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Pink Floyd objects to EMI "unbundling" of online music

updated 05:25 pm EST, Tue March 9, 2010

Prog rock band claims album terms valid online

Progressive rock band Pink Floyd on Tuesday sued its label EMI for allegedly breaking the terms of its contract through online sales. The complaint accuses EMI of knowingly "unbundling" the band's songs by letting those at iTunes and other online music stores buy some songs individually, against terms that insist all the content of an album be sold as one item.

The band has long voiced its objection to sales by the track or being included as part of compilations as many of its albums, such as Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall, have songs that either flow directly into each other or are part of a singular album concept.

EMI has tried to deny the validity of the claim and says that the contract only covers physical albums and not digital sales. Pink Floyd attorney Robert Howe insists, however, that the long-term contract covers all formats.

A win by the band could have deep ramifications for sales of its music online, as many stores not only allow selling most Pink Floyd songs individually but in many cases have policies that would make album-only sales difficult. Apple is well-known for refusing to sell albums on iTunes that it can't separate into individual tracks and only bans per-track purchases for songs longer than 10 minutes. Radiohead's long-term absence on iTunes was often attributed to this issue, although Pink Floyd has been on most major Internet stores for years.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001


    uh what's the big deal

    anything Pink Floyd has done that's worth listening to, was recorded decades ago.

    unless you live in a cave, chances are someone you know has a Pink Floyd CD they can rip and share with you.

  1. dwoodruff

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2006


    an easy fix...

    seriously, just make it download album only, Why is this even and issue?

    Why didn't Pink Floyd sue radio stations in the seventies for playing singles?

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2006


    artistic license

    I'm with the band on this one - it should be their choice, not EMI's, especially since it's in the contract. Obviously it was the intention of the contract to not sell individual songs in any format - the contract doesn't specifically mention online sales because it was drawn up before iTunes, so nobody thought of it.

  1. facebook_Graham

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2010


    I'm with the consumer...

    Generally speaking, I back artists when it comes to disagreements with labels. I do buy albums, I do listen to the entire thing. But there is a principle at stake here.

    In this case, it's the consumer that is the most important. OK, so a band makes a complete album that is a unified concept. That's added value for someone that downloads and listens to it as a whole.

    And fair enough if you don't want your songs included in compilations, where the surrounding material and context may be wrong.

    But who does an artist think they are to dictate to their fans/consumers that they can ONLY listen to their songs in a certain way? It's my money, it's my time. Even if you could force me to buy an entire album, you can't force me to listen to all the tracks.

    If there is the capability to sell individual tracks, and an audience for them, then let it happen. The alternative is to condone piracy. It doesn't devalue the experience for anyone that does trust in the artistic process and buy the entire album.

  1. Bearcat

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2009



    Maybe they were progressive back in the 70's....

  1. CmdrGampu

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2009


    Overrated even back in the 70s

    Never bought any of their albums or songs and never will.

  1. sixcolors

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2001


    So I guess I won't buy their songs...

    Easy solution; if I want a pink floyd song I'll pirate it.

  1. blidd

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2003


    I think they have reacted a bid slow

    It has been possible to buy most of their songs on an ala carte basics for years. I do however agree with them, that their albums should be heard as a hole and not just as a song or 2. Pink Floyd is a group you either love or do not care about them. We who loves them are buying the albums we like. This is not about money it is about how they want to present their music. They do not need the Money.

    PS the last studio album was in 1994, that could be the reason why the havenĀ“t done anything noteworthy in more than a Decade;-)

  1. eldarkus

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2004



    They let radio stations play singles from these albums for like 20 years now. They offered the CD's with tracks so you can skip from one to the next. When they plan in concert, they do not play each album start to finish.. All of these things say "it's ok to hear our music on a per track basis".

    Imagine buying a painting, only to have the artist tell you where to hang it in your home, what color the wall should be and what angle you have to look at it.

    Now, if it's in the contract and pertains to digital sales, then I agree with them. But it still comes across as very pretentious.

  1. edinburghmac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2004


    Artists and business?

    Recording artists 'should' have the right to say how they want their output sold. However, most recording artists from this era signed contracts that were essentially worthless and the music labels have used their 'ownership' of these works over the last 30 years to bleed the fans dry by selling re-hashes of this music ever since (LP, compilation, music-cassette, CD, re-mastered CD, 'definitive' remastered CD, 30th anniversary remastered CD, 40th anniversary remastered CD etc.).

    Many artists from this era have had to fight in the courts to re-establish their rights to the ownership and distribution of this material after it has often been illegally distributed by record labels against the artist wishes and with zero payment of royalties - they should have the right to present this to the 'consumer' how they see fit. If they want to sell you an album and you just want one song - you can either buy the album and just listen to one song, don't buy the album at all, or 'steal' the song you want from file sharing sites or borrow the album (CD) from a friend and tape (rip) the song you want (anyone remember 'Home taping is killing music'). Most of the taping of friends albums or downloading from file sharing sites has stimulated me to go out and buy the CD where I have the opportunity to actually buy it. The only music I've ever 'bought' from iTunes are a couple of 'Coke bottle top freebies' which were bonus tracks added to CD's I'd already bought (and wasn't going to buy again for one extra track).

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