Almighty Press

July 13, 2006
The Itunes Holdouts

by Evan Serpick

The Beatles and Metallica may finally put their music online. Which other artists are on the brink?

Are the last digital holdouts finally ready to cave? The music of the Beatles, Metallica, and other major artists who have resisted selling their music online may soon be available on sites like iTunes and Rhapsody.

Several major bands have softened their stances on downloads over the past couple of years and found great success. In 2005, the Rolling Stones finally made all of their music available on iTunes and earlier this year, the Dave Matthews Band did the same. Both bands have seen significant bumps in catalog sales since the moves. In May, the Red Hot Chili Peppers put their catalog on iTunes as part of a push to promote the release of their double album Stadium Arcadium.

"We're seeing a lot of brand-new Red Hot Chili Peppers fanse because so many use iTunes as their primary source of buying music," says Marc Reiter, with QPrime, the band's management company. "It's been a boon in every way for them."

After years of explosive growth, digital-music sales are up seventy-seven percent so far this year. But the catalogs of several big name artists are almost entirely unavailable on iTunes - besides the Beattles and Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Tool and Kid Rock are also missing. (Plus, often as a result of contractual issues, iTunes is rife with partial catalogs: Crucial albums from Aerosmith and Van Morrison are also absent.) So whyare they still holding out? And what are the chances that they'll appear in an online music store sometime soon?

The Beattles

There have been indications that the Beattles catalog - the Holy Grail for download services - will finally make it online in the not-too-distant future. "The Beattles' music will one day be downloading," Ringo Starr recently said, clearly not yet down with the lingo. But don't throw out your Sgt. Pepper's LP just yet. "The Beattles are never the first to jump into something and quite often they're the last," says Clark Benson, CEO of the Almighty Institute of Music Retail, an industry research firm. "It is going to happen, but nobody has a time frame."


The band whose crusade against illegal downloading helped spark a national debate may have its music online for legal download in a matter of weeks. "Metallica understands the great demand from their fans for making their music available on iTunes," sayse Reiter of QPrime, which also manages Metallica. "They're making efforts toward delivering that." Word on the street is that Metallica have laready reached a deal with Apple, and "Enter Sandman" may make its way to your iPod very shortly.

Led Zeppelin

Zep "don't feel they need to do anything, at least not right away," says Benson. Like many veteran rock bands, Rober Plant, Jimmy Page, and Co. bristle at the thought of complete albums bring broken up into singles, and iTunes won't allow them to sell an entire album without making singles available. "iTunes has been holding out," Benson says. "They're saying 'Let us sell individual tracks or we're not interested.'"


"They're about as album-oriented as a group gets these days," says Benson. Tool's albums boast eight-minute-plus epics that often flow one into the next and are intricately packaged. "Tool rightfully feels, 'We're putting a lot into our album as an art form,'" says Benson. "They're almost certainly taking some degree of royalty hit on the amount of packaging they're doing. I would not expect Tool to go digital this year. All the others could."

Kid Rock

The Bullgod hardly seems like the kind of artist who would be concerned about the integrity of his albums as complete works. Still, Rock's manager, Ed "Punch" Andrews, advises him and Andrew's other client, Bob Seger, to stay away from download services. "We would love to have our catalogs included on iTunes, but the record labels have chosen to disregard the provisions of their record contracts, which never contemplated this form of song licensing," says Andrews, who echoes the concerns of many artists and managers - including the Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick, who both recently sued to get a bigger cut of their digital royalties.


Many surfers are suprised to find out that one of the most tech-savvy bands on the planet hasn't made its music readily available online. That may be changing. Last year, Radiohead put it's entire back catalog on (as complete albums and EPs only) with a portion of proceeds going to charity, and it's been having on-again off-again negotiations with Apple (the Bends and Kid A were briefly on iTunes last year). "Radiohead, by their next release, will probably come to some terms with iTunes," says Benson.

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Article List

November 21, 2013 - New York Times - Records Are Dying? Not Here

March 27, 2013 - Glendale News-Press - It's a matter of record: Burbank's Atomic Records and Backside

December 30, 2012 - Detroit News - As one record shop closes, vinyl music plays on in another

April 20, 2012 - - New vinyl album releases give record stores a kick

November 20, 2011 - - In an iTunes age, do we need the record store?

June 9, 2011 - - Curmudgeon Records closes its doors for good

April 16, 2011 - Wall Street Journal - One-Day Record-Store Revival

February 1, 2011 - Charlottesville News & Arts - Plan 9 Changes Location

August 13, 2010 - The Tennesean - Anita Wadhwani: Nashville indie record stores' sales spin in right direction

January 3, 2010 - Delaware News Journal - Delaware music shops get creative to compete with downloads, chain music stores

September 24, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - L.A. independent record shop is still in a groove

August 20, 2009 - CNN Money - You can make money off online music

June 14, 2009 - New York Times - Retailing Era Closes With Music Megastore

May 13, 2009 - Medill Reports - Resurgence in vinyl helps record store in recession

April 26, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - In a digital age, vinyl albums are making a comeback

April 18, 2009 - Charlotte Observer - Record stores band together

April 17, 2009 - Detroit News - Record Store Day spins profits and good beats at Metro Detroit shops

April 17, 2009 - Associated Press - Record Store Day celebrates indie retailers

April 10, 2009 - Detroit News - Street Corner Music moving to Oak Park plaza

April 10, 2009 - Toledo Free Press - New record store shakes up Adams Street

January 8, 2009 - OC Register - Closing date for Virgin Megastore at The Block

October 28, 2008 - Reuters - AC/DC back in "Black" with global smash

September 23, 2008 - Chicago Daily Herald - Independent music stores haven't yet disappeared from suburbia

June 23, 2008 - New York Times - For Tom Petty Fans, the True Sound of Vinyl, Also Captured on a CD

April 19, 2008 - Lafayette Journal Courier - For some, record stores live on

April 19, 2008 - New Jersey Star Ledger - It's Record Store Day. Play it again, Sam!

April 18, 2008 - New York Times - Record Stores Fight to Be Long-Playing

April 18, 2008 - Dallas Morning News - Retailers hope Record Store Day turns up volume at mom-and-pop shops

April 16, 2008 - Timeout New York - Platter Up

December 27, 2007 - Los Angeles Times - Virgin Megastore to close shop

December 16, 2007 - New York Times - For a "Dinosaur," an Exuberant Second Life (Looney Tunes Reopens)

December 3, 2007 - Detroit Free Press - The same old song: Music store closing

November 7, 2007 - Washington Post - Eagles soar past Britney to top of charts

November 4, 2007 - The Ledger - Two Young Entrepreneurs Unafraid of Risk of Going on Records

August 20, 2007 - Billboard - Almighty Taps Hans As VP

June 29, 2007 - ABC News - Long Live the Record Store

June 28, 2007 - Orange County Weekly - Locals Only

June 13, 2007 - Reuters - McCartney's Starbucks album heats up U.S. charts

June 9, 2007 - Billboard - Commentary: Retail Recovery

May 9, 2007 - Columbia Free Times - High Fidelity

March 22, 2007 - NARM Awards - Almighty Retail Named NARM Related Supplier Finalist For Third Consecutive Year

March 16, 2007 - Chortler - Shout! Factory Has Revamped Its Website

March 9, 2007 - - Internet killed the record store?

March 4, 2007 - Sacramento Bee - New groove for Solomon

February 28, 2007 - USA Today - Exclusives aim to pull music fans into stores

February 28, 2007 - New York Newsday - Latin record shops thrive despite changes in music business

February 23, 2007 - Montpelier Bridge - Buch Spieler Sails On Despite a Music Industry Decline

November 20, 2006 - Austin 360 - In Austin, Niche Indies Rule

October 20, 2006 - Sacramento Bee - Tower brand could survive

October 15, 2006 - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Tables have turned on record stores

October 14, 2006 - Sacramento Bee - Small labels lose valuable ally in Tower

October 6, 2006 - Desert Sun - Record Alley remodels

September 27, 2006 - Music & Copyright - Niche Marketing of CD albums continues to rise in the US and Physical Sales overall decline

September 22, 2006 - - Indie stores confront a new era

September 19, 2006 - New York Newsday - 34 years, and that's not all, folks

August 18, 2006 - The Roanoke Times - Plan 9 Music puts new spin on 5 Record Exchange stores

August 3, 2006 - The Hollywood Reporter - Nervous music retailers face hazy digital future

July 16, 2006 - New York Times - The Graying of the Record Store

July 13, 2006 - Rolling Stone - The iTunes Holdouts

July 11, 2006 - Roanoke Times - Record store's "last dance"

July 5, 2006 - Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader - Quimper Sound moves, expands to change with times

June 6, 2006 - Billboard - NARM Nominations Announced

May 10, 2006 - Detroit MetroTimes - Out of the Groove

March 18, 2006 - Billboard - Indies in a bind

January 16, 2006 - Los Angeles Business Journal - Slipped Discs

January 6, 2006 - Los Angeles Times - Indie record stores doing slow fade out

December 26, 2005 - Los Angeles Times - The Music Stops for Indie Shop

December 1, 2005 - Rolling Stone - Fall Sales Dry Up

October 13, 2005 - Desert Sun - Music snobs rejoice: Independent record stores still thrive in desert

September 12, 2005 - Salt Lake Tribune - Twilight for Starbound Records

August 18, 2005 - New York Post - Oldies are now singing a new tune - Music stores go digital

July 2005 - Rolling Stone - Record Biz Still Sinking

June 18, 2005 - Billboard - NARM Noms Announced

March 21, 2005 - CMJ - Hart of the Matter

February 16, 2005 - MSN - Genius Loves Company

October 12, 2004 - Rolling Stone - Wal-Mart wants $10 CDs

July 10, 2004 - Billboard - Almighty Institute To The Rescue

January 14, 2004 - Creative Loafing Charlotte - Manifest Destiny

December 29, 2003 - New York Times - on the rise of mass marketers

November 13, 2003 - Rolling Stone - Best Buy snags rights to band's new DVD

October 9, 2003 - USA Today - Best Buy wins sales rights to Rolling Stones DVD box set

October 6, 2003 - Reuters - Stones Paint It Black For Retailers

May 31, 2003 - Billboard - Retail Track

May 9, 2003 - Hits - Rerap

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