While there is a great history of record companies uploading false tracks to huge file sharing
programs (such as Kazaa
) to stop downloaders from pirating
new material from an artist before it goes on sale, one of my personal favorites is the story of "The Meowstro Sings Guster's Keep It Together."
In the Spring of 2003, fans of Guster, a great, original and rockin' three-piece band out of Boston, were eagerly anticipating their long overdue follow-up to their 1999 masterpiece Lost and Gone Forever. They had been playing some of the new songs for awhile live, and the names of the songs that were to appear on the new album were known by most of their fan base. Meaning that eventually, people were going to try to sneak an early listen at their album to be released in June, titled Keep it Together.
So, instead of leaking a bunch of re-titled tracks on Kazaa that were just old Guster songs or simply annoying static, Guster's monitor engineer Matt Peskie did some editing to the albums twelve tracks. He left the instrumentation and the backing vocals, yet recorded himself meowing over the lead vocal track. The tracks were all released to Kazaa on May 6th, 2003 and successfully deterred the piracy of the album, but not without upsetting some fans in the process.
Keep it Together was finally released on June 24th, 2003, debuted at #35 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawned two singles, "Amsterdam" and "Careful" that enjoyed mixed success on Top 40 radio.
During summer touring for "Keep it Together" the guys in Guster realized that fans had grown a rather strong appreciation for the twelve hilarious tracks that featured Matt Peskie meowing. Thus, on September 9th, 2003, an album titled "The Meowstro Sings Guster's Keep It Together" went up for sale on Guster's website, and oddly enough, sold quite well.
While I'll always curse evil record company executives whenever I myself try getting a sample of an album that hasn't yet been released and end up hearing a song I've heard a million times already, at least every now and then a great story such as the story of "The Meowstro Sings Guster's Keep It Together" can come from the act (the art?) of deterring piracy.