Lady Gaga’s new single Applause may have leaked ahead of its official release on 19 August, but her famously-fervent fanbase is leading the battle to keep the song under wraps. A campaign by fans from Gaga’s Little Monsters website has encouraged the community to report any site spotted distributing or linking to leaked snippets of the single to her label, Universal Music.
Nearly 2,500 fans have retweeted a link to Universal’s takedown page, with one fan boasting of having notified the label about 500 infringing links in a single evening. It’s a turnaround from the usual nature of such leaks, where fans eagerly share the links, and labels if they choose to respond file a barrage of takedown notices to blogs and search engines.
Applause will be the first single from Gaga’s upcoming album ARTPOP, with a carefully-planned campaign planned to release the single on the same day that the album (and its spin-off app) will be available to pre-order. Gaga herself seemed initially upset by news of the leak, tweeting “Lord, in HEAVEN WHY” and “YOU JUST COULDNT WAIT THIS IS TOO MUCH FOR ONE SATURDAY”, before appearing to see the funny side and inviting fellow leakee Katy Perry to “grab some shovels and [expletive] up some hackers”.
Such leaks seem inevitable in the modern music industry, though, with few new releases of any note escaping an unexpectedly-early debut. Even Kanye West saw his Yeezus album leak early in June, mere hours after BuzzFeed published an 8 Reasons You Won’t Hear Yeezus Early article celebrating his notoriously-strict pre-release piracy precautions.
Gaga’s objections to the Applause leak are more likely to be artistic rather than commercial. Sales of the single are unlikely to be hurt, but music blogs passing judgement on the track from a few brief snatches seems to have touched a nerve.“Dont focus on ANY blogger criticism. I have been a producer/songwriter/musician for over 10 years. Trust the artist, bloggers are not critics,” she tweeted on Sunday.
Gaga’s official pre-release plans for ARTPOP, which is due to come out on 11 November, are unclear. It’s now common for big albums to be streamed online for up to a week before their release, with Apple among the keenest companies to secure exclusives. iTunes has hosted pre-release streams of new albums by David Bowie, Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake already this year, but streaming services like Spotify and Rdio, and media including Pitchfork, NPR Radio and The Guardian have all been in the mix for similar deals.
The availability of the ARTPOP app before the album’s release may be a hint that Lady Gaga and Universal intend to host their own pre-release stream for fans, however.