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iTunes Holdouts

August 21, 2006

If you're fans of the artists involved and you have an iPod, you already know who they are: the Beatles, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and many others.

They are holdouts who refuse to allow their music onto Apple's wildly popular iTunes Web site for fan downloads at .99 cents per song. While I agree with many who say they cannot hold out forever if they don't want to be left behind by the reality that is digital music delivery today, I can sympathize with their reasons.

Pop music has always been taken one sip at a time (that's all most people over 18 can frankly tolerate, I think). But serious Rock n' Roll, particularly the 1970s variety, belongs to the genre called "album" rock. Remember when albums were works of art meant to be taken as a unit? (And remember when the cover art was big enough to see?) Think Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" or Rush's "Moving Pictures" or pretty much any album ever put forth by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. "Prog" rock albums were more than a series of songs...they were musical sagas. I understand that the artists wish the songs weren't plucked singly off iTunes and played just after "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and just before the "Spongebob Squarepants" theme on somebody's "family car" CD collection, but let's face it...that's been happening for decades on FM radio anyway.

Some musicians, such as Bob Seger, are making whole albums available on download sites, with a caveat...the album must be bought in its entirety.

While I wish such artists well, I wonder if they aren't needlessly shackling themselves today only to find they have to give in down the road. I'm glad they don't need the money, but what if I really, really need Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" at the last minute for the next road trip I take? It's one of the best "driving songs" ever written.


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