Thursday, January 8, 2009

Open Letter to the Pirate

I have been advised not to talk about this, and I didn't intend to, because I know that doing so will probably worsen the problem. But I have a bad habit of speaking my mind, so here it is:

A few days ago, I woke up to emails from several people alerting me that my album has been leaked, about a month and half before the release date. My heart sank. There's been a grayish tint over every day since. I can be pretty objective, so I scolded myself, "GavCaz, you LOVE leaked albums. You download stuff the minute it gets dropped. For you to be upset about this is very hypocritical." And I thought about that and I found it to be mostly true: I'm a loud proponent of downloading. If I were to be brutally honest, I think music was never meant to be paid for and will one day be free again - as soon as artists have diversified their skills enough to feed themselves through other channels. I'm not concerned about this hurting me financially. So why do I feel sick? Why am I not flattered that someone actually thinks my album is worth leaking? And if my opinion is that downloading HELPS artists instead of hurts them (which it generally is), why am I concerned?

As an artist, my biggest strength (and often times my biggest weakness) is how much thought I put into my music---ironically I find myself thinking a lot about how to make music that sounds less thinky. Every detail of every piece of my work is important to me - every instrument has to work towards the common goal of telling the message of the song, which must be entirely supporting the message of the album: my hi-hat patterns are metaphors, my triangle parts are characters or dramatic devices, etc. Because this album is about (emotional) process, I am extending that signature overthought to the entire process; from my writing over the last 2 years (in this very blog) to the studio videos and the photo shoots, to the album art, and eventually to the films and the websites. And of course the music itself. This project and the message of it will span ALL of my work to date. And for that reason, the girth of it all, it was very important to me that it be paced properly. I don't want you to hear the entire album first. I want to set the scene for the album creation first (through this writing). And then I want you to see the music in micro-pieces (via the videos), so that you can't hear the whole song, but that the music is the marriage of millions of little strange things. Because heartbreak often leads to obsession over idiosyncrasies. And this music is borne from heartbreak. And there are 33 other reasons why I want this to go how I'd planned, but ultimately what I'm saying is, "this project was not tossed together." Even the release date, Friday the 13th of February, is EXTREMELY significant to me.

This is not radio music. I want you to digest it slower and understand each piece of it, if you're willing, because that's the best way for me to connote what a healthy emotional healing process is like: it is a series of tiny revelations. I want you to hear one song a week for a while, so that you can just mull over that song and discover what it is before listening to how it fits into the bigger puzzle. I could digress, but verbalizing this sounds obnoxious to me, so I'll just say: this is not a normal record. Its biggest enemy will be the short attention span. The reason I think my upset is justified even when I'm guilty of downloading other leaks is because, unlike most records, this album has everything to do with the media leading to and from it and is strengthened and given impact and longevity from the lengthy process of its own release. And now someone who has never met me, and never considered the ramifications of what they think is an "album liberation," and, above all has no respect for my process, has decided to throw a bucket of black paint across my colorful canvas, forcing me to ask you to ignore it. Thanks, guy (or girl).

I have never waited to release an album in my life. It has been excruciating to make what is my best work to date and not release it for six months. The only solace was knowing that those who trust and invest in me as an artist would get something that will effect them deeper and longer than anything I've ever done. Because that's what my breakup did to me, and that's what I think art is made for.

I could also write a book explaining that this is the first of my solo albums that has a paid promotional team behind it and when you are an unknown artist of my stature playing music that doesn't bear a resemblance to TV On The Radio, the only chance you have of getting any mainstream exposure in this country is to create a critical mass of buzz from what little fan base and promotional tools you have. The idea is to centralize listeners around your release date in hopes that enough people will be talking about the record at once to grab the attention of the press and radio industry that does not usually scout (let alone tout) artists in my tax bracket. By releasing my album early, this person has fogged up the lens that Five One Inc., the only label willing to put its money behind my music, has been struggling to focus day and night for the past six months. This pirate is greatly hurting the label's (again, the ONLY label willing to help me do what I do) chances of garnering publicity for the most important record of my life.

To those that have downloaded the record: I'm glad you enjoy it. I hope you'll contribute to my work in some way so that I can someday afford health insurance. Please reserve any comments until after my release date so I can just stop thinking about this.
To those that are going to leave this page and do a torrent search for it: who raised you?
To those that don't know what a torrent is, forget I said anything.


waytoomuch said...

I have felt very sorry while reading this "open letter"

when you start to think spesific names in person, you normally feel guilty for listening music without paying anything. but to be honest, music is sound, and even if it sounds utopic, you shouldn't pay money to hear something. even if there's a big work behind it, ideal thought is this for me.
i'm not saying this to underrate your work or anything, i came across your music today through purevolume and i really liked it. it is outstanding. that's why it lead me here somehow.
i hope your album achieves the success it deserves and i am sure it will no matter if it was heard before the release date. actually maybe you could change your point of view and think that those who love you and your work is after your album and will surely appreciate it. those who accidentally downloaded it and never listened to you before will either like you and learn more about you - this is fine - or they'll just put your album in some various artist folder and never click on your songs. and if that's gonna happen, still no problem, cause they're not the ones you try to communicate with.
i do not support pirate, i just support free music. this doesn't mean that artist should not earn any money from their work, they sure do. but there must be other solutiouns or they must be created by the professionals.

by that time, you are right on your side, and others are right on theirs.



Cory said...

"It's biggest enemy will be the short attention span." I agree with that 100 percent. While downloading has been good to people like me who can't get a sniff from record labels, my fear is that it's killed (or will kill) the album, as an art form. If one of my songs is shuffling with other pop songs on someone's ipod, that's great! At least they're listening. But if I had a choice, I'd rather my music be more than background noise for jogging, cleaning, VACUUMING! I had a woman once tell me that she listened to my album every time she vacuumed! Can you even hear the music?!

As far as pirates go, they usually get their's. 'Cause from my experience, half the time torrent = Big scary virus. It sucks. I hope the leak doesn't do too much harm.

Anonymous said...

WOW, I can't wait for the 13th! I am going to buy two copies (as I usually do) Sorry this has happened, you sound very hurt.

Justin said...

Gavin, I don't know how many people I am speaking for, but I know that I am extremely excited for the release of this album. I've only been sneak-peeking based on your parameters (videos and myspace posts).

I have always enjoyed being able to watch your process and vision unfold, so thank you for the posts and blogs.

Good luck with the health insurance, I know your struggle.

Man-Made Mammon said...

That's really horrible.

Not that you would want to name names, but for an essentially independent artist like yourself, at what point is the finished record just floating around unprotected. Is it review copies?

I mean, I always perceive a lot of leaks as "viral marketing", but it doesn't seem like Five One (or you, clearly) would have anything to benefit from such half-assed tactics.

Maren B said...

That sucks, Gavin. I'm sorry.

Bad form, Pirate Jerk.

John said...

My gut reaction was to download it, not going to lie. Then I was going to buy it when it comes out or so I would like to make myself believe. I will resist temptation, but like you I have been waiting for this to drop.

Matthew said...

I've been rockin' the GavCaz tunes for 5 years now. I drove 200 miles from Reno to see the MySpace show in Modesto at the Fez Lounge 3 years ago and bought every piece of merch I could when I was there. I for sure will buy the album on Friday the 13th and continue to create a buzz and a fanbase here in Reno, Nevada. Keeping my eyes peeled for another West Coast Tour. The 'Nothing Compares' cover is EPIC! Thanks Gavin.

Conor said...

I've been telling anyone who knows good music about your upcoming cd release as the one I'm waiting for this year. And I'm working on keeping myself from visiting the myspace to make sure I haven't overlistened to any of the songs by the time the cd comes out.

Your enemy right now is going to be impatience. The album would most likely be destined to be released as a torrent when after the release, and the people who would rather download than buy it are not the people you would worry about now. The concern is for the people, myself included, on their toes for Feb 13. Those in that group who can't keep it in their pants and need to hear it now will hopefully like it enough to want to soak in every bit of it by buying it.

Personally, this isn't the kind of music I would want to listen to compressed, anyway. There's far too much attention to detail. It's not distortioned power chord cookiecut music and shouldn't be treated as such. Hopefully people have the reason to feel the same.

Lorna said...

Well, here I thought I was opening a delightful letter to Sage, who has claimed his stake in the Carribean since he turned four, and found this travesty instead. I'm sorry someone has leaked. It wasn't me, though I am very proud of what you have done. I'm anxious to see the interview you did with Pure Volume-mom said you were on the cover. I'm making plans with some friends to see your show at the Doug Fir on Jan 29th. Eric says that's a great venue and we're ooking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm still going to buy it even though i downloaded it. It deserves to be paid for and a label that actually recognizes unique talent as opposed to signing on a multitude of flavors of the month and hoping something sticks is something everyone should put their wallets behind. I'll wait till the 13th to listen to it again now that I've read this and really digest it slowly since I'm a real believer that music is so much more than something you passively listen to in the background. Don't ever stop making music Gavin.

Jaysun Kohler said...

pfft, pirates.

i really like how the story is slowly coming together the way you're releasing it. Swell idea man. Very swell.

Anonymous said...

That's terrible!!! When I first saw the torrent I thought you may have uploaded it yourself, obvisiously that isn't the case. But I went to mininova and reported two of the torrents... Hopefully it will help.

p.s. Can't wait for the cd!

The Awesome Parts said...

Someone actually told me that you leaked it yourself, so I downloaded it. I'm not going to listen to it though, it's not even unzipped! I'll buy it first. I would be so angry Gavin! You're taking this well, and expressing yourself more eloquently than anyone would expect someone in your situation. What I've heard (of Home) is incredible though.