Album not compatible with iTunes or iPods.
The Sept. 13 release of Switchfoot’s anticipated new CD “Nothing Is Sound” (Columbia/Sparrow) earned the band its highest Billboard 200 chart position with first-week sales of 131,000 copies, debuting at No. 3. But this week, as Nielsen SoundScan reports sales of another 46,000 units (No. 18 on the Top 200), EMI CMG has issued a recall of the Sparrow-manufactured CDs due to a mistake in the settings for the content protection technology placed on the CD.
The controversial technology, now appearing on a rapidly growing number of Sony BMG and EMI CDs, was to limit the number of physical and digital copies consumers could make of the new Switchfoot CD. But according to Leigh Ann Hardie, VP of strategic initiatives and publicity for EMI CMG Label Group, “incorrect setting were used during the CD’s mastering process which inadvertently bars the consumer from making burns or digital copies – a result that was not intended.”
The recall follows a week in which Switchfoot member Tim Foreman made headlines by voicing his opinion and publicly apologizing to fans on the band’s Web site after Columbia released “Nothing Is Sound” with content protection. When complaints began to surface from CD purchasers who were frustrated with attempting to import the songs into programs such as iTunes (the content protection technology uses Microsoft’s Windows Media software, which is not compatible with iTunes or iPods), Foreman expressed his own frustrations.
“My heart is heavy with this whole copy-protection thing,” he said on Switchfoot’s message boards. “We were horrified when we first heard about the new copy protection policy that is being implemented by most major labels, including Sony, and immediately looked into all of our options for removing this from our new album…. It is heartbreaking to see our blood, sweat and tears of the past two years blurred by the confusion and frustration surrounding this new technology.”
Foreman then proceeded to provide instructions on how the copy protection could be bypassed so that consumers who wished to import songs into iTunes could do so. “I feel like as a band and as listeners, we’ve all been through a lot together over the past ten years, and we refuse to allow corporate policy to taint the family we’ve developed together.”
Columbia/Sony has not commented publicly on Foreman’s actions, but his post has now been removed from the band’s message boards, which are housed on Sony’s site.
Sparrow has remanufactured its “Nothing Is Sound” discs with a corrected version of the copy protection technology, and is allowing consumers the opportunity to exchange their CDs at the point of original purchase. To date, “Nothing Is Sound” has sold 121,000 copies through general-market retail outlets and nearly 57,000 through Christian retail venues.
The Switchfoot CD was EMI CMG’s first title to use the content protection technology, but EMI has been testing several types of the technology on new releases in various territories around the world, including the United States. “In an age where piracy of music is rampant, incorporating this technology into new releases is a reasonable and necessary step to protect artists, songwriters, producers, retailers and all others that rely on music sales,” Hardie told Billboard.biz.