leaked rather than waiting until the release date, “I feel like, if I buy an album without listening to it first and I end up not liking it, I feel [as if] I force my mind into liking it and making myself think it’s better than what it really is… Should we spend money on an artist album just because they made good music in the past or they are your favorite artist? Isn’t that telling the artist that his bullsh*t album is actually good if you are supporting the profit of that album?

While others may be able to agree with that particular statement in full, I can’t say that I myself agree with the first half, due to the fact that in the past I have purchased albums that did not leave me as pleased as I thought they would have, after multiple listens. Upon coming to the conclusion that I WASN’T as pleased with said album, it proceeded to collect dust at the top of my closet and that was just the end of that. I wouldn’t continuously listen to an album that I have already made my mind up about not being pleased with, just to try to force myself into liking it, regardless of if the artist is one of my favorites or not.

If I don’t like it, I don’t like it. Period.

As far as other reasons I think people have for why they partake in supporting leaks, it’s really all a matter of their excitement.

In a way, it’s almost like how a child feels the night before Christmas. You find yourself so excited that it’s nearly impossible to just give in and go to sleep because you’re so eager to finally be able to hear the album. Sure you’ve heard the official singles that were released by the artists themselves and are now receiving radio play and are floating all over the internet. But… that’s not enough, you still want to hear the actual ALBUM. So, of course when a leak DOES eventually surface on the net, you’re enthralled! You can’t help BUT to give in to temptation and download the album – oh, but not before sharing it with others because you’re just as excited for them to hear it as well.

On the other hand, aside from leaks taking away from sales, excitement is also a factor that plays into why some opt NOT to support leaks. Specifically, maintaining that excitement. Although giving in and downloading an album before its official release date can either intensify or diminish your excitement, NOT giving in will keep that excitement at a heightened level.

I just think it [listening to leaked albums] makes buying the album pointless and brings your excitement level down to nothing,” said Jalen Woods. “If you’re constantly playing music for a week, then you go buy it, you have nothing to look forward to. You know exactly what you’re getting,” he added.

Fellow J. Cole fan Ifeanyi Onwumah too agreed with the loss of excitement that comes with supporting leaks, “I don’t want to lose the excitement… There’s this feeling I got when I went to the store and bought the Sideline Story CD, popped in for the first time and heard all the songs fresh that I don’t wanna lose with Born Sinner. Hearing all the songs just kills all the excitement and anticipation. My point is, I’m not holding off because if I listen I won’t buy it, but because I don’t wanna kill the buzz for myself.”

Could she have stated it any better? That’s exactly how I feel whenever an artist I like is gearing up to release a new project. I never listen to leaks. For what? I’ve waited x amount of time, what’s a few more days? Yeah, I am impatient and I understand that every artist’s album leaks but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to it. So, when it comes to finally being able to hear an album in its entirety, then why not wait?

With all of that being said, I will be waiting until tomorrow to hear both Born Sinner AND Yeezus.

How do YOU feel about leaked albums?

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