This week, venerated prog-rock band Pink Floyd won a court case against
its record label EMI. At issue was EMI's decision to sell certain Pink
Floyd songs as individual downloads, divorcing them from the
context of their full-length albums. According to Pink Floyd's contract
with EMI, the label can't just sell any song it likes; the band needs
to give its permission before a track can be made available as a
single. EMI contended that this clause only referred to physical
records, but the court ruled that the band's wish to "preserve the
artistic integrity of the albums" applies to digital formats as well.
The decision has been received as both a victory and a setback,
depending on how one feels about creative autonomy, online content
distribution, and Wish You Were Here.
- Huzzah! The Guardian's Dave Simpson
sees an unequivocal triumph. In his eyes, downloading music on a
song-by-song basis has brought about "the slow death of the album as a
creative form." Simpson guesses that "Michelangelo wouldn't have wanted
his Sistine Chapel ceiling to be chiselled into bits and flogged to
individual buyers," and argues that we should show similar respect for
Pink Floyd's "painstakingly crafted" LPs.
- Good For All Music
Lovers "You don't need to be a fan of The Wall, Pink Floyd, or concept
albums in general to sympathise with this ruling," writes David Stubbs
in The Independent. The full-length album can and should be an
immersive experience, he submits, one where "you are transported into a
band/artist's soundworld, over an arc of moods and ideas bound by a
cohesive and engaging musical vision ... If it has taken a rock
dinosaur to help stave off this idea from extinction, then so be it."
- Not So Fast Gadgetsteria's Mike
supports Pink Floyd in principle, but hopes other bands don't follow
their lead, since most artists simply aren't making work for the ages:
"When was the last time you purchased/downloaded an album and actually
liked every single song?" Mike is also uncomfortable with the music
industry trying to impose outdated purchasing habits on consumers.
"Digital music now gives consumers the choice" to pay only for the content they want, he writes. "Removing
that choice and trying to enforce an old physical, 'you have to buy the
entire album' approach just won't fly anymore."
- 'Get Over Yourself, Rog!' So jeers Nige,
the mononymous blogger behind Nigeness, who flatly declares that the
court case was "all about money." Nige points out that Pink Floyd
didn't have a problem with releasing singles back when it was hugely
profitable for them to do so. He or she also takes a few shots at
concept albums in general: "They were one of the worst ideas (sorry,
concepts) ever to occur to the drug-addled brain of a prog rock
noodler. Their appeal at the time was strictly limited to navel-gazers
with no sense of humour and too many drugs at their disposal."
Really Make Sense The A.V. Club's Jason Heller rolls his eyes at the
ruling. "There you go: listening to 'Money' or 'Comfortably Numb' sans those songs'
original contexts is doing Pink Floyd an aesthetic disservice," he
writes. "Now would Roger Waters please call every classic-rock radio
station in the world and tell them that?"
- 'The Bad Bits'
British spoof-newspaper The Daily Mash chimes in with an Onion-esque
headline: "Pink Floyd Force You to Listen to the Bad Bits." Though
satire from top to bottom, the piece clearly comes from a place of
familiarity with the band. "Tedious prog rockers group Pink Floyd have
won their legal bid to make you listen to every last bit of their
ghastly albums," the article begins. "The group argued that single song
downloads compromised the artistic integrity of the other tracks where
Roger Waters bangs a pair of a tubas together for 20 minutes."
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