Why you can’t buy AC/DC songs on iTunes

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AC/DC guitarist Angus Young explains it very simply in his high voltage comments on a Telegraph story about the state of the music industry:

“We don’t make singles, we make albums.”

Well that’s one view, I suppose. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall during that interview. What else did he have to say?

“If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album – and we don’t think that represents us musically.”

Well Angus, some might suggest that you should keep a stiff upper lip and think about who made who: how did you get where you are today?

In the article, Angus points out that back-of-envelope calculations at the beginning of AC/DC’s career showed that it would be more sensible — and more profitable — to sell albums rather than singles.

But things have changed, leaving the music business thunderstruck. Now that people buy more individual songs, perhaps a better option would be to simply churn out lots and lots of songs. Perhaps the album is dead, but the song isn’t. Moneytalks.

With a flick of the switch, AC/DC can skate over the black ice of destiny and find their way back to black. This is a hell or high water moment for them. They’ve got to get back in business.

I’ll give it up now.

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  • jp

    “We don’t make singles…” is a lie – I have an AC DC single. OK, so it’s old (vinyl), from the days AC DC was selling these expensive picture disc singles… These dinosaurs have to catch up – anyone send them an ‘Internet for Dummies’?

  • bayonetbrant

    “I’ll give it up now.”

    *that* line is about 4 paragraphs too late… :)

  • Ska

    Perhaps if AC/DC actually made songs that sounded vastly different from each other, then maybe people would download more songs.
    Loved the ‘Back In Black’ album but after and before that they sound like they were copying their own material! I personally feel ACDC material is just like LEGO; no matter what gets created it’s the same pieces mixed and matched!
    Anyway, idiots will not understand the strategy behind iTunes. We all saw Radiohead making tall claims, earlier this year, that they will sell their own records sans any Music Publishing Co. and that they definitely won’t be selling on iTunes Store.

    A few months pass and they meekly see sense and beg their way in. They’re available on iTunes for 9.99, like everyone else!
    HA!

  • Brad

    “Now that people buy more individual songs, perhaps a better option would be to simply churn out lots and lots of songs. Perhaps the album is dead, but the song isn’t. Moneytalks.” Are you kidding me? So now AC/DC’s main objective should be to sell as much as possible? They’re artists not businessmen. Let them distribute their creations however they want.

  • DAK

    AC/DC? They’ve become irrelevant. I didn’t listen to them when they were active. I don’t miss them on iTunes. There’s too much music to pick from. They can be easily ignored and it’s not a great loss. By not updating their technology attitude, they are dooming themselves to oblivion. Good riddance.

  • Avalon0387

    Lets look at the logic. Radio doesn’t play albums. They play single songs, one at a time.
    Now, does AC/DC prevent radio from playing individual songs? I didn’t think so.
    And lets not forget… isn’t Angus approaching 60? They’re not so young anymore.

  • Adam

    I agree, when the new guy came along AC/DC went down hill. Ever since the passing of Bon, there was a long way to the top. And while selling singles may seem like a problem, it never stopped them from jumping on a flat-bed truck and marching down Swanston St….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  • minimalist

    I get that artists want to control how their art is seen or heard but ultimately they cant because listeners have free will. And just because you sell a whole CD doesn’t mean you can force people to listen to it in its entirety. So by throwing a little fit about iTunes and trying to be such a control freak all you are really accomplishing is turning off your fans. A little trust and goodwill would go a lot farther than this ridiculous strong arming.

    If you music is worth listening to from start to finish a true fan will do it anyway (even if the songs can be purchased separately). A casual listener may listen to just a hit or two but this is no different than when you only sold albums and CD’s except you are not forcing them to pay for stuff they are going to ignore because presumably you think its good for them. You will encourage far more people to listen to your music as a whole through trust and force.

  • BrotherShane

    Why don’t they make their songs an “album only” purchase on iTunes then?

  • david owens

    I only like one of their songs. the rest are trash. most of them are a few days away from a retirement home. who cares?

  • Mark

    AC/DC is the best rock band that ever was and they can do whatever the hell they want! I got two tickets to their Vancouver concert ( which sold out in 4 minutes breaking a record in the city ) I would have gladly paid 500 or 600 each for tickets if it was sold out. Lucky for me I only had to pay 100 each. Tickets are now sellng for over 1000 each. Does this sound like people think thier crap? NO you are alone in that respect. You will be in a retirement home one day, they only difference is that you won’t be remembered like AC/DC. You are a very insulting and rude person David. You have offended me, I have loved them for many years.

  • theguycalledtom

    minimalist is on the ball. Even if people buy the cd, you still can’t force them to listen to the album in the correct order. If you really want your fans to listen to your music in the right way, preach it to them on your blog or whatever and true fans will listen and obey.

    Many people, as they become deeper fans of music, generally tend to end up listening to music as albums anyway, as the artist generally intends.

    Apple could still do more to improve the way Albums are organised on iTunes. The new album view is an improvement, but why can’t they integrate it into Coverflow like on the iPhone? That iPhone interface really makes listening to music by the album more compelling. I don’t understand why they don’t do it on iTunes!

  • Mythical

    That was an awful read! It hit my balls to the wall…

  • Andrew DK

    AC-Who?

  • Hvalborg

    So when a classic hard rock band doesn’t want to sell out to iTunes, then they are crap? AC/DC don’t have to apologize to any ignorant teenagers for being one of the biggest and best bands in history, plus I would guess they don’t need the extra cash either. Single song listeners don’t know what real music is, FM and now iTunes breeds tone deaf sheep.

  • Norman

    “We make albums not singles”

    Didn’t Metallica use that excuse way back when? Avast Ye Scurvy Dogs! Prepare to be boarded!

  • Mark

    What’ya mean AC/DC who? The best rock band that ever lived that’s who. You must have been under a rock for the last 30 years.

  • Peruchito

    what do you mean? i have AC/DC on my itunes.

    oh yeah, i illegally downloaded them when i couldn’t buy it on itunes. oh well, i’ll buy your album next time i am at a cd shop… do those still exist btw?

  • Maarten

    Ac/D……….who?????

    Nobody I know is even buying CD’s anymore, in my town there’s ONE music store just to cater for really old people.

  • Terry

    Why would you put real music on a tinny piece of iPod cr@p anyway!!!???

  • Jenny

    “They’ve got to get back in business. ” – you idiot – they are the business!!!!

  • Mick

    @Maarten – you must be on your own little planet.

  • Daniel

    Wow – all the ACDC people are coming out in defense of the band – cute.

    Anyways, really ACDC is only hurting their fans. I mean when people buy CDs, they inevitably end up listening to a few songs and never listening to others; singles are, especially in the iTunes age, created by the fans – so to make fans buy songs they don’t like is pretty selfish. And the “we make albums” line is shit – they act as if when people listen to their songs they listen to the entire album – as if their music is some kind of multi-act play.

  • garax

    It was a poorly written article, that is for sure. Having sat the other side of the table from some music business lawyers on one occasion the pure greed of the music industry is nothing I could ever doubt. The music industry eventually threw their lot in with iTunes to stop the rot and negate the risk of a whole generation never paying for any music. This article ridiculously chooses to forget how things were going prior to iTunes – all illegal downloads – and equally fails to point out the blindingly obvious – that as soon as the ACDC CD does come out it will be immediately ripped and made available for free online. Some artists may choose to pretend they make albums that consist of 10 equally excellent tracks – but we all know the truth – very few albums are really great – most are patchy – and a great number only have one or two good songs on – you want to sell a whole album on iTunes – then make one worth buying my friend.

  • TerryL

    They sell online – just not via iTunes. It is not the cheapest, installs malware and has DRM.

  • WillThorpe.net

    Doesn’t AC/DC know you can only allow full albums to be purchased on iTunes?

  • ellie

    i’m not a huge ACDC fan, but the band in question isn’t really the point. the fact is that we live in an impatient world where people don’t have the attention to sit and listen to a full album anymore.
    i can totally understand why a band would not want people to just buy the odd song. so much time and thought is put into the creation of an album. like a beautiful essay or film, it’s much more than the sum of its parts. think of albums like new boots and panties, quadrophenia and blood on the tracks – they are experiences in themselves.
    mr turnbull may be a very smart man, but he clearly does not understand or care for music.

    that said, i don’t see why they couldn’t have only allowed full albums to be purchased on itunes.

  • Jon Morrison

    Your writing is insufferable. AC/DC can do whatever it wants with their music. It’s theirs.

  • James Davis

    Well if I cant buy it on Itunes then I guess I’ll borrow it and add it to my Itunes, Way to go, ya could have made a few bucks by selling me the songs that I wanted. I thought Money Talked!

  • Evan Joseph Ringle

     Good for them. We need people to listen to the album. If I kept using iTunes, I would’ve never heard “Four Sticks” by Led Zeppelin, or “Know Your Rights” by the Clash.

  • Evan Joseph Ringle

    I think they just want you to listen to all of the songs.

  • Nick

    What a load of bollocks.  I love AC/DC but this is self indulgent bullshit…………….not very Rock’nRoll guys.  You’re as bad as the minipulating iTunes lot themselves who make it unbelievably difficult to manage your music.  Shame on you Angus!!

  • TJF

    They REALLY need to put their songs on Itunes.  There are a lot of us out here that would love to ‘pick and chose’ and not buy a whole album because THAT is the way it is done now!  They are missing out on a lot of new fans and not to mention a lot of money but refusing to do this.  Or perhaps they don’t understand the power of Itunes.  Too bad, I just discovered them through the movie ” School of Rock” and would love to buy  ” Long Way to the Top.”   They could introduce their music to a whole new generation.  Truly, they DO rock!

  • Mtguy1234

    If they really gave a crap about everyone listening to an entire album in order to maintain some sort of musical integrity, then why allow people to hear it on the radio, or why the calculations regarding making more money with a whole album in the first place?  This is about money and pretending otherwise is pretentious and insulting to listeners.  One might ask Angus if so much of their “new” music following a “Rock n’ Roll _________!” format is perhaps a reason people question whether it is worth buying a whole “album” considering they “don’t make singles.”

  • Adrienne Fisher

    I personally won’t by the album, where as I would buy two or three songs. I haven’t bought a whole CD in about 10 years. So there, they just lost money.

  • Adrienne Fisher

    good point.

  • Kacee Savage

    I’m not exactly a huge AC/DC fan, but i think its admirable that they don’t want their music on itunes (even though i want to download “shook me all night long” right this instant!) Angus obviously doesn’t care about money, so much as his work. He also see’s the way the world is turning nowadays. Like instead of us reading about this in a newspaper or magazine, were watching this guy type on a computer. It’s human nature to always keep progressing, but somethings need to stick around for awhile.

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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