Pink Floyd and EMI fight over iTunes royalties

Wed, Mar 10, 2010


A few weeks ago, we took a look at a string of artists who were reluctant to make their music available on iTunes because they felt their albums should be experienced in their entirety, and not as the amalgamation of “singles.”

Jay-Z summed things up nicely when he articulated why his album “American Gangster” would not be available on iTunes – “As movies are not sold scene by scene, this collection will not be sold as individual singles.”

Over time though, a number of high profile artists historically opposed to the piecemeal offering of downloadable singles, such as, Metallica and the Dave Matthews Band, have changed their tune. Some artists, though, namely AC/DC and Kid Rock, still refuse to “sell out” and sell their albums on a song by song basis.

But that’s not to say that all other artists who sell individual tracks on iTunes are happy with the status quo. Recently, Pink Floyd and EMI have been at odds over royalty payments stemming from song sales on iTunes. Part of the dispute is rooted in Pink Floyd’s assertion that their contract with EMI does not allow EMI to sell individual Pink Floyd songs via iTunes. The problem with hashing this out, however, is that the contract in question was drawn up long before iTunes even existed.

Wired writes:

he case highlights the common dispute between rights holders and publishers over how to deal today with royalties for intellectual property born and contracted prior to the explosion of online digital sales.

Pink Floyd, however, said more was at stake than royalties in the internet age. The psychedelic-music band’s musical craft is being misrepresented when sold in singles, Howe said.

“Pink Floyd is well-known for performing seamless pieces. Many of the songs blend into each other,” Howe told the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

When arguing over how albums should be sold on iTunes is your biggest problem, you’re probably doing pretty well for yourself.

Further Reading: The biggest artists not on iTunes



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