The internet has done some good things for music, but it’s also completely destroyed the mystery and magic of waiting for a new album.
It looks like Tom Waits was trying to be cryptic when he posted information to his website regarding his first new material in several years. On Tuesday, the smoky singer’s site read “There have been rumblings and rumors. New music from Tom Waits, you say? Come to TomWaits.com on Tuesday August 23rd, and Mr. Waits himself will set the record straight.”
However, there have been more than just “rumblings and rumors.” Amazon lists a new Tom Waits single, “Bad As Me,” as having a release date of August 23 — the same day you’re supposed to check back for information. It seems one of two things has happened: either someone over at Amazon saw Waits’ post and made an assumption, or they jumped the gun and blew his cover.
The very nature of the internet has pretty much made release dates obsolete anyway. Many highly-anticipated new releases are the victims of some kind of leak, whether it’s one song or the whole album. Bon Iver’s most recent record was briefly posted to iTunes ahead of schedule by accident, prompting hardcore fans to buy it early and share it online, plus Beyonce’s “4″ was leaked early. When Kanye West and Jay-Z’s joint album “Watch the Throne” managed to debut without any unofficial previews it made headlines — though not long before they pulled that off, someone posted an unauthorized version of an unfinished Kanye track, “Mama’s Boyfriend,” on the G.O.O.D. Music site.
While spoilers may not ruin stories, there’s still an element of anticipation and eventual payoff that comes from hearing a whole album for the first time, instead of as a series of leaks and possibly unfinished tracks. There’s a lot of fun in speculating and wondering about an upcoming album you’re really excited about, and that can be ruined if the temptation of knowing a leak is out there grows too hard to resist.
While this isn’t quite the same as leaking an entire album, Amazon has potentially taken one piece of anticipation away from Waits’ hardcore fans. Based solely on the message posted on Tuesday, it wasn’t clear what Waits was going to do on the 23rd. He may have been dropping a single, but he also may have just been making an announcement about the release date or unveiling the title, track list or artwork for a new record. His fans could have had fun speculating for a few days, but now — assuming Amazon is correct — the mystery is gone.