Pink Floyd Victory Challenges Individual Track Sales

Being able to purchase individual tracks rather than entire albums is one of the more appealing aspects of buying music online. However, an ongoing dispute between Pink Floyd and its label underlines how ill-defined the legal situation regarding downloads can be.

A clause in Pink Floyd's EMI contract barred the label from releasing its music in any form other than albums — a clause originally designed to limit the release of singles , but one which Pink Floyd has now successfully argued also prohibits the sale of individual tracks as downloads without its consent. EMI hasn't yet removed individual Pink Floyd tracks from iTunes and other services, but may well be ordered to do so.

Only a small minority of musicians are likely to have contracts that give them that degree of control over how recordings are used. It's also not entirely unheard of already for acts to effectively force album purchases: for instance, individual tracks on compilations are often blocked unless the entire album is purchased. If nothing else, the case is a reminder that online sales aren't always seen as a boon for performers, no matter how much consumers like them.

Do you think artists should be able to specify album-only purchases, or does consumer freedom rank higher than artistic intent? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Pink Floyd win EMI court ruling over online sales [BBC News]


    "Do you think artists should be able to specify album-only purchases, or does consumer freedom rank higher than artistic intent?"

    Surely no-one over primary school age would think that because they want something, Pink Floyd (or anyone else) is obliged to provide it?

    PF make the music, and if they consider the album format essential to its integrity, they're entitled to make it only available that way. Ultimately they may suffer commercially from this, but it's their choice. Hard to see how anyone other than a spoiled brat could argue otherwise.

    I have always opposed the current track only Downloads.

    A single is not 1 track - it was always at least 2.
    An album should be only downloadable in its full and complete an album is.
    Individual tracks should be ineligable to chart unless downloaded as part and parcel of a "singles package"

      So if I write a bunch of unrelated songs, I shouldn't be allowed to release them individually? Who should stop me? The law? American corporations?

      I haven't yet seen an argument that even hints at convincing that any of this is the business of anyone other than the musos concerned.

    Good comments here. I'm inclined to agree with the artists, that they should have the right to choose whether an album stays as an album - most bands do write a bunch of songs and put them together on an album, but there are some who deliberately construct the whole thing. Pink Floyd are particularly sensitive, ever since Another Brick in the Wall was used as a single and taken out of context. I know Nine Inch Nails used to feel the same way - the Downward Spiral has all the track breaks in the middle of songs, making it annoying to put in in a list on shuffle

    PF wrote and recorded the song and should have the right to distribute it as they see fit. Many of their albums are brilliant works of art as an album and only mediocre as a bunch of individual songs.
    ACDC also only do albums.
    While it does narrow their markets, it hasn't seemed to had much impact on either bands bottom line (nice to see them stick to their guns and not follow the dollars)

    The Floyd are the kings of creating a whole experience. Many of their songs are brilliant on their own. Others would seem like meaningless psychodelic weirdness from a bunch of smelly old hippies, without being in the context of the whole album where these songs are a continuation of musical themes shared in other parts of the album.

    The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. That is the way they designed it and as artists it would be painful to have their baby cut into pieces. Try convincing the Louvre Museum in Paris to take to the Mona Lisa with scissors so that parts of it can be displayed in multiple locations throughout the world, allowing more people to enjoy it.

    In order to protect Pink Floyd's artistic integrity, I suggest we only allow radio stations to play the full albums.

    Likewise, any mashups, remixes or other derivative music based around Pink Floyd's artistic works, must be based on the entire album as well.

    Pink Floyd should be able to decide if they want to just release tracks or a whole album. As they see an album as a whole work of art and not just a list of singles. Albums like The Wall, Animal and Dark Side of the Moon tell a story and just getting individual tracks would take it out of context.

    I remember the back of a Lou Reed CD (think it was New York). Had something like "this album is meant to be listened from start to finish as if viewed like a book or a movie".

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