Saturday 18 November 2017

Jay - Z and Kanye beat the leak

TOP SECRET: Kanye West and Jay-Z went to extreme measures to stop their album leaking
TOP SECRET: Kanye West and Jay-Z went to extreme measures to stop their album leaking

Niall Byrne

It's the biggest destination for music on the internet and YouTube has finally recognised that fact with the launch of a dedicated music section.

The revamped now shows you recommended videos and artists based on existing videos you are watching, a list of upcoming local concerts using Songkick gig data and the most relevant music chart of all, a YouTube top 100 for the week highlighting the songs that are being watched globally (Nicki Minaj's Super Bass currently sits on top).

In the coming weeks, YouTube is teaming up with curators such as Vice magazine, SPIN, XLR8R and music vloggers including The Needle Drop to offer daily playlists for further exploration. YouTube have promised these services before, but this music transformation is their most complete yet.

One video sitting high in the YouTube chart is Kanye West and Jay-Z's Otis from the Watch The Throne album. The album broke the iTunes one-week sales record with 290,000 downloads in a week. As outlined by Billboard (, this feat was made possible by the extraordinary measures the duo put in place to ensure that the album DID NOT leak.

Yeezy and Hova decided to release the album via iTunes only in digital format first. Only after the album debuted on August 8 was the album sent to the manufacturing process, removing the chance that a leak would have taken place at that stage. No advance listens of the album were offered to journalists or press. The only way to hear the album in advance was to have been a part of it or to have attended the invite-only listening party at the American Museum of Natural History in New York a week before.

The recording of the album was done with extreme security in mind. No traditional recording studios were used in the making of Watch The Throne. Instead, hotel rooms in Paris, New York and Sydney were used as the base of operations. Wi-fi was strictly forbidden lest some hackers got wind of goings on. The music recorded was kept on password-protected external hard drives that were kept in a briefcase belonging to one of the studio engineers Noah Goldstein, that could only be opened by biometric fingerprint technology.

Producers such as RZA, No ID and Q-Tip were required to demo their beats in person. At no point were tracks emailed. Everything resided on the same hard drives until it was delivered to iTunes the Friday before release, August 5.

Highlighting the extreme measures undertaken, the album's art director Virgil Abloh tweeted that Goldstein has been "sleeping with the hard drives for like 10 months straight".

That is what it takes these days to ensure that an album from a high-profile artist makes it to sale without pre-release leaks. Jay-Z and Kanye were rewarded for their efforts in sales, but fans also benefited from the old-school feelings of excitement and anticipation when the album finally dropped.

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