SZA's Stand Against Music Leaks: A Fight for Artistic Integrity


Oct. 20 2023, Published 6:53 p.m. ET

As much as technology in music production has eased artists’ work, it has also come with its pitfalls, and music leaks have to be up there on that list. Early leaks have become a norm in the industry, fueled by the desire to seem “well connected” and downright clout chasing, where most will go any mile to get their names on the chats.

Unfortunately for the artist, once the leaked track starts making rounds over the internet, there’s nothing much they can do, as it’s a big blow to their creative process. SZA, as chilled as her fanbase is, has found herself on the receiving end of these unauthorized distributions and is fed up.

Enough With the Leaks

SZA has every right to assert her strong stand on this menace, as her work has fallen prey to it enough times for her to know the pain of the pinch. Back in 2018, an album she was working on named “Comethru” was leaked on Spotify, which featured nine unreleased SZA songs. Top Dawg Entertainment president Terrence said the project was “stolen and leaked,” with Sza dismissing the leaked tunes as “not new” and saying they were random scratches from 2015.

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More recently, in June 2023, she found herself in a similar mess when her verse to a song they were working on with Lil Tjay and 6LACK, “Calling My Phone,” leaked. The final piece was released without her verse, only for the fans to discover later that she was initially meant to be in the song but didn't turn in her part.

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Calling Out the Perpetrators

SZA expressed her frustration with some harsh words against those who release unfinished projects, terming them as selfish for their unauthorized distribution of artists' works.In an interview with Variety, she spoke about the weird position she finds herself in when her music is untimely released.

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She makes it known that when people leak her music, they ruin it, and she has no reason to continue working on it, so she just lets them enjoy the leak. According to her, once a tune finds its way to her fans without her approval, it’s no longer hers; it belongs to those who released it.

She understands that it’s a move to bully her into releasing more music, which she believes nobody has the power to do. She has revealed before that her best project releases have come while she’s under zero pressure to upload them; thus, these less-than-correct versions don’t do any good to her or her listeners.

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Demanding Respect for the Creative Process

Following the leak of her verse for “Calling My Phone,” SZA set to Twitter to express both her anger and happiness, explaining why she dropped out of the final track. While she was glad people liked it, she couldn't turn it in as she felt she couldn't add anything to a song that was already doing well.

For her, it’s more about respect for the artist than trying to save face. She clarifies that she only aims to give her best to a song, and if she can't add value, she backs down.

SZA may not go deeper into the details, but the damage these leaks cause is massive. While it may be funny to some fans, these leaks have massive detrimental effects on the artist that extend beyond just their ego.

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Besides denying the artists control over their work, they disrupt the marketing and sales strategies, affecting the business side of the craft. Plus, it’s just unethical and wrong. Imagine if someone took a project that you were halfway done and turned it in to your supervisor or colleagues as a complete submission. It wouldn’t be that fun, would it?

No Need for Leaks: Enjoy the Anticipation

SZA’s stance on music leaks voices every artist’s concern, and the message is simple: respect their creative process and allow artists to express themselves without needless pressure and inconvenience. Even you, as a fan, have a role in this. While the thrill of a “scoop” is fleeting, the impact on the artist and the industry can be long-lasting, and you should stand against it. Resist the urge to indulge in leaked tracks but rather be patient and savor the anticipation. With this bit of responsibility, you’ll make leaks less desirable and, therefore, less prevalent.

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