February 14, 2014 at 10:59 am

De La Soul Makes Music Free in Valentine’s Day Copyright End Run

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The hip-hop trio De La Soul is back with a big, free music promotion on the 25th anniversary of its landmark Three Feet High and Rising album. Today, Valentine’s Day, the group is offering all of their albums as free downloads. Just check the boxes and subscribe a real email address to a newsletter, and they’re yours.

You can’t hear De La Soul’s most beloved albums on Rdio or Spotify, or even buy them in iTunes, due to sample clearance and label issues, as noted by Engadget. But what De La Soul can do, legally, is make an end run around the copyright squabbling and give the music away — and why not on Valentine’s Day, the silver anniversary of their most widely-beloved album?

“It’s about allowing our fans who have been looking and trying to get a hold of our music to have access to it,” Posdnuos told Rolling Stone. “It’s been too long where our fans haven’t had access to everything. This is our way of showing them how much we love them.”

The group is working on one album called You’re Welcome (no release date), and another top secret project that Posdnuos said he wished he could talk about.

So wait, there’s nothing for sale right now? You just enter your email and download up to all seven of their albums today, February 14, 2014 (you have until Saturday at noon ET)? That’s right.

This is a great way for De La Soul to get heard again, but it’s also a page right out of the app developers’ playbook.

The standard practice is to make an app free every once in a while to send it rocketing up the charts and get more users. Once people are playing it and paying attention to it, developers simply switch the price back to $1.99 or whatever it was, and hope to eke out a bit more sales revenue. There’s nothing wrong with it, and if you have good timing, you can get lots of amazing stuff for free. (We’ve tracked a handful of these sales in the past, under the Bargain Alert tag.)

In De La Soul’s case, it didn’t a choice, because selling or even putting these albums on Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, and elsewhere would cause legal problems until all of those samples are cleared. But the effect is similar — a free giveaway resulting in a lots of attention, which can hopefully then end up in a few more sales and plays when the group does release something that can be played on the internet (other then on YouTube, which has looser rules — listen below).

Instead of letting Apple or another big retailer or service handle this free promotion, the way Daft Punk did to astounding effect, contributing to its eventual victory at the Grammy Awards, De La Soul is handling the whole thing on its own — the website is registered to David Jolicoeur, a.k.a. De La Soul’s Trugoy The Dove. That means instead of iTunes getting the email addresses, the way it did with Daft Punk, De La Soul gets to use them to promote whatever music it’s going to release later.

There’s another side effect, of course; Rolling Stone, OK Player, ourselves, and 49,500 other Google News search results are writing about De La Soul for the first time in a while. Of course, there’s nowhere for anyone to buy the music today, but it’s something.

To get these albums today, go here now. It might be your last chance for a while.

  • http://listenfree.musict.net/ Listen Free Music

    There’s nothing wrong with it, and if you have good timing, you can get lots of amazing stuff for free.