The first men and women to leak music used to hide it in their pants. Around the turn of the century, major new releases would hit the internet before the shops because people were boosting physical copies from pressing plants, and setting them free. The plants would try to play defense, but there were always ways to work around security. In 2015, The New Yorker recounted common practice at one infamously leaky North Carolina plant: “Tuck [the disk] into your waistband; cinch your belt so tight it hurts your bladder; position your oversized belt buckle in front of the disk; cross your fingers as you shuffle toward the turnstile.”
In the years since, leaking has evolved, and swarmed. Not content with crashing the music industry into an existential panic — the reverberations of which are still being felt today — leaking has crept into so many more aspects of our lives: our televised mass entertainment, our politics, our bedrooms. This week, The FADER takes a wide look at the impact and importance of leaks in the music industry and beyond.
We'll reminisce about some of our favorite track leaks and explore Kanye's strange relationship to leaks and chat about Jai Paul and the mysterious case of his leaked "debut." We'll hear directly from a woman who had her nudes leaked and fought back; we'll learn the secret story of the leaked FADER cover. And we'll think about government leaks across the Atlantic, from the massive ones that may well shake up the British election to the piddling ones that seem to drip out of the White House every other day.
Throughout, we'll explore our understanding of what a leak is, what is should be, what it can be. And we'll remember just how far the leak has come from the days of trouser-based thievery. This is Leak Week.