10 September 2008
Music Glue

"Free" isn't free for us!
This page should hopefully give you a detailed explanation of WHY we're giving our new album away on P2P networks - and addresses some of your direct questions.

10th September, 2008 – Today, Marillion become the first band anywhere in the world to release their new album (Happiness Is the Road) legally using P2P (Peer to Peer) internet networks for distribution.

Widely recognised as the first band to truly embrace the Internet’s potential to interact with fans since circa 1996, Marillion have taken the step of partnering with Internet technology company, Music Glue to harness the legal use of P2P sites and release their 15th studio album, Happiness Is The Road.

With more than 90% of all acquired music in the UK being downloaded or shared via P2P websites according to the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), Music Glue’s technology creates a unique interactive band-to-fan interface mechanism that does not normally exist at the point of download.

Having downloaded a song, an interactive window appears on the music fan’s computer with a video message from Marillion speaking directly to the consumer, telling them about their new album, the band’s latest news, the forthcoming Marillion tour and all the products and merchandise available at marillion.com.

Music fans can listen to the track, and have the option to join the email mailing list, allowing access to a DRM-free version of the track.

Marillion in no way condone the use of P2P sites for the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. By giving their consent to distribute Happiness is The Road using the Music Glue model, Marillion are embracing the potential worldwide super-distribution of P2P networks to connect with downloaders, enabling an interactive dialogue rather than having no contact at all with potential new fans.

On adopting this new model for distribution Marillion’s keyboard player Mark Kelly said:

“While we don’t condone illegal file sharing, it’s a fact of life that a lot of music fans do it. We want to know who our file sharing fans are. If they like our new album enough, then we want to persuade them to pay something for it or at least come and see us on tour. Music Glue is the means to achieve this goal, and to give us back something positive from the dire situation most artists find themselves in today”.

Music Glue founder Mark Meharry said:

“Until now, fans that acquire music via P2P networks have been treated as thieves by the global recording industry. From a legal perspective it is difficult to argue in favour of the fans on this issue, however, from a commercial point of view, P2P provides access to more fans, on a global scale, than ever thought possible via traditional distribution methods. If you talk to the young, modern music fan (which we do on a regular basis) they see the situation very differently and believe that they are loyal and financially supportive of the artists they love, by purchasing gig tickets & merchandise, plus they happily consume sponsored branding as part of the overall experience. Music Glue allows creators of music to interact with these fans via P2P in a positive way that actually generates revenue. Our model requires a paradigm shift, away from the traditional legal perspective and forward to commercial common sense.”

Marillion have sold more than 15 million albums in a career spanning three decades and the release of Happiness Is The Road also sees the band embarking on a string of live dates across Europe this autumn.

A Message to our Fans

This email was sent on 9 September 2008 to all fans who have pre-ordered any version of 'Happiness is the Road'


We are writing to let you in on a little secret. This isn't a normal eWeb Newsletter – this is a special private email just to those of you who have pre-ordered our next album.

So let us start with a heart-felt "Thank you!" for pre-ordering "Happiness Is The Road". It means a lot to us that you were willing to give us your money so far in advance of receiving the album and – more importantly – that you put your faith in us. The pre-order concept has become such an integral part of our business: it allows us the creative freedom to make the albums that we want to make without any outside pressure from record companies, also to OWN our music (which is still rather rare these days) AND - crucially - to continue making NEW music.

None of this would be possible without you.

As you read this, your special Deluxe Edition is being manufactured. It's a beautiful thing. It’s also a big project – you’re going to be getting two separate 96-page full-colour hard-bound books, both stored in a single outer case.

The printers, CD manufacturers, and teams of packers expect to have these bundled up and ready to post by the beginning of October (but we’ll announce it officially on the website when we have more information). In short, though, you’re just one step away from holding it in your hands!

Sadly, though, as soon as the album is released to the outside world it will inevitably be leaked onto the internet in some form – as has happened with our last few albums. We are sure you will agree this hurts us as a business and threatens our very livelihood. So, in what is probably a world-wide first, we have decided to take direct control of this situation.

By joining forces with a company called Music Glue we have decided to update the old “beat the bootleggers” approach and leak the album ourselves - but with a twist. Music Glue are able to add a little gizmo to the music files that allows us to 'talk' to the people that are downloading it through file-sharing networks. If existing fans are downloading our music for free, or new fans are discovering our music through file-sharing, at least we will be able to point them in the right direction if they want to buy THE REAL THING from us.

To make sure our special ‘gizmo’ files are the ONLY ones available on the internet, we need to flood file-sharing networks with the special Music Glue versions before anyone anywhere in the world has a copy. And this includes you. As much as we respect your RIGHT to be the first to hear the new music, we do hope you’ll understand why we’ve put all this in place in a rather quiet and secretive manner... We've all agonized over this decision but it couldn’t be done in any other way. The fact is that if WE hadn't leaked it, someone else would have.

Now, we do not condone file-sharing as it directly impacts our ability to continue making new albums (as well as the thousands of other artists out there); but because you put your loyalty and faith in us by pre-ordering, we feel that the least we can do is let you know about our plan - and provide you with this even-more-secret link to download the album if you want to have a listen now: [link removed]

Between you and me, we would advise you against listening to this lower-than-CD-quality version as it may ruin your enjoyment of your first PROPER listen to "Happiness Is The Road".

We like to push the boundaries, try new things, and see where they'll take us. This is just another in a long line of 'internet firsts' for Marillion. But you already know all this - you're "family" - you've pre-ordered the album.

Happiness ain't at the end of the road

H, Ian, Pete, Mark and Steve
PS - Thank you for reading this. Sorry it's so long! We hope you understand.

Your Questions and Our Replies

We have been getting LOADS of supportive emails from the vast majority of fans, and thank you all for your support.

But a lot of you are still a bit confused, and a small number are down-right angry! Mark Kelly has replied to one specific email (the writer of which shall remain anonymous) as it specifically addresses most of the common issues and questions we're getting.

Further below you will also find a selection of other common questions we've been getting, along with our replies. We hope this will help explain in more detail about the "what's" and "why's" of this whole project.

Of course, there are probably MORE questions and concerns you have that aren't answered - we would advise heading over to the Marillion Online Forum at www.marillion.com/forum if you want to join the discussions with other fans - and several members of the band, too!

"Why did you do it?" - Mark Kelly replies to a fan's email:

We were sent the following email from a very upset person (who shall remain nameless) who has already pre-ordered the deluxe campaign edition and I thought it would be a good idea for to put it on the Forum, with answers

Sirs, You spend a year telling us [file sharing is] wrong and then do it yourselves anyway.

It is wrong, but that isn't going to stop people from file sharing as the reality is that something like 90% of all music acquired these days is not paid for. We are attempting to get something positive back from a situation we don't like. We have great fans and a lot of them tell us that they would never file share but our CD sales are in sharp decline and if this continues and we don't find other ways of making money the band will have to stop making music, or at least not be able to spend the time and money we currently do making music. This means our music will suffer. Is that what you want?

Downloads are happening and it's affecting us as much as everyone else in this industry. You only have to look around you to see CD shops are closing and record companies going out of business. We aren't expecting everyone who is currently downloading our music for free to suddenly start paying for it but by finding out who they are we can encourage them to come and see up play or buy something in the future. Music Glue is the means to achieve this.

We paid a year in advance but you're giving it away to everyone BEFORE we even get a copy.

In order for this idea to work it is imperative that we seed the internet with the version we want people to download. To wait until the album is in your hands would be too late. It only takes ONE person to rip the CD and post it to the internet and we would then be trying to compete with an untagged version and many of the downloaders would slip through the net. We agonised over this decision, knowing that some people would see it as a kick in the teeth to our most loyal fans. We tried to tell everyone who Pre-ordered the album about this so if they wanted to, they could download it BEFORE the filesharers, if only a few hours before.

Saying we are giving it away is to not understand the reality of the situation we are in, or the purpose of the project. The album will be available on the internet anyway. People will download it. We can't stop them. Did you know that Anoraknophobia and Marbles were available on the internet weeks before those pre-orders were sent out?

You ask us not to spoil our enjoyment by listening to it. Of course we'll bloody listen to it, we're Marillion fans.

We're not asking you to not listen to it, just pointing out that the quality in not as good as CD. This is your choice. Would you rather we didn't tell you about it at all? After all, if you aren't a file-sharer, the chances are you wouldn't know it was on the internet.

This is a bloody outrage. The most ridiculous, ill-conceived slap-in-the-face you could have come up with. Yeah, great bloody 'secret'.

'm sorry you feel like this but if you have an alternative idea we can try for the next album, please tell us. We called it a secret because we didn't want it to become "public" knowledge straight away. Now the story is all over the news, you can tell who like. Incidentally, the fact that this story is so news-worthy will also help to raise our profile and turn more people onto Marillion.

Please forward this email to the clown who came up with this idea.

You may think it's funny but we are fighting for the survival of Marillion and things will probably get worse before they get better given the current economic climate.

And thanks for ruining the anticipation I had for the new album. What a bloody travesty!

I am really sorry you feel like this but I'm not sure why it's ruined the anticipation. I don't think you'll be disappointed with the album however you choose to listen to it.

"Mr Angry" writes back!

In late October 2008, the original author of the email above contacted us again; we thought it would be good to share his response below!

Hi guys, My Basil Fawlty email, having been held up as an example on m.com and in your email newsletter, is something I'll just have to live with (I was having a bad day - sorry Mark!)... but here's the good bit... I Love The New Album!!!

That's only 15 studio albums I love now. Bloody slack. I think I might complain! See you at Bristol (with my son and two friends) and at Bournemouth (with the girlfriend).

Loadsa lurve, Mr Angry

We're glad it's all worked out in the end!

More Answers and Feedback to your Questions and Comments

As [the new album is] not going to retail, why do the promo copies need to be sent out before the pre-orders? The band aren't meeting a retail deadline to get reviews out as normal, would it matter if review copies didn't go out until after the band had sent out pre-orders?

In theory you are correct but on this occasion we have to send out promos as we have a tour in place that needs the additional advertising and we need the reviews in magazines and press early for that reason. Although this album isn't going into retail in most of the world, we still need to let people know about its release and the tour based around it.

As soon as review copies are sent out (at least six weeks before release) they will be leaked onto file sharing sites. We're not pointing fingers here, it's just the reality of the situation. Everything we've tried from sending out review copies with 'digital watermarks' to streaming the last album for journalists via a password have failed to prevent the album being shared.

We had to seed the Music Glue version before CDs are sent out so when people search for the album on the file-sharing sites our version appears with the most "seeds". The album would have been uploaded to P2P sites anyway, this way there's a chance that at least some of the file-sharers will support the band in some way in the future.

File-sharing is a way of life for some people - Whatever Is Wrong With You was available on file sharing sites 10 minutes after we started the YouTube campaign - and that track was available directly from us FOR FREE!

It is a fight for survival for a band in our position, especially in the current economic climate. We hope this move and the publicity it seems to be generating for the band will enable us to continue making albums for a long time to come. The people who have pre-ordered the new album and everyone who's ever bought music or merchandise from Racket Records have made it possible for us to take the time to craft something very special.

I do not believe what you have done is correct. By this I mean that those of us who have pre-paid for the album should wait longer than those that download the album for free from you. Couldn't you have made a special password for those genuine fans who pre-paid? I very much doubt that most of us would re-release it again online for someone else to copy.

We have already contacted everyone who has pre-ordered the album by private email as we felt it was our obligation to inform them of our plans, because WE believe that if anyone has the right to hear this music first, it is the people who put their hands in their pockets a year ago. It is not an easy decision to make, but there really was no other way to do it.

In the past months we had discussed many ways of letting the pre-order fans know first and also have first access to the music - this was a constant topic of debate, and the most important issue to us.

But an interesting situation at the studio one day resulted in our very own Lucy Jordache actually file-sharing the new album nearly 3 months ago (albeit for about 10 minutes!) when doing some research into file-sharing and various file-sharing programs. This just shows how easy it was to 'accidentally' get the new album onto the internet without even knowing.

For this project to work, we simply could not take ANY chances at all.

It is also worth clarifying the whole purpose of this project, as it does seem to have be over-shadowed. The intention of the project is NOT to "give the album away for free" - this is actually a side effect. The REAL intention is to get in contact with the people who DO file-share and DO get the music for free, and encourage them to buy the album that they are listening to - if we cannot sell our music, then we cannot afford to make more.

The only way to achieve this is to be the FIRST to make the album available for free so that when people who DO normally file-share find the album, the ONLY version they find is our Music Glue version.

The overwhelming majority of our fans respect our rights as the owners of our work to decide who should have it and if they should pay for it. Unfortunately a small few seem determined to undermine our efforts and will share our work on the internet as soon as they can. We don't want this to happen but we accept it does and decided that working with Music Glue might be a way to get something back.

Many people who download music without paying for it don't see that they are doing harm, in many cases they really like the music, or else why would they download it? We want to be able to give them a nudge to pay something for the music or maybe buy something else from us which would help us to continue.