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I Had To Buy A $1,200 Plane Ticket To Get Mariah Carey’s New Album, And It’s All The

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As you read this, I will be on my way back from Berlin. I bought a plane ticket from England to Germany to buy the new Mariah Carey album, “Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse.”


Why am I travelling across Europe to purchase a CD? Because I don’t steal music, and because record labels are a–holes. The album comes out today in Germany and Australia, but, for some reason, the U.S. and the U.K. both have to wait until next week. Which I don’t want to.

In the age of torrenting, staggered international releases are ridiculous. Thanks to differing time zones, a Friday release in Australia actually means that the album was in the wild as early as 3 p.m. London time the previous day—i.e., before I even arrived at the airport. Does Mariah’s record label really expect fans not to download a major new release at the earliest possible second?

And for those who aren’t obsessives and simply like her music, why would someone spend money on an album a week after they already downloaded it? Replacing a torrent with a new, legal copy would totally mess up iTunes play counts, for a start.

To be fair to the label, the album was streaming on iTunes this week as part of iTunes Radio’s First Play series. But there are problems with this: one, determined pirates ripped the stream and uploaded illegal copies within hours. Two: iTunes Radio isn’t available in any of the places I listen to music. I’m chained to my laptop instead of listening at the gym or in the car.

That’s why, on Monday, I spent £714—about $1,200—on a ticket to get me to Berlin so I could listen to the album at same time as fans in Australia and Germany, at my own convenience, and without illegally downloading it. This, Universal, is what you drove me to. Flew me to. Whatever. I admit that there were less expensive tickets available, but thankfully the easyJet phase of my life is over.

There’s a certain cachet to doing something so ridiculous. It puts you squarely in the premier league of fans. (Since you ask, Mariah devotees are called “lambs.”) In this age of torrents and iTunes gift cards (which can be used to open foreign accounts, if you’re really determined), it’s getting harder and harder to demonstrate that you’re a proper nut-job groupie. I’m hoping no one bested me and flew to Australia, by the way, because that would murder my standing in the forums.

But this really shouldn’t be necessary any more, should it, Universal? Can you even imagine how little I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and invest in the “deluxe” edition right now? The fact is I will, because 

. But most listeners simply torrented “Me. I Am Mariah” days ago, and that was that.

While we’re on the subject of deluxe editions, do you have any idea how absurd it is to give exclusive tracks to Japanese fans in the era of BitTorrent? I mean, do you? Do you not understand that you are practically forcing fans—even silly people like me who insist on paying for what they listen to—to illegally download those versions of the albums? This time around, you’re releasing a Target-only edition of the album with a Mariah cover of “America The Beautiful.” There’s almost nothing I wouldn’t do to get that into my library. Organ donation, physical violence, you name it.

It’s worth pointing out that even if albums were to be released simultaneously worldwide, fans are still being shafted in sound quality when they buy digitally. Almost every online retailer ships tracks at 256 kilobytes per second. How many ordinary people know that these files are inferior in quality to CDs, which are encoded at 320 kbps? I mean, sorry to be blunt, but how dare you?

Record companies are forever whining about piracy, at the same time driving to copyright infringement the very people they should be enlisting as ambassadors. I’ve written in the past that record labels should probably just give up and make MP3s free. But so long as they do charge, can we not all please have the same music at the same time—and, crucially, in the same quality?

As a fellow content creator I have the utmost sympathy for artists pitted against their own fans by the sheer stupidity of these release date rituals, which belong to the Victorian era. But even my patience has limits.


Regulars will know the high esteem in which I hold “explainer” websites like The Upshot. So it was a pity to read Claire Cain Miller’s hand-wringing about the lack of openly homosexual chief executives in America. I mean, thanks awfully. But we’re fine. Apple’s chief exec, Tim Cook, is one of the most powerful men on the planet, and I’ve lost count of the gay-run startups on their way to becoming titans of tomorrow.

Oddly, Miller found no space to mention Cook, even when rewriting her anguished communiqué after complaints from readers about her definition of “openly.” (They were really saying: butt out of our bedrooms.) Apparently, CEOs, your sex lives are the subject of fascination to bien pensant Times bloggers. Anyway, Claire, look: the gays have had a chat and we’re going to launch a sexual preference wiki, listing everyone in public life, to satisfy your curiosity. Or I get that wrong?


Libel factory Lulu, the “strictly for women” social network on which jilted broads can besmirch the names of men who’ve dumped them, now lets those selfsame blokes check out the reviews. Is it me, or is Lulu one gigantic, mean-spirited, spiteful and tasteless stunt?


Is there any greater joy in life than clicking “Not Going” on a Facebook event notification from a close friend? Some people think ignoring invitations is shady enough on its own. But they’re not really trying: clicking that decline button is as close as a civilized person can get to a slap across the face.


I played a modest role in busting a con artist last week. Mo Ansar, a bank employee fired for not repaying a loan, decided he wanted to be famous. He used Twitter to advertise bogus qualifications, while peddling 9/11 conspiracies and cozying up to extremists. It worked: the BBC regularly used him as a pundit until he was exposed. Ansar found it easy to rewrite the past on Twitter, where there is no shortage of credulous individuals.

Here’s something I learned during my research: to silence critics, narcissists and fraudsters are abusing the harassment procedures on social networks, designed to protect abuse victims, on an industrial scale. So it was with Jeremy Duns, who was looking into Ansar’s prolific sockpuppetry and suddenly found his Twitter account suspended. Too often, victims of suspensions are journalists conducting legitimate inquiries. Twitter provides no contact information and no right of reply—even if the complaint is clearly frivolous. Perhaps the verified scheme should be rolled out further. Either way, this has got to be fixed.


Readers of this column are generally a cut above the braying internet masses, and will, I am sure, welcome some etymological trivia to take with them into the weekend.  So here you go. You probably know that “kindle” means to light, or to set on fire, and you can most likely work out why that makes it a cool name for Amazon’s portable e-book reader. But kindle is even more appropriate for today’s internet culture and meme-obsessed generation than you realize: originally from the Middle English kindelen, “to give birth to,” until relatively recently kindle was also a noun, which meant… a litter of kittens. Yes, yes. You’re welcome.

Milo Yiannopoulos is a regular columnist for Business Insider. You can read his past columns here.

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