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.

  5. Being that Pink Floyd’s music is more art than anything,
    this makes sense. Their albums are entire experiences, not ment to be broken into hit tracks. While it may make sense to leave their most popular tracks as individual purchases, it makes even more sense to bundle the whole ablums as to not degrade the integrity of the artist and to preserve the intended experience.

  6. “Pick Floyd is garbage. Never buy 1 song, much less an album of that crap.”

    Discussing matters of taste reveals extremely poor taste. That you personally don’t like Pink Floyd reveals to me that you have very poor musical taste. But that’s me. Anyone who has lived on the planet Earth for a little will surely know that Pink Floyd seems to be one of the highest acclaimed artists in the broad genre of contemporary popular music.

    But that’s beside the point here. Pink Floyd seems to be playing (willingly or unwittingly) into labels’ hands, giving them leverage against Apple in their desperate quest to force the artificial construct know as The Album onto the public.

    It is sad that the court had to rule for Pink Floyd, and ironically, label will likely be all to happy that it lost this one. They can now easily go back and force Apple to re-bundle a lot of their “Albums” in order to “preserve artistic integrity” of the most recent excrement from Lady Gaga or whoever…

  7. Pink Floyd is not like other bands.

    Every album created by Pink Floyd is a complete work of art.

    The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon, etc. They are not compilations of singles, they are a single work of art consisting of tracks that are movements, more like operas.

    Breaking apart the Wall is almost a criminal act.

    I can understand why Pink Floyd feels this way. I could understand it for Nine Inch Nails.

    I’d laugh if it was something like Hannah Montannah or Britney Spears.

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

    So after all, this is about making more money than you can spend, is not about music or art, right? is not about spreading the message? Just money?

  9. So… the point of MDN is Pink Floyd shouldn’t have artistic control of how its music is sold? This isn’t a record label trying to force something, it’s the people who actually wrote, performed and recorded it. That holds weight as far as I’m concerned. The choice is on YOUR end. If YOU don’t want it, don’t buy it. But it’s their music, and they can set the rules if they so please.

  10. @theloniousMac,

    I can’t totally agree with you. Atom Heart Mother and Ummagumma really are just a collection of singles. Probably Saucerful of Secrets, too. But those were early albums. I do agree that the albums you mention are works of art, and deserve best to be played as they are and not split up.

    I think that the determination of what makes a work of art, not to be split up into singles, is more in the mind of the beholder than anything else. I have some favorite Al Stewart albums that I wouldn’t listen to in any order other than how it was released. However, I can’t really say that there’s a common theme or thread that unites the songs in that order. I guess the artists who release the works are just as much beholders of the work as are their fans.

    But that’s just how I see it. YMMV.

  11. I think artists should sell their album the way they want. It is their product, no one else’s. If they want to sell it in an “album” instead of individual songs, that’s their right. If people don’t want to buy the whole album, that’s their right too : then they just don’t have to buy it.

  12. @bob

    I think we can all agree it is all about the money. True, they can set the rules however they want regarding their art. and they have. They have also thrown any argument about “artistic integrity’ out the window. They are the ones who have turned their “art” into a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. that is disappointing to me and apparently to others as well. I think i will be sticking to the flaming lips version of DSOTM from now on. The other bands version is gonna leave a bad taste in my mouth from now on.

  13. These kinds of decisions by the record companies or the artists only drive their fans to pirated options.

    However, Pink Floyd is one of the few bands where I would say the whole album is worth every penny. But Garth Brooks… bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

  14. Floyd albums are meant to be played whole. I for one would have no interest in buying any single pink Floyd track. I want the whole album. So by that logic this makes sense to me.

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