R.I.P. Alan Carton: “Did It Leak?” Struck Fear Into Hearts of Publicists
Alan Carton, the 23-year-old wunderkind behind the Web site Did It Leak?, is dead of complications from cancer. For the last two years and under the cover of anonymity, Carton worked himself into the go-to source for leaked albums. Fresh, hot, indie, major label, hip-hop, noise-rock, whatever—Carton had a nose for finding torrents before anyone else. In its obituary, the Village Voice points out that Carton's twitter feed was a constantly updating bible for music nuts. But as I found out during a strange tiff with a worried publicist, labels saw Carton as something of a grim reaper.
I started following @DidItLeak my first month at City Paper as City Lights editor. I was terrible at keeping up with release calendars, and Carton's simple feed—no jokes, no politics, no nonsense—was like a release calendar that maintained itself. Fast-forward a year: I received Brand New's Daisy five weeks before its release date, along with a very stern (but ambiguous) warning about the consequences of leaking (immolation? banishment from the promo list? a spanking?). And even though my feelings about Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey are such that I have never wanted his stuff to leak—in fact, I wanted no one to hear the album until we could all hear it at the same time—I knew that Daisy would leak. The big ones always leak. Always, always, always.
So, as the weeks leading to Daisy's release elapsed, I began to follow Carton's feed with increasing anxiety. When will it leak? Oh God, oh God, When will it leak? What will people say? Oh God, oh God. On Aug. 24, Carton published a short post in the same format I'd seen hundreds of times: "Brand New – Daisy leaked, due out September 22nd."
Like a good, objective music critic, I freaked. Cursed the name of whichever writer leaked the album, then spent the rest of the day trolling the message boards at AbsolutePunk.net, looking for haters to school on the merits of the new Brand New.
Carton posted that the album had leaked on a Saturday. The following Monday, a publicist for Brand New called the City Paper and accused me of leaking the album.
After a heated back-and-forth, during which I explained that I had listened to the digital promo over 100 times because I genuinely loved Brand New, not because I had shared my username and password with all my emo buddies, the publicist backed off. A truce in place, I asked her how she learned the album was out in the wild.
"Twitter," she said.
"Did It Leak?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said. "We watch it like hawks."
Kudos to you, Alan Carton, for making us all take notice.