A slightly different Apple tale: of Fiona, and her unreleased third album

New at The Register is my examination of why Sony won’t release Fiona Apple’s completed third album – not even as a digital-only release.

(Fiona Apple, if you don’t recall, is an American singer-songwriter who had some big hits in the late 1990s, with the album “Tidal” and single “Criminal”. Since which, what?)

I came across her unreleased third album while listening to internet radio – and got intrigued enough to try to track down what had happened. It’s a tale that shows that Sony, which wants us so much to buy its Network Walkman gear, is desperately confused about the best way to get new music to us. In the case of this third album, which has been sitting around since 2003, it could be decades before you hear it officially.

Unless, of course, you seek out its BitTorrent site, and grab that. Not that you would, of course.

And did anyone else notice that Sony is fighting on both sides of the MGM vs Grokster case? Yup – it owns MGM, and is a “petitioner” as Sony Music, against Grokster. Yet one of the amicus briefs filed on behalf of Grokster comes from the US’s Consumer Electronics Association – whose members include Sony Electronics. Mixed up? Oh, yeah.


  1. Yeah, that’s the thing about DRM supposedly saving artists from us rampant stealers. Record companies can prevent artists albums from ever being released, if they don’t think it’s commercially viable.

    If everything that record companies thought wasn’t commercially viable never got released, music would be very, very dull.

  2. But of course! How cool would an iTunes Music Store exclusive album be? That would be so cool! I don’t think iTMS has had an exclusive commercial album yet (there was a charity one, I believe), so it’d make history. And it’d be by Fiona Apple. Oooh yeah.

    Guess Sony might not want to give Apple all that, what with the whole “competition” thing. Ah well.

  3. Charles
    I thought your article about Fiona Apple and also the reference to the Long tail very interesting (and sad).

    I also saw this over at CNet today:

    It really shows that these record industry guys just don’t get it (though I would question some of the CNet reporting as well – do they really think Microsoft would like to license Fairplay for instance?).


  4. Finally! 6 months on from your article, Fiona Apple’s third album is released! Charles – if you are a fan, I’m sure you’ll like this album (if you haven’t got it already)!

    It turns out that one of the big campaigns to get it released was the ‘free fiona’ website who petitioned sony to get it released.

    What amazes me more is that Sony have released it on the controversial Dualsdisc format (which cost me 17 for from my local record shop). I’m pretty sure if you want to sell less units then releasing it on a more expensive format is the way to go!

    Related to your article about big music corps embracing t’interweb and digital relases, I’ve noticed an excellent ‘rant’ by a chap called Jyoti Mishra (a musician himself). http://www.bzangygroink.co.uk/wordpress/archives/2005/10/10/the-future-of-music/

    Jyoti has plenty of other energetic discussions about this posted under music on his site – a great chap.