I was hesitant to write about this here as I didn’t want to bring attention to the fact that the Alphabeat album has leaked, but I’m just too annoyed about the whole situation to keep quiet about it. Alphabeat have moved onto a new label, one that even has the same name as their biggest hit, and I thought things would run smoothly from here. They came back with a brilliant single, and the fact that the change in sound probably wasn’t the best move in terms of retaining fans of the first album, made me all the more confident that this label were in full support of the band. So why have they just allowed thousands of Alphabeat’s UK fans to download the album for free?
Since the album has already been released in Denmark, it can’t be argued that it’s not ready. I understand that the label must have seen The Spell’s slightly underwhelming chart performance and decided to release another single before the album, but whoever made this decision was obviously living in the 90s. Did they really think the fans wouldn’t find out that the album was out already in Denmark? The music industry MUST recognise that as soon as an album is released in one territory, it will be uploaded online and will be available to anyone interested within days of release. This means that they have to release the album simultaneously in all territories where it is expected to sell well, or they will lose thousands of pounds worth of revenue, and the chance of Alphabeat being able to release another album in any country except for Denmark becomes less and less likely.
Instead, The Spell album won’t be out until next year, a date so far off that you can’t blame even the biggest fans for being impatient. I haven’t downloaded it myself, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a physical copy of the Danish album soon. It’s depressing that people who are barely interested in Alphabeat are getting to hear my most anticipated album of the year before I am, but I don’t want my first experience of that album to be thanks to some crappy blog that barely even bothers to write one sentence about the band when they deprive them of their very well deserved royalties.
It may well have been the case, if The Spell had not been such a hit in Denmark, that a second single release before the album release would have increased the number sold in the first week. But who cares about first week sales or album chart positions? It’s not like the new album has much to live up to. I’m not sure if their debut ever even bothered the top 10. However, it sold well as time went on and eventually went gold. If the new album had been released this week, it could well have done the same, with positive reviews building its reputation among pop fans with each single that came out. Instead, it will probably slump into the lower end of the top 40, selling only to those fans who either have immense patience or don’t realise it’s been available for free online for months already.
I think Alphabeat are an amazing pop band, one of the best in the world, so I’m not being unkind to have low expectations of their album’s success. I’m just being realistic – when the first single release only goes in at no.20, you don’t want to risk losing any album sales, but by moving back the album release date they will be losing a huge number of them. One site I saw had taken down the link to download the album after noticing that 2,500 people had downloaded it. A wake up call for that blogger perhaps, as to how much damage they were actually doing, especially in the case of less famous bands like Alphabeat.
It’s not just the band that lose out, but the label themselves, who will probably end up earning less money from Alphabeat than they’ve spent on them, and the UK fans, who may be unable to buy the third Alphabeat album from a shop at all, let alone at the same time as the Danish fans. I have confidence that Alphabeat will continue as a band for many years to come, because they are so full of great ideas, have the perfect pop attitude, and have a very strong fanbase, but a second album can really decide the future for a band. I’m afraid to say that this mishap may well mean that The Spell is the last Alphabeat single we hear on Radio 1 or see on T4. The charts are going to be very dull without them.