Should AC/DC Be On iTunes?

Earlier this week, rock legends AC/DC announced that their entire back catalogue was going to be made available on iTunes. Today, Billboard is reporting that the move has seen a spike in sales for the band.

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Earlier this week, rock legends AC/DC announced that their entire back catalogue was going to be made available on iTunes. Today, Billboard is reporting that the move has seen a spike in sales for the band. Since their music became available through the online retailer on Monday November 19th, the band has sold 48,000 albums and 696,000 individual tracks in the U.S alone. But the news is significant for far more than just sales statistics.

Five years ago, the factor that was keeping iTunes from dominating the music retail market was the handful of big selling artists refusing to sign up to the service. The back catalogues of The Beatles, Metallica, Oasis, Pink Floyd, and the aforementioned Aussie mega-band are some of the most profitable collections of music in the global marketplace, and iTunes wasn't seeing a penny from any of them. But times have quickly changed. Long time iTunes hold-out Kid Rock's caving to the service a couple of weeks ago was an indicator of that, and AC/DC's recent conversion feels like one of the final pieces in the puzzle.

But should they have done it? AC/DC, along with many of their rock alumni, had long maintained that a major reason for steering away from iTunes was the service's tendency to break up artists' albums into disparate tracks, altering the way that these records are listened to. Artists were anxious about the end of the album, the form that, since the 1960s, has often been considered the home of rock music's artistic merit. Looking at AC/DC's first week sales statistics, their worst fears appear to have been realized. Compare, for example, the 84,000 units that their biggest selling single track, "Thunderstruck" sold with the mere 15,000 for the "Back In Black" album.

Perhaps breaking up albums isn't such a problem for a song orientated band like AC/DC. For concept orientated acts like Pink Floyd though, it's clearly more of an issue. That was fully realized back in 2010, when the Floyd pulled their music from online retailers after EMI violated an agreement that records such as "Dark Side Of The Moon" would only be sold in full album bundles. Flash forward to 2012, however, and the music of messrs. Waters and Gilmour is back on iTunes and still available in single track form. The breaking up of albums is probably the reason that prog-metallers Tool are one of the final holdouts from digital music distribution.

Their signing up to iTunes means that future generations might never listen to an AC/DC album again. Does it matter though? Have AC/DC sold-out to the inevitable digital music machine, or does the breaking up of their album catalogue into disparate tracks put consumers firmly in control of how they engage with the band's music? Do albums like "Dark Side Of The Moon" have to be listened in full? Or should listeners be able to pick and choose from conceptual pieces as they see fit? Let us know in the comments.

83 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Scourge441
    There's really no point to not being on iTunes at this point. If they can't buy it there, they'll use a Youtube downloader or something. Once you release an album to the public, you can no longer control how people enjoy it. Holding out from iTunes in order to control how people listen to it is an exercise in futility, and limiting the means through which fans can access your music is only going to be harmful to yourself in the long run. And there's always going to be a market for the full-length album. There are more than enough fans of the format that it won't go away. But taking a reactionary stance against the shift from albums to single songs doesn't benefit anyone.
    ridinglightning
    I think that it's up to the band to put it on iTunes, but how the album is listened to should be up to the listener.
    liam_gal
    selling individual songs might confuse people. They're gonna think that they bought the same song again, LMAO! Get it?
    Alcofuel
    Your joke was fine in concept, but the execution was terrible. Please don't quit your day job.
    Camron62\m/
    People just don't know how to buy FULL ALBUMS off iTunes anymore. The ability to buy a single song off iTunes should be gone, unless it's an OFFICIAL single. Otherwise, just buy the full albums....
    Sammy Mantis
    I'm a fan of the album format, but it has been helpful to be able to purchase single songs. Some of my CD's are very heavily worn and I wasn't able to upload a song or two onto my itunes, so it's nice to be able to get the missing songs without having to re-purchase the whole album.
    KingV911
    I agree, and in some cases I know I don't want most of the album. For instance I like the song Broken, Beaten, and Scarred off of Death Magnetic - I could do without the rest of the album. Nice I didn't have to buy the whole thing.
    SOADplayer2
    That'll help to stop piracy, by reducing people's choice on a legal way to get music..
    GeekInThePink
    I'm into listening to albums and I find it much better than listening to singles, but come on, people. Why does it matter to you how other people buy/listen to music? Quit being so petty.
    getawaygman
    I have to say this. I was 11 when American idiot came out and was obsessed with the main hit, boulevard of broken dreams. however, in green day's attempt to get people to buy the fut album they the hit singles available in album purchasd only. so we got the full album, and I loved it in its entire form. this introduced me onto buying full albums, which is all I do now. so many bands should do that. don't make the bsides album only. make the singles album only and I bet more people would buy back in black opposed to thunderstruck
    GeekInThePink
    "I have to say this." No. No you didn't.
    ZeligtheAxMan
    He did, he's makin a huge point! The fact that it's Green Day should be irrelevant. Learning to hear full albums is a huge plus, I have very few friends whom I've convinced to but those that have thank me whenever it comes up. Anybody can listen to music however they care to but they should just know, the album experience, concept or not, is tremendous!!
    notaconotaco
    iTunes always has albums where you can only get some of the songs if you buy the whole album. Can't they do that for every song on each album?
    sideslick
    Didn't Pink Floyd do that with Dark Side of the Moon at one point? If I remember correctly, they argued that the album should be listened to in its entirety.
    K!!LsWiTcH
    bands including the beatles have been releasing singles and such since the beginning so it doesnt really matter. like zeppelin ok because they specifically did not put out singles so that people would only listen to their albums but in the case of most artists from that time period it doesnt matter its kind of the same
    rockfreak611
    ah, but the Beatles always released singles of songs that weren't on their albums or that were a different version from what was on the album, which honestly is one of the smartest tactics I've ever seen from a band.
    IrishConnor1994
    The purpose of singles for earlier bands was promotion, people would buy the single, and if the liked it, and wanted more, they would buy the album. And if they didn't like the song, they could sell the single Now people just download the singles.
    Nickpocalypse
    AC/DC does what it wants. If iTunes can increase the exposure of this legendary band, then more power to it.
    TimLarkin
    RegularMexicola
    Why do I have to see this on every article I see?
    Firehawk2410
    Because it's unfortunately relevant to every article we see.
    RealUnrealRob
    Most of ACDC's albums are just like most bands'; they're mostly mediocre filler material. Not allowing people to buy singles would just result in people torrenting them or using P2P. I agree with Peter Griffin on this one.
    scawti
    I can see a band like Tool holding out, when the whole package is part of the experience along with the music. However, AC/DC is more a 'single' band. I am happy to buy the song Heatseeker without the rest of Blow Up Your Video.
    Scissortooth
    Don't a lot of bands release a greatest hits album? It's just selected songs that are their hits which is similar to people buying select songs they like from the band. I can't see how it would hurt any band ever to be on iTunes. You could have released an album in 1992 and it might be still selling well mainly because people are buying the album from Itunes. Seriously, your music is always available to be purchased at any time very easily. How is that bad? I've bought 2 tracks from a band before. After listening to the tracks many times, I decided to buy the rest of the album because I enjoyed the songs I already bought. If a band I likes releases a new album, then I buy the entire album day 1 just like most people
    swave75
    Couldn't agree more. Lots of bands have several greatest hits album. Often times they put different songs on each greatest hits albums and even sometimes live versions of songs and the live versions are not that great. If you really like the band, you would want all their songs off their albums.
    Lennertruelens
    I will always buy a hard copy of the album from any band. U miss out on all the nice artwork. Some bands really put much effort in the artwork. Haven't and never will buy any song from iTunes
    bearmod
    Back when iTunes launched it made sense that some of the bands didn't want to do this just cause it was a new service and all that but at this point they might as well just give in. iTunes, and Apple by extension, aren't going anywhere. Might as well bring in some extra money while you still can.
    Riggy
    'Should AC/DC Be On iTunes?' Yes. As should whomever else is refusing to put their stuff on it. You're only hurting yourselves. It is an established, reliable and modern method of digitally distributing music, anywhere on the planet. People are going to get a hold of the music digitally regardless, the option for it to be obtained legitimately has to be there.
    UniformRecon
    iTunes has basically killed mainstream music's legitimacy in that you can simply buy single songs rather than a whole album, which leads to new fans of a band only knowing a few great hits compared to a really good fan who would know more of a band's back catalog. It really makes for a closed minded consumer market, which is really disappointing.
    Alcofuel
    I think it has contributed to that, but there have been a lot of people like that. It's pretty much why Greatest Hits albums actually sell.
    Waylor
    It's great Tool haven't done this yet, especially with Lateralus & 10,000 days being such great physical packages. It obviously isn't because they are against iTunes because I have seen Maynard reference his habit of buying tv shows + movies through the service multiple times. Just wish the new album would hurry up, 6 years and counting...
    Master31
    but Undertow should be on itunes there's nothing special about the artwork (there just pictures unlike Aenima's holographic cover, Lateralus's "layered" booklet and 10,000 days's 3D booklet) i mean iTunes can just release the 11 songs on the album and have all the pictures as a bonus like they do with new albums
    third(-)eye
    Not to mention, APC and Puscifer are both on iTunes. It's just a matter of stylistic differences.
    IronMaiddden
    It doesn't really matter. They are one of the most overrated bands of all time. And why the **** would you use iTunes when get this shit for free?? Long live PirateBay!!!!!
    SlimeyGrimey
    In my opinion, the major turning point was when the compact disc came about. With it came the "skip" button. Since CD's, people have had the option to skip over tracks that they didn't want to listen to. I suppose you could do the same with a vinyl record by placing the needle in the spot on the record where a song begins, but it's far more tedious to do that than to simply sit down and listen. 8-track tapes didn't even give you the option - straight playthrough was the way to go. Cassette tapes gave us the option of fast-forwarding and rewinding, but you still had to listen for the end of one track to find the beginning of the next. Should AC/DC be on iTunes? Only if they want to appeal to a much wider demographic that might not otherwise hear their hits, which (hopefully) will lead them to consider getting the entire record and giving it a spin.
    pearns
    some people live 1000ks from the nearest shop and Itunes is a legal and vital tool for these people to hear their favourite bands
    IrishConnor1994
    I'm actually really happy about this, I have all their albums on CD, but I didn't have Bonfire, or Backtracks and couldn't find them anywhere, until they were on iTunes
    nightwalker903
    I've only just got into iTunes since getting an iPad. But some bands I only like select songs from and wouldn't buy an album by them. On the other hand downloading their single on a torrent site has led me to buy physical copies of their album and became a massive fan. Other bands I have bought a physical copy of an album on the basis of a single and been very disappointed. But I am going more toward legal copies of music rather than torrents so iTunes is a great way to sample a band. And I think a band like ac dc who have been around for years then any way to keep making sales off their albums isn't a bad thing. A band is a business and money is money. If I ever get to the point of releasing an album I would rather have 85,000 sales of one song with the potential for some to buy the whole album then little amount of sales of the whole album because I didn't give them the choice to download single tracks
    Mike Quall
    I personally wouldn't give a horses penis. who doesn't buy their entire album anyway?
    bigalpringle
    I love it how people seem to ignore the fact that, even when you buy a whole album on cd/vinyl, you can still skip the tracks you don't want to listen to. Buying an album doesn't guarantee that people are going to sit down and listen to it in it's entirety every time. Why should AC/DC, Pink Floyd et al really care whether people break up their albums as long as they enjoy listening to it? Would they rather people not listen to them at all? Or even worse, STEAL the entire album? Pink Floyd - miles ahead of their time musically, but stone-age in their approach to modern music.
    IrishConnor1994
    They just thought that no one buys full albums unless they have to, and putting their music on itunes would mean that 2-3 songs per album would sell, thus people would only know, or hear 2-3 songs off a 10 song album.
    Dreaminmusic
    AC/DC was awesome in 7th grade when more kids start to learn guitar and whatnot but I don't think that I could sit through a full album by them by choice anymore. I recognize them as a great band and all but it gets boring in my opinion and I just don't know anyone around my age [20] that listens to them anymore [yes I know, PEMN].
    thrill606
    I'm glad they're on itunes. Now I wish the old Def Leppard studio recordings where on there.
    cool_hand_luc
    Truth is i totally understood what ACDC was doing with the whole album thing, and its true. there are some great songs by them.. like im talkin their BEST songs are ones that arent necessarily their singles, such as two's up or little lover or walk all over you. On the other hand.. ACDC released that useless "Iron man 2" compilation album... and what was it? Select individual singles from various albums so how is that any different than buying individual singles from various albums on itunes
    METAL JEFF
    ac who?They suck anyway,who cares?
    shamalama33
    i think so, i mean, if not, i think legal disputes shouldnt affect the availability of the bands music, now that i have "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" on my Ipod, im a happy man
    third(-)eye
    If they want to join iTunes, that's up to them. Who are we to tell them what they can/can't do with their music?
    huntercry
    Ye ofc they can be. If it comes to me I never buy music from internet. I BUY GOOD OLD CD'S and LP'S
    Master31
    the real question is should king crimson be on iTunes?
    repoTHEemo
    From what I understand, Crimson isn't on ITunes because Fripp's had multiple disputes between music sharing and record companies, but not putting him in the wrong here. I'd like to see King Crimson on ITunes, but I'd also like to see Tool and Zappa and we can only hope.
    Firehawk2410
    I don't know about you guys or the rest of the world, but buying single songs on iTunes has prompted me to buy whole albums either on iTunes or on CD. I wouldn't have 9 Aerosmith CDs if it weren't for iTunes introducing me to their greatest hits. It's just a convenient way for me to "test run" new artists before I buy a whole album.
    PoloSG68
    What's the difference between this and having CDs? No matter what medium you can skip to your favorite song on it. What's stopping them from just putting one hour long LP in one track on Itunes anyway?
    Anjohl
    A lot of the time, I buy a song or two from an album, and "fill it in" later via comlete my album.
    SurfinWithSatch
    So in 2 weeks they have sold 48,000 albums, almost all of which are albums that were released comfortably over 10 years ago (excluding Black Ice which is still 4 years old) there are a heck of a lot of bands/artists that don't see those album sales in 2 weeks from say 4 or 5 albums released in the last 10 years. My point being that most AC/DC fans will already own their albums, so the fact they are still selling - in this one medium, in just 2 weeks - in the tens of thousands is not something you'd see many artists complaining about.
    FlyingPirahna
    I seriously don't understand the problem. AC/DC has pretty much always been a hits band anyway, and I can't see one of the most commercial rock acts ever holding out for artistic purposes.
    musicman14579
    AC/DC deserves to be on iTunes. If a listener would prefer to listen to songs and get the single experience let them. For all true fans, buy the album. I personally only buy CDs when purchasing albums, but digital is good too.