DEF LEPPARD's Music (Not) On iTunes/Spotify (A Brief History)
Def Leppard's digital music dispute with Universal Records is set to end later this week and here is the story of how it began.
The band are set to make their entire catalogue available on all digital platforms for the first time this week.
This includes streaming them on Spotify and making all songs available to buy on iTunes and Amazon.
The reason for the lack of music can be traced back to an ongoing dispute between the band and their old label Universal Records.
In April 2010 Rick Savage announced that the band's catalogue would be officially released on iTunes for the first time.
This did not end up happening and was later revealed to be because a label executive had backtracked on a deal which had been agreed. An executive later (and most eloquently) referred to by Joe as "some tw*t at the label...".
Shown below are the major events in the history of the band's involvement (and non-involvement) with iTunes/Spotify.
The big announcement on Friday could well include some song versions recorded for the iTunes Originals series in 2006, new exclusive versions/videos and/or a new single.
Another iTunes possibility is a full catalogue release - all songs available in one purchase. U2 released a digital iTunes box set in 2004 titled 'The Complete U2' with 446 tracks included from 1978-2004.
Many artists are now releasing Spotify Singles with up to two live versions released alongside videos of the same tracks.
Visit thesection for more news on new music (based on band member quotes).
Def Leppard On iTunes/Spotify - A (not so) Brief History
2006 (May) - First Official iTunes Single
'Rock On' (album version) was released as the band's first official iTunes single in the UK store with custom artwork specific to this release.
2006 (Sep) - iTunes Session Revealed
An interview with Phil Collen revealed the band had recorded versions of three classic songs at a studio in California. They were intended for release on iTunes. The songs recorded were - 'Let It Go', 'Foolin' and 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak'. Not long after a few Lep albums that were being sold on the service were removed (including 'Slang'). At this time the 'Vault' album was still available.
September 2006 - Phil Collen Quote
"We done live studio versions, I'm not sure when it will be coming out. They have a lot more edge than the records actually, I think."
Update - Six songs in total were actually recorded and have nowon 'The Lost Session' Live EP.
2008 (April) - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge
The new studio album was released on iTunes alongside the video for 'Nine Lives' and to Spotify. It was available with 12 tracks and 13 tracks featuring the UK bonus songs. The album was later removed in 2010 once the dispute began.
The 'Sparkle Lounge' album concluded the band's recording contract and obligations to Universal Records. All future releases would be put out on Bludgeon Riffola alongside distribution deals with Mailboat Records and Frontiers Records.
2010 (April) - iTunes Announcement By Rick Savage
During a radio interview with BBC Sheffield on 10th April 2010 Sav announced that the band's back catalogue would be released officially on iTunes and digital outlets for the first time. It was also revealed a 30th anniversary box set commemorating 30 years since the debut album would be released.
In another interview in Sheffield Joe and Sav confirmed the iTunes news and that the band were working on 'live material'. The live material turned out to be 2011's 'Mirrorball' album. It was later revealed that the digital deal with Universal had been scrapped. The box set's non appearance was also a consequence of the dispute.
10th April 2010 - Rick Savage Interview Quotes
"You need a new angle, you can't just keep repeating yourself and we need to write some new songs. We're putting together some live work. There's also gonna be the first official launching of Def Leppard songs on iTunes. Which has never really happened in the past due to contractual obligations or - problems! should I say with our previous record company. So that's all happening towards the end of the year and that will be the stepping stone for Def Leppard to get back on the road...maybe Spring/Summer of next year."
30th April 2010 - The Star (Sheffield) Article Quote
"They are writing new material, plan to release live recordings, a box set and will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album with their music available for download on iTunes."
2010 (Sep) - Album's Added To Spotify/we7
Five Def Leppard albums were added to Spotify on 10th September 2010. 'On Through The Night', 'High 'n' Dry', 'Pyromania', 'Hysteria' and 'YEAH!'. A total of 59 tracks. (Some of us still have those albums on a Def Leppard playlist.)
In early October these five albums plus 'Slang', 'Vault', 'Retro-Active' and 'Adrenalize' were also added to UK streaming site we7 (110 tracks in all). They were available to stream and were also available to buy.
As of 12th October 2010 all albums were removed from Spotify and we7. 'High 'n' Dry' remained on Spotify for a short time before also being removed.
Once again it was later revealed by the band that their management requested the takedown due to the original recording contract which stated Universal were not allowed to add the band's music to digital services.
2011 - Mirrorball Album On iTunes/Spotify
The live album and all new releases since were issued on iTunes and Spotify. In June 2011 the band publicly denounced Universal Records at the Kerrang! Awards in London by collectively giving them the middle finger as they accepted an award.
2012 - ROA/PSSOM Re-Recordings/Dispute Issues Revealed
New re-recordings of two classics were released before the 2012 'Rock Of Ages' tour and on the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise movie. Joe explained the full reasons for the new recordings and talked about the dispute with Universal Records in many interviews for the first time. Read five excerpts from interviews below done between 2011 and 2016.
Joe Elliott - July 2012 Interview Quotes
"Our contract is such that they can't do anything with our music without our permission, not a thing. So we just sent them a letter saying, 'No matter what you want, you are going to get "no" as an answer, so don't ask.' That's the way we've left it. We'll just replace our back catalog with brand new, exact same versions of what we did."
Joe Elliott - August 2012 Interview Quotes
"It's about principle. I'd be lying if I didn't say it was about money because the problem we've got is, they want to pay us what we think is a ridiculously low rate. It’s a well-known fact: Artists throughout the years have always been shafted by record companies. … The reason we're being so sticky about it is because two years ago, we made a deal with a gentleman at Universal who was pretty much on our side -- he was a fan, a smart businessman and a fair guy -- and we shook hands. Fifteen days later, somebody above his head said the deal's not going through. To an Englishman, when you shake hands, it's a binding contract, and Universal reneged on it. So we dug in our heels and said, “We're gonna say a blanket no to anything that you ask for."
"They can't release our back catalog, we're not going to let them put a song on a compilation unless we want it there, and they'll never be able to license. They won’t be able to do anything without our permission because that’s in our contract."
"We want to get the same rate for digital as we do when we sell CDs, and they're trying to give us a rate that doesn't even come close. They illegally put up our songs for a while, paying us the rate they chose without even negotiating with us, so we had our lawyer take them down."
"When you do your own recordings, you're making about 85 percent and 15 percent goes to iTunes or whichever particular digital domain you put them up. Something along those lines would be fair. But they were offering us the opposite -- a quarter of what we get paid on our CDs. So we thought if we can't get them to pay us a decent rate on the digital, then we're going to go in, rerecord them and pay ourselves decently."
Joe Elliott - January 2013 Interview Quotes
"We're trying to wrestle back our career and ownership of these songs. They [Universal] own the originals, we're at loggerheads with them over the digital rights. And as long as they're playing silly buggers we'll just keep recording them again."
"Until we can come to some kind of humane conclusion to this ridiculous stand-off, we're going to say: 'Fuck you!' We were offered a great deal two years ago and shook hands on it. And then some other twat at the label put a stop to it. It's our life and our music and we're not going to let them exploit us to the extent that they're trying to."
"Between us and Bon Jovi we fucking built that company. We built their penthouse sushi bar, wherever it may be, and they just treated us like shit. We can either roll over like little dandelions or we can stand up and punch them in the bollocks. And that's exactly what we're doing."
Rick Allen - February 2016 Interview Quote
"The royalty rates they were talking about giving us is a joke. It seems insane to me the record company continues to let this go."
Joe Elliott - June 2011 Interview Quote
"I'm not going to use 'dispute,' but we're in negotiations with our now ex-record company and until we come up with some satisfactory decision, a relatively sane offer to put the music up, then we won't do it because we won't put our music up for free. They're not allowed to put it up, we can actually stop them - we have stopped them doing it. We will go with rerecording our own back catalog ourselves or come to some kind of negotiation."
2013 (Mar) - Hysteria Re-Recording Added To iTunes/Spotify
To celebrate the VIVA! Hysteria residency in Las Vegas a new recording of the classic song was released added to all streaming and digital services. It was later revealed the band were also working on a new version of 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak'.
2013 (Sep) - VIVA! Hysteria Added/Removed
The 'VIVIA! Hysteria' live album was added to iTunes for only one day before it was removed from sale. Only the live film remains available to buy digitally. It was also added to Spotify and is still there.
2015 (Apr) - Best of Def Leppard Album Added To Spotify
The UK version of the 2004 'Best Of Def Leppard' album featuring 34 songs appeared on Spotify only to be removed within a few days.
2017 - (Apr) - Archive Series Announced
As The Def Leppard E.P. was reissued for Record Store Day 2017 it was revealed a new series of reissues from the band would begin with its release. Rumours of a vinyl box set also surfaced and the possibility of the Universal Records dispute ending. 'Adrenalize' appeared as a digital download on Amazon's USA site later in the year.
2017 - (Aug) - Joe Elliott Says Digital Catalogue Online Soon
Joe gave an interview promoting the 'Hysteria' 30th anniversary edition and suggested a deal to put the band's catalogue on iTunes and streaming services would happen soon and that the band were "working on it".
August 2017 - Joe Elliott Quote
"Yeah downloads are big. Our back catalogue is not up on iTunes or anything like that because we didn't have an agreement with the record label to do it. But we're just working on that now. So hopefully all our stuff will be up."
2018 (January) - Rick Allen Says Digital Deal Done
Rick Allen confirmed in an interview on 11th January that the band had now reached a digital rights deal with Universal Records. The first hint that the band's music would be made available online. It was later noticed the three re-records had been removed from digital services including iTunes and Spotify. Sav's son later confirmed this.
11th January 2018 - Rick Allen Interview Quotes
"That's another good question. Our record company finally came to the table and we sorted out the digital rights and I hope that that will be available soon."
"Not really. It is, it's been a personally annoyance of mine for a long time and you know when we first made a lot of these records digital didn't exist. So there was never any provision out in there. So we're trying to work that out."
January 2018 - Tyler Savage Twitter Quotes
"As a result of Def leppard's music being added to Spotify and other digital platforms all of their re-recorded versions will be taken down."
"This Friday..... #DefLeppard."
2018 (19th January) - All will be revealed.
And as of that date news stories like this will no longer need to be written.
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