Earth to Sony – reality is a nice place

Yeah… it’s the P2P networks that are killing the music industry:

Cory Doctorow: A Fiona Apple album that Sony decided not to release has become a hit online in underground file-sharing circles, traded by fans who are begging Sony to release the disc so that they can buy it instead of downloading it.

“Extraordinary Machine” is an album that Apple finished over two years ago, but which was quickly shelved by the sad corporate drones over at Sony because they didn’t “hear a single” and because it doesn’t sound exactly like Norah Jones and because they’re, well, corporate drones. They dictate cultural tastes based on relatively narrow and often deeply ignorant criteria related to marketing and money and fear of the new and the different. This is what they do…

And fans have been whipping the tracks into high-quality MP3s and splaying them all over the Net, and Rolling Stone and MTV and other media have picked up on the odd story, noting how fans are calling into the station like mad and most everyone loves the songs and protest Web sites like freefiona.com (alongside dedicated fan sites like fionaapple.org) have popped up to try and get some action and yet Sony refuses to actually release the album and the corporate drones remain mum and everyone’s wondering just what the hell’s going on.

Has Sony been responsive? Nope. In fact, there’s been enough time for fans to create their own Web site (FreeFiona.com) to help push Sony. From the FAQs on the site:

 Why hasn’t Sony/Epic released the album? Fiona Apple finished recording Extraordinary Machine in May of 2003, but Sony/Epic executives did not think it would sell enough copies to justify the cost of promoting and distributing it. Rather than spend more money, Sony/Epic decided to cut their losses and not release the album at this time.
Why does Sony/Epic think her new album won’t sell? Didn’t her last two albums go platinum? Yes, Tidal and When the Pawn… are both RIAA certified platinum in the United States. Sony Music recently replaced chairman and CEO Tommy “Love ya, baby!” Mottola with former NBC president Andrew Lack, a businessman with no prior music experience. He immediately shifted Sony Music’s focus to pop and hip-hop acts that are traditionally bigger sellers. The master recordings of Extraordinary Machine were sent to a warehouse, where they remain to this day.
How can I help? Send something with an apple theme – a fake apple, a photo OF an apple, a piece of paper with an apple sticker, a sketch of an apple, even an apple pie – be creative! – to Andy Lack at Sony with a note attached. You can write a real letter or just scribble “Free Fiona!” on the envelope – whatever you want.

Can you say old school, traditional business, 1980 thinking?

Why not just work with the iTunes Music Store, Napster, or any other music service to put it up digitally? The damn album is done for crying out loud, and it earns nothing sitting on the shelf. Is this, perhaps, why Sony is having financial trouble?