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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Artists, Studios Say No to iTunes, Digital Content

With so many studies charting the growth of the digital music scene, we thought we would take a step back and examine those albums not getting swept up in the race to go digital.  As highlighted in our blog story about CD albums dominating the market over digital albums, music albums on CD offer the highest quality audio at the best price, typically include supplemental content like lyrics and artwork, and as physical product, cannot be lost in hard drive crashes or data dumps.

That all being said, there are several additional reasons as to why some of music’s most acclaimed musicians and reputable studios refuse to go digital.

The Beatles
Digital users are most likely to notice this glaring void from iTunes first and foremost.  Everyone from The Wall Street Journal to BBC News has written about iTunes lack of the Beatles’ discography.  According to Apple Intelligence blog 9to5 Mac, the Beatles’ label EMI has yet to work out a deal with iTunes that best suits both businesses’ needs.

According to a 2008 The Wall Street Journal article, Aussie rock band AC/DC “has consistently sold more than one million CDs in the U.S. alone, year after year,” and they refuse to give up their album catalogue to iTunes.  Whereas with the Beatles, the label has refused to relinquish the discography, with AC/DC the actual band has taken issue with iTunes.  To summarize quotes from guitarist Angus Young reported on Edible Apple, the band feels their albums need to be listened to in their entirety.  Singles downloaded on iTunes, they feel, do not do them justice as artists.  9to5 Mac also quotes Young, who compares his band’s albums to paintings—something that cannot be sold in pieces.

Garth Brooks
These musical acts all agree with AC/DC in regard to their albums being singular pieces of art.  In an interview with BBC News, country superstar Garth Brooks explains, “‘we do albums, we have always done albums.’  Referring to songs from his 1990 album No Fences, he continues: “‘Friends in Low Places is not Friends in Low Places without Wolves or Wild Horses.’” 

Bob Seger
Bob Seger’s manager Ed "Punch" Andrews adds to Brooks’ comment on 9to5 Mac, explaining that certain musicians’ songs are not meant to share the stage in a user-made compilation from iTunes.  He furthers, saying he hopes albums will one day hold the importance they did 30 years ago. 

With Tool, it’s not just their albums—which feature “eight-minute-plus epics that often flow one into the next”—they consider art, but the album’s packaging as well (9to5 Mac).  Their albums are intricately packaged and contain inserts and cover art that dazzles the eye.

Glenn Frey
For Eagles’ guitarist and solo artist Glenn Frey, the issue with iTunes has a great deal to do with money.  According to The Wall Street Journal, after manager Irving Azoff explained that royalties from iTunes were not as high as expected for Eagles’ album sales, Frey did some math and found that the iTunes royalties amassed thus far equated to roughly 39 minutes performing in Kansas City.  Purportedly, this math aided Frey in his decision to not release his solo albums to the digital market, unlike the Eagles, whose albums are available online.

Kid Rock
No one has heated up the iTunes debate quite like Kid Rock.  The Wall Street Journal, 9to5 Mac, and Edible Apple have all reported on Kid Rock’s holdout from iTunes and the success his albums have experienced without the digital market’s help.  According to the Telegraph, Kid Rock’s holdout has nothing to do with cost.  He knows going digital would be cost-effective in terms of eliminating packaging and distribution. 
In an entertaining BBC News article from 2008, music reporter Ian Youngs explains that Kid Rock’s holdout has everything to do with what he feels is an outdated and unsuccessful system: “‘So the internet was an opportunity for everyone to be treated fairly, [Kid Rock explains] for the consumer to get a fair price, for the artist to be paid fairly, for the record companies to make some money.  But they stuck to the ‘old system.’” 

King Crimson and Def Leppard
While Def Leppard’s latest album, Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, is available from iTunes, their greatest works—like Hysteria and Pyromania—remain absent from the digital music realm.  King Crimson’s presence is non-existent on iTunes besides one track from the Children of Men soundtrack.  As to why, 9to5 Mac reports that they could not find a public explanation for either band.

Bottom Line
Because albums from these acclaimed musicians cannot be found online, consumers must venture out to look for physical product.  This creates an opportunity for libraries to further fill the needs of their patrons, especially since brick-and-mortar stores usually lack the needed shelf-space to support deep and varied discographies.

Midwest Tape Can Help
With this bottom line in mind, we did some thorough research and compiled a collection of nearly 100 CD albums not yet available digitally.  Click here to browse the Top Albums Not Found On iTunes collection now on


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