In what is becoming something of an unfortunate tradition, Wilco’s new Nonesuch album, “Sky Blue Sky,” has leaked online, more than two months prior to its May 15 release date.
The group’s 2002 album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” was online for nine months before it was eventually released in stores, and 2004’s “A Ghost Is Born” also hit the Internet well before street date. In the latter instance, Wilco fan site Justafan.org asked fans who had downloaded the album early to donate money to Doctors Without Borders, a fund which eventually grew to $15,000.
“There’s probably some good argument to be made that it will prevent a few people from buying the record,” Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy told Billboard yesterday (March 8) at the band’s Chicago loft. “But there’s also the idea that I believe is true for us, which is, it’s people listening to our music.”
“We feel very proud of our record and we want people to hear it. Ultimately, that’s the goal,” he continued. “I think most people will do the right thing and support us and buy the record, even if they have downloaded it.”
“Frankly, I would like to have people get a head start on knowing the material before we come to whatever town they live in,” bassist John Stirratt added with a laugh.
To stem the tide, the group will stream “Sky Blue Sky” from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. ET this Sunday (March 11) on its official Web site.
“We’ve always viewed the whole thing as similar to radio,” Wilco manager Tony Margherita tells Billboard. “We were prepared for it to leak as soon as the first advance CD went out. That’s just part and parcel of the deal. As with previous records, our plan was and is to give people another way to hear the record besides the download, since these often sound like crap and are a pain in the ass for people who don’t have a lot of time or are not super tech-savvy.”
Wilco will get busy on the road beginning April 16 in Brisbane, Australia.