When Wilco fans woke up Wednesday (May 13), the web was already abuzz with chatter about the Chicago based band -- namely, the group's seventh album "Wilco (The Album)" had leaked. The band responded by immediately streaming it in its entirety from their own wilcoworld.net website, something the group has done with its past three albums.
While the loss of potential revenue is hard to determine at this point, since the street date is June 30, the band has a plan for that too. "We also have our usual guilt abatement plan for downloaders," Wilco wrote in a emailed statement to its mailing list. "If you have downloaded the record, we suggest you make a donation to one of the band's favorite charities, the Inspiration Corporation- an organization we've supported in the past & who are doing great work in the city of Chicago."
"We've seen a spike in online donations, and are hoping for a sustained bump in giving from Wilco fans," says John Pfeiffer, Executive Director & CEO of Inspiration Corporation.
"It's just part of the general game plan. We send it out, it leaks, we stream it, we proceed," Wilco's publicist, Deb Bernardini tells Billboard.com. Through this leak and stream process, Wilco could potentially benefit from the massive spike in web chatter that album received. In November 2008, the band saw a similar jump in web buzz when they released a free, collaborative single with Fleet Foxes, covering Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released."
According to Nielson's Blogpulse, the term "Wilco" accounted for a little more than .03% of all blog topics being discussed throughout the day. And in the 2 p.m. EST hour, Wilco had become a top ten trending topic on Twitter. Twitscoop.com, a web-based client and statistical tracker of Twitter trends, tracked Wilco in that same hour as having at least 1.5 tweets per minute about the band. "To give a little perspective, about 0.25% of tweeters were talking about Wilco at the peak of the buzz," Pierre Stalislav, co-founder of Lollicode/Twitscoop tells Billboard.com. "This is huge, even if the percentage looks tiny.
"It's definitely made more than a blip in private sharing communities," says Joe Fleischer, Chief Marketing Officer of Big Champagne, a monitoring service of the file sharing world. "It was the primary topic of discussion and most popular of the week. It doesn't have a huge amount of downloads so far; Wilco being more of a niche artist than U2, the numbers aren't quite comparable. But there's a lot of excitement."
In terms of detracting would-be downloaders, Fleischer doesn't see the streaming efforts as having that effect. "It doesn't seem to abate downloading all that much," he says. "But it seems to be best intentioned as a nod to the fans and a nod to convenience. In terms of building excitement, the private sharing communities seem to adore Wilco."
Such is good news for Wilco's label Nonesuch, who also responded by launching a pre-order campaign via Nonesuch.com, where customers could order the CD for $16 or a CD+LP combo for $19. A representative from Nonesuch reported "a good spike" in traffic; Wilco's own website garnered nearly 100,000 hits yesterday alone due to its streaming efforts.