The Seattle Times has put together a lengthy article on the phenomenon of leaking music, often months before the album is due out to retail.
It not only examines the circumstances of the leaks, using some particularly high profile releases like The Shins' Wincing the Night Away, but also the many things labels do to try to keep the genie in the bottle for just a few more weeks until retail.
What is most surprising though, is what appears to be a sense of entitlement among music fans, many of whom both justify and participate in both the leaking and downloading:
I have justified it by going to live shows when the band is in town. More money goes directly to the artist that way, where they maybe get $1 for any record sale. But it's still wrong. It's still stealing.
Conversely, many artists – particularly new ones – are offering support for leaks, saying:
If the record stinks, people are going to hear it and say, 'I'm not going to buy that,' For good records, though, they could get a higher profile. You're not going to get noticed if you hold back and are paranoid about your work.
You can find the article here.
Do you download leaks?