Pink Floyd wins court battle to stop EMI from selling individual songs online

Mac Sale  FREE Shipping“Pink Floyd have won a High Court battle to stop their record label EMI selling individual songs online,” BBC News reports.

“The rock legends, signed to EMI since 1967, said their contract meant their albums could not be split up without their permission,” The Beeb reports. “A judge agreed, saying the contract contained a clause to ‘preserve the artistic integrity of the albums.'”

“EMI has been ordered to pay £40,000 ($60,000) in costs, with a further fine to be decided,” The Beeb reports. “The group, whose latest contract was signed before download stores like iTunes appeared, also disputed the way royalties for digital sales were calculated.”

The Beeb reports, “Earlier this week, Robert Howe QC, appearing for the group, said the the band’s deal with EMI stipulated that their ‘seamless’ albums should not be split up and that they ‘wanted to retain artistic control.'”

“The issue of selling individual tracks online has been a thorny one for many artists, who want their albums to be seen as complete works,” The Beeb reports. “Bands also receive less money if fans pick and choose tracks instead of buying a full suite of songs.”

MacDailyNews Take: “Bands also receive less money if fans pick and choose tracks instead of buying a full suite of songs.” So, the answer is to deny their fans choice?

The Beeb reports, “Garth Brooks and AC/DC are among the others who have objected to their albums being split up.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Pink Floyd is one of the very specific examples we use as the exception to the rule when explaining how most non-classical “albums” are really forced bundles, not “art.” However, regardless of the artist, we have a simple, logical solution: Artists who feel their “album” is a “complete seamless work” should not split them up. They should be confident enough in the quality of their work to sell them exactly as they desire them to be heard.

For example: Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, which is currently sold via Apple’s iTunes Store as an “album” of 10 tracks for US$9.99 or, as of the time of publication, as nine individual tracks for $1.29 each (one of the tracks, “Us and Them” is sold as “Album Only” to, presumably, force the sale of the bundle, as is the discrepancy between the lower “album” price vs. the total of the individual songs), should be sold only as a single 42:59 track for $9.99 or, if they want to go for it, $12.90 ($1.29 * 10 tracks).

“Best of,” “greatest hits,” and other compilation bundles are a no-no, of course. Artistic integrity and all that. The members of Pink Floyd, of course, will have to stop cashing those royalty checks for their Works bundle, lest they be deemed complete and utter hypocrites.

Physical CDs (remember those?) should obviously be mastered with one track. The ability to scan the audio material forward and in reverse should also obviously be disabled somehow. We’re not sure what to do about those philistines who would pick up a phonograph needle and place it willy nilly on the song of their choice. Jail? Or worse: Take their vinyl and force them to listen only to 64 kpbs MP3s?

Radio stations will, of course, not be allowed to “split up” albums and “pick and choose” which songs to play on-air. Full albums, all the way through please, Mr. DJ.

In addition, artists who object to the destruction of the sanctity of their “albums” and who are currently still performing live shows, should obviously not split up and/or reorder individual songs, but, rather perform full “albums” as recorded in order to preserve their artistic integrity.

We’ll leave the issue of whether or not to perform their “albums” in chronological order of release dates up to the artists.


  1. Time and money will tell whether Pink Floyd was right. As for the formula that works out how much royalty should be paid, the lack of production costs involved with downloads, marketing and advertising, savings accrued should in all fairness be passed onto to the band. The recording companies having made up their profit ages ago.

  2. Customer choice even allows us to reorder the tracks even if the artist thinks it undermines the “integrity” of the work. I refuse to listen to Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms” as laid out. For me it’s always 1-4-5-6-9, then a “Side 2” of 2-3-7-8. It’s a very different experience.

  3. “Bands also receive less money if fans pick and choose tracks instead of buying a full suite of songs.”

    And grocers receive less money if customers pick and choose what they actually need, instead of being forced to buy bundles which include stuff they don’t want. So by this logic, clearly grocers should create legally-protected bundles to increase profits and deny their customers choice.

    We don’t need forced album purchase…
    We don’t need no thought control…
    Hey! Floyd! Leave our tracks alone!

  4. Well, there is now a way around this for artists if they choose..

    On BT’s new album “These Hopeful Machines”he has discovered a way to prevent fans from buying individual tracks. He has simply put all the songs together into two tracks entitled “Side A” and “Side B” which are sold together for $9.99. If fans really want their tracks separated, they have to buy the physical CD.

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