Black Collar Workers


  • Axl Rosenberg


It made headlines recently when AC/DC guitarist Angus Young told the Telegraph that the band’s music isn’t on iTunes because “We don’t make singles, we make albums.” Other bands have expressed a similar attitude towards the single-friendly digital music store – Tool springs to mind – but in this day and age of iPods, creating playlists, illegal downloading, etc., one wonders if this position is even tenable.

Music biz guru Bob Lefsetz apparently feels the same way, as expressed in his latest rant:

“My blood started to boil when I read the quotes. Because these rich motherfuckers, who happen to have made some great music, are living in the nineties and ONLY care about money. There’s this lip service to creating albums that must be heard this way, but if that’s the case, why don’t they put out records that are one giant cut, so we’re FORCED to listen to the whole damn record.”

Lefsetz notes that “power of a full album” argument didn’t even really hold water in the pre-digital era (“I didn’t listen to Back In Black all the way through every time when I only had the VINYL!” he cries), accuses the band of hypocrisy (“Why don’t they ban singles from the radio too!”) and notes that “the cume of both Zeppelin and Metallica WENT UP after they were available on iTunes” before continuing:

“[AC/DC] are the second biggest catalog seller. Behind the Beatles. WHY? Because kids have traded their songs and found out how great their classics are. But now they want to fuck these same kids in the ass and make them buy their new album at Wal-Mart. So they can make fuckloads of money. The whole world is listening to files, shuffling their tracks, but these ignorant musicians from Down Under don’t seem to have gotten the message. Why don’t they tell everybody to give up their computers and use typewriters while they’re at it.

“The joke is illegal acquisition will dwarf CD sales. Whatever is sold legitimately will be distributed online INSTANTLY! Which is great for the band ultimately. Breeding new fans. But, like the rest of he industry, the band wants to ignore this. Even though without the aforementioned trading of the past decade their tour would not instantly sell out.

“At least throw kids a bone. Let them buy tracks legitimately… AC/DC’s album will be available track by track. And that’s how it will be listened to. The only difference is, THEY’RE NOT GOING TO GET PAID!”

Lefsetz makes a good point; bands like AC/DC can’t and won’t be able to stop people from listening to their album track by track or, ultimately, only owning the tracks he or she enjoy. But as a fan of the art of the complete album, it also feels as though there’s something defeatist about Lefsetz’s argument: just because you can’t win a fight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re should give up (It’s also worth noting that Lefsetz hasn’t liked any of the band’s albums since Back in Black – maybe he’d be less inclined to wage this war against a band he found more artistically relevant?).

So where do you stand? Should people only be allowed to purchase full albums? Is iTunes the death of music? Or are AC/DC just revealing themselves to be dinosaurs of a bygone era?


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