So, this weekend brought us the leak of KD's new record "Brother's Blood" which leaked 2 months in advance, which is a major bummer cause he seems to be a genuinely good guy from what I've heard through friends. He recently posted his thoughts about the leak on his myspace blog:
1:22am Brooklyn Time
So it goes, and so it went: over the weekend it came to my attention, first via trickle (a well-meaning e-mail to this website from a kind fan) then via relative flood (a phone call from the label, management, confirmation in the blogosphere, etc.) that "Brother's Blood" has leaked, 2 months before its official release.
I'm ambivalent, or more appropriately, confused. (Is "multivalent" a word? I'm that.) I understand it, and I'm a touch flattered, a touch bewildered, and a touch annoyed. I'm not thrilled with myself for the last of those feelings, because it's ultimately not that surprising in this day and age, and beyond that, I'm pretty positive it wasn't a malicious act borne of career-sabotaging intentions, the 'leak.' Someone probably left a file-share open on the wrong server, or gave an advance of the record (necessary in generating press 'buzz' in our little indie ghetto) to the wrong friend, etc. etc. etc.
Besides - there are clearly WAY WAY WAY bigger issues in the world right now than the iron-clad security (or lack thereof) of my record. It doesn't exactly rate given the context. This is what's called a 'luxury problem,' and rightly so.
That being said, it is making some ripples in my little world, so in the interests of responding/addressing/smoothing it out: downloading music from someone like me IS a different enterprise than, say, downloading the new Eminem or Coldplay or Justin Timberlake disc. Last.fm says I have over 75,000 listeners, which shocked the shit out of me; I've never sold more than probably 8 or 10,000 records in America (and I consider that to be pretty goddamn good).
I work hard at what I do, and I am blessed to be doing it and enjoy it immensely. I'm lucky people give a shit and generally speaking it is an honor to play for you and crazy that I can make a living at it in the process. But by all means, I work, and for the past three years, I have at a pretty intense pace. I've played about 450 shows internationally since June 2006, and I've officially and unofficially released a full-length record (twice), one 7", two EPs, and more than an album's worth of songwriting demos in that time. I've never placed restrictions on filming/photographing my shows and am grateful to the vibrant community that's popped up on YouTube and beyond. I often sell my own merch, and talk to everyone who's interested in talking. I'm not exactly what you'd call inaccessible, and I don't have a history with being withholding or tight-fisted with my content.
So, when viewed from that vantage, it's a little disappointing when someone decides to give away something you've worked hard to present to people in a very specific and deliberate manner for specific and deliberate reasons. It takes my agency away as an artist to share my work with you in context and as intended. It hurts the independent label that risked sinking its money - money they don't necessarily have in bunches - into helping me make a record I'm proud of and really love. And, if the leak impacts how my record actually sells to the small corner of the world expected to purchase it, it potentially hurts the perception about me as a touring artist, at least to the people who look at album sales as an indicator of an artist's viability.
And that's the biggest problem. I've generally been a proponent of, "Fuck it, just give it away - it's going to leak anyway, and so long as kids come to the shows, it all evens out." But if that math is fuzzy, if downloading doesn't beget a bigger draw, someone like me, who is by no means fat with wealth from a career in music, has never received a record label royalty check, and makes his living almost entirely from income earned on the road, is in trouble (relatively speaking). Which I'm sure is NOT the intention of the people downloading the music.
And while that's something to be mindful of, I also realize it's not nearly so intricate a moral decision for those of you at the other end, especially those of you who've grown up your entire music-loving lives in the culture of the freebie. You're on a budget, or you're a casual music fan, or you're voracious and want to hear what the bands you love are working on, and all of it's available with a couple mouse clicks. And that's totally understandable to me. People are not, to borrow a passionate and clear-eyed friend's phrase, "self-negating angels," nor should we be expected to be. If someone in the street had a sign up advertising oranges at a nickel a pop in twenty minutes while across the road someone else was offering those same oranges for free now, I know I'd have a hard time reasoning out why it'd be better to buy one, especially if I'm hungry now, and even more-so if I'm going broke, just got laid off, or in fear of losing my job. A man's gotta eat, and a man's gotta be entertained.
In a sense, I'm flattered anyone WANTS to hear my record two months before it's finished, and add it to the list of things I never thought I'd be able to tell the proverbial grandkids. And from what I understand, the vast majority of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which is heartening. I'd especially like to thank Jason Tate from absolutepunk.net, who offered kind, sensible and empathetic support on his website, as did many of the listeners in the forum - I try not frequent those spots as I think it's probably bad for someone's head to constantly canvas strangers' ideas of/responses to him, but in this instance and in the interests of curiosity, research, and damage control, I did, and I was surprised and humbled.
Anyway. What else to say? Later this week, we'll be announcing a 6-week US tour around "Brother's Blood" to celebrate its official release. I'm hopeful you'll still buy it, or turn a friend on to it, and I'm hopeful you'll come out and see us when we're in town. But I'm also glad you're listening at all, and hope in these unprecedented and frightening and very real times, the record's provided or will provide some solace, distraction, connection, whatever, because writing and recording and playing it has helped me make sense of the mess a bit and I'd love to be able to share that.
So. To quote another exquisitely unique and beautiful friend, from a song a bunch of you will be listening to and singing and finding relief through this summer: "Whatever comes, whatever comes - let it come."
The new album is good, as in really good, as in TDAGIRIM-good, more full band based than his previous efforts, unquestionably his best work to date, and an easily AOTY contender for me. Love the wordplay in here especially on Brother's Blood, Tomorrow's Just Too Late (which also features Jesse Lacey on vocals). Hope that people would buy this when it's properly released on the 28th of April (which I'll definitely be getting).
We need more people like Kevin Devine in this world. Really excited with what he has in store for us with his next release. In the meantime you could dl his live set from the 2007 Austin Limits below.
RIYL: Jesse Lacey, Andy Hull, Miracle Of '86
Download Live At Austin City Limits 2007:
Kevin Devine's official merch store
Kevin Devine's profile on Favorite Gentleman Records(pre-order the new album here when the time comes)
Cheer Kevin up on his Myspace