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21 March, 2005

Deadwing delayed again

I don't know about you, but my repeated mentions of the release of Porcupine Tree's forthcoming album 'Deadwing' are boring me!  It's just that the details keep changing, and since I've provided information before, I feel obliged to alert people to amendments.

The UK distributor has set up a 'street team', using the fans as unpaid promoters. I don't especially object to fans being asked to contact radio stations, hand out flyers and post, er, posters, though these are activities I think the record company ought to do themselves. An aspect I do find objectionable is that in order to join the street team one has to provide the record company with full contact details – not just e-mail address but also postal address and both home & mobile phone numbers. If this wasn't a clear enough hint about their intentions, the sign-up page specifies that by joining, one gives the company express permission to contact one about any other bands in future. One of the required duties of street team members is to attend concerts and collect the contact details of audience members, again so that the record company can spam P-Tree fans about other bands.

Needless to say, I'm not participating. I'm happy to help spread the word about P-Tree via this and other sites, without having been asked to do so, but I have no interest in doing the same for other bands which just happen to be on the the same label, and the record company can go **** itself, for all I care.

My evident regard for that company has declined further with the announcement, solely to the street team, that the UK release date of 'Deadwing' will be postponed for a further week, as unexpected demand (it's currently no.7 on Amazon UK's pre-orders chart, for example) means the company want to manufacture more CDs. The revised release date is apparently 4 April. This information comes directly from the record company's street team coordinator, so should be definitive, even though other sources haven't confirmed it.

That there's demand for the album is good news, and I agree that it's more likely that one consolidated release will have an impact on the charts than if shops run out of stock, but this really ought to have been foreseen, and it means the band will be starting their tour before the album is available. Many fans are annoyed, some have resigned from the street team in protest (consequently, the last-minute promo work won't be done) and some have resigned having realised that they, not the record company, are the ones 'on the front line' who'll receive criticism from fans at the concerts.

Update 22/03/05:
The band's official site posted a statement from the record company last night which explained the situation then went on to say that Amazon UK would preferentially receive those copies which are already manufactured, so that pre-orders from that web store would still make the 28 March date, though other retailers would have to wait. The intention was to give those fans planning to attend the first four concerts of the tour (i.e. before 4 April) a chance to hear the album beforehand.
However, the announcement evidently caused a rush on Amazon. 'Deadwing' is now no.2 on the pre-orders chart, and Sales Rank no. 26 (I suspect that might be of all items Amazon sells, not just CDs), and the listed release date has been modified to 4 April, strongly suggesting that the additionally allocated stock has gone too, and that the statement at Porcupinetree.com is already out-of-date – if you haven't already pre-ordered, you're too late to qualify for the 28 March despatch.

One other clarification was that this seems to be UK-only, and the release date in other European nations remains 28 March.

My own view is that this generates even more of a mess. One cohesive assault on the album chart, a week later than expected, makes some sense, but this Amazon initiative will split the sales figures over two weeks, dividing the chart impact.

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