Holdouts climb aboard Apple iTunes bandwagon, but some stragglers remain

“Bob Seger turned the page, and Metallica finally found justice for online fans. Now, only a few remaining big-name musical acts refuse to make their songs available on Apple Computer’s popular iTunes Music Store,” Brian Charlton reports for The Associated Press.

Charlton reports, “Analysts say the online holdouts – including the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and Kid Rock – probably can’t avoid iTunes forever as fans flock to the Internet to buy music.”

“But the artists argue that online distribution leaves them with too small a profit. And they say iTunes wrecks the artistic integrity of an album by allowing songs to be purchased individually for 99 cents. Some bands, such as AC/DC have released albums on other, more flexible sites, but not iTunes,” Charlton reports. “‘We’ve always thought certain artists put out albums that aren’t meant to be compilations with 50 other artists,’ said Ed ‘Punch’ Andrews, manager for both Seger and Kid Rock. ‘We’re hoping at some point albums become important again like they were in the past 30 years.'”

Charlton reports, “Seger, the Michigan rocker who entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, is considering releasing his classic 1976 album Night Moves but wants it downloaded only as an album, Andrews said. ‘It’s amazing how many people go there,’ Andrews said of iTunes. “We’re hoping albums work there.” Andrews said he wasn’t sure if Apple eventually would allow the album to be kept intact.”

Full article here.
If we want your whole album, we will buy it that way. If you want to try to force us to buy your whole album in the name of “art,” then you are highly confused and, frankly, you can keep your album. The album, which for decades have been simply a way to force customers to buy filler in order to get one or a couple of good songs is DEAD, thanks to iTunes. You want us to buy your whole album? Then write an entire album consisting of good songs, for once. What we hope Steve Jobs says to the online holdouts desperately clinging to the outmoded album concept: When you figure out what “art” and “freedom” and “customer choice” really mean and when you decide to treat your fans as people capable of making intelligent choices all by themselves instead of treating them as a revenue stream, then you can put your songs on iTunes for sale individually. Until then, twist in the wind.

Related articles:
Apple’s iTunes Music Store will change the album concept; artists should embrace change – July 29, 2003
New York Times: iTunes Music Store ‘working against the survival of the album’ – July 19, 2003
Motley Fool writer calls Jobs a ‘smug punk’ and worries about demise of music in album form – May 14, 2003

41 Comments

  1. “concept albums” are an interesting… well… concept, but rarely has anyone been able to pull it off successfully and even then only a few of the songs on the album were really so good that you’d want to listen to them time and again. and in recent years there have been even fewer concept albums worth the time and effort to listen to them. but if these artists insist that their works be sold as albums only, so be it. the people who’re diehard fans will buy them in quantity, others will wait.

    that being said, i agree with iSteve above.

  2. Demanding that you write a whole album full of songs that YOU like is ridiculous! That’s what’s cool about music is that not everyone likes the same thing – and so what if the artist wants the whole thing in a package? It’s their product! They can put it out however they want or are able to.

    Long live the full lenth album/CD/whatever!!!!

    Without it, all you have is random junk, and formulaic attempts to make a hit.

  3. For every album like Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Wall’, which should be purchased whole, there are at least 1,000,000 albums that should be sold as singles because there is a lot of crappy filler out there.

    Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’ is also one of the exceptions. There isn’t a bad cut on it.

    The Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ is another.

    Let the ‘real’ concept albums be kept intact, hack the crap out of the other 99%.

  4. there’s something i remember hearing in regards to buying a house or car…

    …regardless of what it is, an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

    i like the song Night Moves, i’d buy the song… but i’m not enough of a Seeger fan to want the whole album.

    on the other hand i’m a big Steely Dan fan so i bought the whole boxed set at Borders which contains all their albums and i’ve also bought every disc of new material released since then.

    to me Night Moves is worth spending 99¢… Citizen Steely Dan was worth $50. so like i said before, the people who want it will buy it, others will wait.

  5. Who the hell is buying albums from these old artists on iTunes?

    Who cares if The Beatles, Bob Seger or Led Zepplin are added?

    These bands are dead. They are not releaseing any NEW music. I like some of their work, so I simply imported their CDs that I already own into iTunes.

  6. If the “sanctity of the album” is so important to these artists, how do they justify releasing Greatest Hits compilations?

    After all, these collections take individual songs out of context. And there’s certainly no “artistic integrity” involved — they are compiled and released for the sole purpose of making money.

    While we’re on the subject, how did these “artistes” justify playing their songs out of album context when performing live?

    It’s not about “art” — it’s about money or, in the case of the Beatles, about pathetic bitterness.

  7. Music Business—only one of those words is important and it’s not “Music”. These “artists” slay me with their grandiose, megalomanic visions of the own “cultural” contributions to society.

    If you don’t want to sell singles, fine, just don’t whine about it. After all, you have managed to maintain your precious artistic integrity and that’s the most important thing. Oh, but you’re frustrated because you could be raking in the dough if you would only “compromise” a little. Ah, well, with great power comes great responsibility and great art sometimes requires great sacrifice, yada, yada, yada.

    The “album as art form” was an artificial construction based on technological limitations that have since gone the way of the dodo bird. Get used to a brave new world. If you have something to say, you can say it in 4 minutes or 45 minutes. If you don’t, well then you don’t.

  8. “The album, which for decades have been simply a way to force customers to buy filler in order to get one or a couple of good songs”–

    Depends. How’ bout “Thick as a Brick”? (Jethro Tull-Also another holdout.). See how ridiculous that arguement is rendered?
    On the other hand, another of thier albums that ian anderson would certainly consider to be a concept, “Aqualung”, I would NOT be interested in purchasing in it’s entirety.

    me= cut to the cahse. Yes, times have changed, and THAT’S THAT.

    tempus- are you nuts?
    Look up sales figures. ELP “Brain salad surgery” for example.
    Led Zepplin CONTINUES to sell appr. $10-$20 mil per year. 1/2 of that to kids.

    BTW, it’s PINK FLOYD’S The wall, which you CAN purchase, peicemeal, on itunes.

    Now, let’s get the entire 80+ albums by the late great Frank Zappa on itunes.

  9. iTMS Artist hold out = lost revenue

    CD sales are plummeting. It’s not just because of piracy, it’s because there are LEGAL and more fullfilling alternative methods to acquire music for pleasure.

    Metallica got on board because they want $$$ from online sales of their large catalog.

  10. regarding the ‘artistic integrity’ of bands, how many singles did led zeppelin realease in their entire active career? none. they only ever released albums. (now before you start to jump up and down and say that whole lotta love came out as a single, yes it did, in 1997 – released by the company, not the band).

    MW : job – it’s a good job if you can get it

  11. A quick informal survey of the CD sales department at my local St Louis Walmart Supercenter.

    People browsing five CD aisles……none

    People hanging around the iPod and MP3 player counter….5

    People browsing DVDs……3

    People checking out cell phones…..1

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.