First it was the Beatles. Then, Prince followed suit to the surprise of many. Now, it seems, AC/DC has also seen the light – or, perhaps, just the glow of potential new profits – and dropped its long-standing opposition to Apple’s iTunes, announcing that its back catalog will be added to the digital music service alongside a new live album.
According to a statement released by the band today, the band’s entire back catalog will be made available to fans via Apple’s digital music service in a variety of options. In addition to the traditional “Buy songs individually or buy the entire album” format, the catalogs will also be available in a couple of different multi-album packages: All 16 studio albums, from 1975’s High Voltage to 2008’s Black Ice, will be available as one collection, with another collection bringing together everything the band has released, including live albums and tracks from previous box set releases.
The announcement doesn’t offer any explanation for the band’s seeming change of heart regarding the Apple platform; in the past, the band has seemingly remained very fiercely against the idea of sharing its songs via iTunes, and digital distribution in general. The band’s last album release, Black Ice, was a WalMart-exclusive release in large part, the band’s Angus Young said at the time, because he considered that option “the best alternative to iTunes.” As recently as last year, Young was still apparently vehement in his distrust for the idea of buying music online, in large part because of the option it gave listeners to take songs out of their originally-intended context within an album. He told Sky News “I know the Beatles have changed [their minds] but we’re going to carry on like that. For us, it’s the best way” talking about the traditional album format. He continued, “We are a band who started off with albums and that’s how we’ve always been. We always were a band that, if you heard something on the radio, well, that’s only three minutes. Usually the best tracks were on the album.”
As the Guardian notes, such album-centric rhetoric is entirely absent from the official release announcing the iTunes catalog addition, replaced by commentary about the remastering of each album so that “the music is delivered to listeners with increased audio fidelity” that just so happens to “more closely [replicate] what the artists, recording engineers and producers intended.” Perhaps I’m missing out on some grand shift in what AC/DC stands for these days, but since when was the intentions of the recording engineers and audio fidelity more important to an AC/DC record than… well, how hard it rocked, for want of a better way to put it? Clearly, this announcement is the band selling out in more ways than one.