With the iTunes Music Store approaching its 10 Billionth download, we thought it’d be a good time to go back and take a look at some of the high profile musical acts who still refuse, for one reason or another, to make their musical libraries available on iTunes.
Now everyone knows that the most high profile group missing from iTunes is The Beatles, and rumors of their impending arrival on iTunes have been going on for years now.
But they’re not alone.
Chief among the iTunes draft dodgers is the Australian heavy metal group AC/DC whose album “Back in Black” has sold over 49 million copies, making it the second most purchased album in history behind Michael Jacskon’s Thriller. AC/DC have been quite outspoken about their anti-iTunes stance, and for them, it all boils down to the fact that they look at their albums as works of art that shouldn’t be split up and sold 1/12 at a time, as iTunes requires. In an interview with the Guardian last year, AC/DC guitarist Angus Young (you know, the dude who dresses up as a schoolboy) opined on why the group not only avoids iTunes, but is reluctant to put out singles in any sort of format.
“We don’t make singles, we make albums,” Young said, “Way back in the Seventies, we drew these figures on the back of an envelope for our record company. We showed them how much they earned from us if we sold one million singles and how much they earned if we sold one million albums. The difference is staggering.”
Angus continued, “That was to get them off our back because we only very grudgingly release singles. Our real reason is that we honestly believe the songs on any of our albums belong together. If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album – and we don’t think that represents us musically.”
Fair enough, and though you might disagree with their position, you’ve got to at least respect their artistic integrity and refusal to bow down to the mighty dollar. And as a matter of fact, the group has never licensed their music to appear in any form of advertising as well. Meanwhile, and as a piece of musical trivia, Moby’s album Play was the first album to have each and every one of its songs appear in a commercial.
Moving along, another big name act with little to no representation on iTunes is Detroit based country/rap/rock artist Kid Rock, who has also been quite vocal in his opposition to the iTunes business model. Rock has argued, and it makes sense, that because selling songs on iTunes requires no added costs such as packaging or distribution, the royalties artists receive should be substantially higher. A valid point, though the problem Rock mentions probably has more to do with historically greedy record labels and outdated boilerplate contracts than anything else. To Rock’s credit, he doesn’t make any bones about his albums being pieces of art, and is upfront about the monetary reasons behind his reluctance to hop on the iTunes bandwagon.
Also noticeably absent from iTunes is the heavy metal group Tool who also happen to look at their albums as standalone entities that need to be listened to in their entirety. And with 8-minute plus songs that seamlessly move from track to track and “flow one into the next”, we can definitely see where they’re coming from. Sort of.
But over the past few years, a number of famous artists who initially stood firmly on the iTunes sidelines decided to hop on board, such as Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and Dave Matthews. But one artist keeping it real, so to speak, is Jay-Z, whose album “American Gangster (inspired by the film of the same name) was pulled from iTunes in light of Jiggaman’s refusal to sell each track as an individual download. Explaining his decision, Jay-Z said, “As movies are not sold scene by scene, this collection will not be sold as individual singles.”