Music’s online holdouts: The Beatles, Led Zepplin, AC/DC, Garth Brooks, and more

“When will digital music consumers finally be able to meet the Beatles? Sooner than later it seems: Anticipation is building that the group’s storied recordings will be available for (legal) digital download, now that Apple Corps, which oversees the catalog, has settled litigation over its name with Steve Jobs’ Apple,” Louis Hau reports for Forbes.

Hau reports, “But while the Beatles have been the most prominent digital holdouts, they aren’t the only ones. Even though the vast majority of well-known recording artists now sell their music online, you still can’t buy a digital copy of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ or ‘Back In Black.'”

“In fact, virtually none of the Australian hard-rock veterans’ music is available as a legal download anywhere on the Web. Ditto for Led Zeppelin. And the same is true, except for the occasional tribute album contribution, for Garth Brooks,” Hau reports.

Hau reports, “The desire among some artists to retain control over the use of their music, continued ambivalence about new technologies and legal challenges in securing the necessary rights continue to keep some prominent song catalogs from being widely available for downloading. The result is a crazy quilt of restrictions that can frustrate their fans and their record labels.”

Full article with mention of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, and more here.

Related articles:
Why Apple iTunes Store + The Beatles would be a very big deal – February 06, 2007
Wired News: Apple iPods pre-loaded with music are about to become the new CD – February 06, 2007
NPD’s Crupnick: Beatles-iTunes deal ‘almost certain’ – February 05, 2007
Apple Inc. and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. enter into new agreement – February 05, 2007
The Beatles to share the love with Apple’s iTunes Store on Valentine’s Day? – January 16, 2007
Apple close to offering Beatles music via iTunes Store – December 05, 2006
Fortune: Apple close to landing exclusive iTunes Store deal with The Beatles – November 27, 2006
The Beatles catalog to be available for download ‘soon’ – November 13, 2006
Apple will do ‘everything we can’ to lure The Beatles to iTunes Music Store – May 10, 2006


  1. “Widely available for downloading” and “Widely downloaded” are two different things. Most of the bands mentioned are either long past their prime, or never had a prime…

    My favorite was the assholes in Metallica, who avoided it for a long time. They didn’t want you to download one single song because “The albums were written as an entire piece and that’s how they were meant to be played.” Uh yeah. It’s not like they were Picasso or Beethoven. They were/are a shmuck metal band worried more about money than art. Were they worried about their albums being played in their entirety, they would never have let the singles be played on the radio, right?

    It’s amazing. Sometimes the world of online music seems so old, yet sometimes it still seems so young. Not fully embraced.

  2. Hey, all I got to say is:

    Rip, mix, burn.

    I love my ITunes. So you hold outs, If I really want the whole CD, fine. If I only want a song or two, I will pass on you till I can get it my way.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />


  3. “… Even though the vast majority of well-known recording artists now sell their music online, you still can’t buy a digital copy of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ or ‘Back In Black…”

    Why do these writers make this same mistake over and over again? Of course you can buy digital copies of all these songs — you just can’t purchase them online. What do these people think a CD is?

  4. It’s clear that greed and an intense desire to control distribution in the music industry extends beyond the corporate offices. Many artists are realistic enough to know that current DRM technolgy is a sham and they will not sell downloads without honest customers paying an insurance premium because a few thieve will steal their music. Still, it’s the artist’s choice not to offer his or her own music for digital download. These artists also realize that most honest consumers won’t be willing to pay the exorbitant fees for the insurance and that’s the main reason you won’t find their music for sale online.

  5. “The albums were written as an entire piece and that’s how they were meant to be played.”

    In reality, Metallica had/has one of the best royalty deals in the music business. This means that if folks were able to buy just the songs they liked, they would be potentially losing a ton of money.


    Buy the CDs and rip them yourself. Most of these groups aren’t making new music anyways. If you don’t already own any of their CDs, you’re probably not a fan and never will be. For casual fans, pick up a greatest hits CD. End of discussion!

  7. ipod G8TR is right. Moreover, by holding out, people will probably download someone’s ripped album for free. Thus these musicians still lose control of their musinc AND they miss out on all that extra revenue for not going online.

    Stupid stupid stupid. It is clear they are rock stars, not brain surgeons.

    I also echo….WHO CARES!

  8. “Most of the bands mentioned are either long past their prime, or never had a prime…”

    I assume you had your fingers crossed when you typed this.

    If these bands “never had a prime”, there wouldn’t be this pent-up demand, now, would there?

  9. Of the artists listed, Radiohead may be coming round soon. Their reasoning for witholding from the digital revolution so far is that they are an albums band and their music is not meant to be listened to on a song per song basis but rather as a whole album… I believe that there is some logic to this type of thinking, FOR SOME ARTISTS… Not all.

    But Radiohead front man Thom Yorke released his first solo album last year on iTunes and it was interesting to see that it topped the iTunes Album list for over a week, yet none of his songs even made the iTunes singles chart.. It just goes to show that “real” artists have fans that still prefer albums over singles.. And albums bands for the most part should not worry so much about their art being disected and listened to out of context.

  10. At least Metallica made the move — that’s more than you can say for the other folks mentioned. I think sooner (rather than later) music fans will regard artists whose music isn’t widely available online as being unimportant. I’ll bet a lot of them already do. So for more and more people, “Who are/were the Rolling Stones” is not a joke question.

Reader Feedback

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