So as every single one of you probably know, a little over a week ago, we did something crazy and hosted a stream of some new Guns N’ Roses songs we got our hands on. It started the biggest shitstorm any of us have ever been a part of. Last week, TIME Magazine devoted a whole page to the story, Rolling Stone Magazine mentioned me by name, and a million other news outlets have reported variations of the story, ranging from basically accurate to completely absurd. I’d like to defend a few allegations, and correct a few misinterpretations.
First of all, I was very selective about who I talked to about this story. The list is short: Joel Stein of TIME / LA Times, Andy Greene at Rolling Stone, Eliot Van Buskirk at Wired. I also sent a few brief emails to Maura at Idolator. I did a brief live interview, talking shit with Stretch of Maxim Radio, on Sirius Friday morning, and I did a live interview with Martin Stanford of Sky News in the UK. And finally, I did an email interview with UK industry insider magazine Record Of The Day, which I’ll post here next week. Also, with the exception of Maura, all of these people reached out to me first. I was not sending out press releases.
Any part of this story told by anyone not on this list should be taken as speculation or hearsay.
Second, let me clarify why we did it. If we posted an article simply stating that we had new Guns N’ Roses songs, there’s no chance in hell that anyone would believe it. Roughly two weeks prior to our little stunt, I posted an editorial entitled Crying Chinese Democracy, where I warned that not only would no one believe any marketing, promotion, or even rumors, until they saw or heard it, but that it would eventually slip out onto the internet anyway (as anyone would have reasonably predicted). And I theorized that it would be irrelevant either way; leak or no leak, I said that the only way the album would be a net success would be if the music was good enough to move units for years to come. I am right, and I’m confident that in time, my actions and their commercial repercussions (or lack thereof) will help prove it.
The most quoted piece was the most sensational one; the Rolling Stone article. I’ve got nothing against Andy Greene, but he’s a reporter, and he did his job and pulled the best story he could out of all that I told him. Here’s a couple less exciting, but more accurate ways he could have told the story:
I was quoted as referring to the first FBI visit as “kind of an ambush.” The truth is, the two FBI Special Agents were very discreet, and no one at my office even knew who they were or who they were there for, until I told them after in a brief, private heads-up. I was quoted as saying that it was “creepy” that they knew where I worked. I’m not an idiot, my resumé is easily found online and they’re the fuckin’ FBI. Andy was asking me silly things like “wasn’t that creepy, that they knew where you worked?” And if I said, “kinda, but…” he took it as a yes. Furthermore, not that Rolling Stone contradicted this, but to be clear, I invited them to my apartment the following day, picking the time myself, and gave them the files they were after. They didn’t bust in and raid my shit. Both encounters were mutually respectful.
No big deal. But I wanted to clarify that.
The only part that bothered me was when he quoted me as saying “it’s a legal grey area since it wasn’t for download.” I swear I’m not that ignorant. I’ve worked in the music industry, and I wouldn’t be so naïve. There were many questions about legal ramifications over the course of a few phone conversations, and I never had any clear answers. In one of the last ones, I had said who knows, it might be a grey area given that they weren’t up for download (what makes streaming different than unauthorized radio broadcasts?) …And as for ownership, the way I understand it is that while it was Axl’s lawyers that contacted me, it’s the record label that actually owns the recordings. I could be wrong, but I never claimed to be sure one way or the other, and I won’t now.
Joel Stein is a much better writer than Andy Greene, and as such his piece managed to be much more entertaining without the need for sensationalism. He told the story of a chance encounter with my girlfriend that brought us all together, mostly from his perspective. His editor cut a few important but boring paragraphs on the music industry, which I hope to get my hands on and post here at some point in time… But I expected that. Aside from a couple over-simplifications, I completely approve of the TIME story.
I’d like to recognize the guys at Wired for reporting the story responsibly and as accurately as possible. I’ve always been a big fan of Wired. I think I’ll finally subscribe, like I’ve been meaning to.
And Martin Stanford at Sky is awesome.
I originally reported that the tracks were “mastered, finished” versions. After one listen, compared to everything that had come before, I thought they were. Listening closer, some tracks sound like they could be, some not so much. I apologize for that assumption.
Many news outlets are alleging that the songs were given to me by either the record label, or the band’s management, and that it was all part of a publicity stunt to drum up hype for Chinese Democracy. Undercover goes so far as to doubt my very existence. Which I of course find hilarious. While I acknowledge that this has been the most believable and legitimate publicity the album could have possibly gotten after so many false alarms, I assure you that there’s no collusion. How fucked would that be, if they slipped me the album to leak, and then sent the FBI to mess with me?
I’ve been asked if my legal troubles are over. The answer is that they haven’t begun. I’ve only been questioned thus far. Any day now, I could get served with papers. All I can do in the meantime is hope for the best, and get back to business as usual here on Antiquiet. We’ve rocked this boat enough, and we’re moving on, God willing. This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.