Return Of The Album? Pink Floyd Wins Online Bundling Right


The album’s not dead yet – well, not in Pink Floyd’s case at least. A judge has ruled in favour of the prog rock band, which went to the UK High Court for the right to have its material sold online only the form of albums, not individual singles, which have became the dominant form of digital download.

Pink Floyd’s contract with EMI – which was signed 11 years ago ago, before the online music boom – says its albums must only be sold as a whole and in a set order. EMI argued this applied only to “physical product”, but, according to Justice Andrew Morrit’s ruling, via Bloomberg: “There is nothing in the terms


Paul Di Meglio

The problem is that it’s really hard for artists to create anything other than formulaic fluff with 3-5 minute tracks. Those who chose to consume music in this manner tend to not really be interested in the full potential of music as a viable art form. They want a quick fix of familiar sound to influence their mood. Today’s ‘single’ minded music listener uses these 99 cent downloads like drug addicts use shots in the arm.

Even if the album isn’t held together by a ‘concept’, giving yourself up to an artist for 40-50 minutes at a time can create as much entertainment value (in terms of emotional and psychological stimulation) as a film or dramatic television show can provide. Bands like Pink Floyd create albums that have all the dramatic highs and lows that you experience when watching a movie, you just have to use your imagination to create the visuals. You simply can not do this in the course of 5 minutes. Making a playlist on your own doesn’t count because you are not allowing each artist a chance to take you on a journey.

So while the world seems to be listening to music less and less seriously, real artists will follow Pink Floyd’s lead and create extended-listening albums meant to be consumed as a whole and not to be chopped up into individual heroin hits that iTunes and the like provide. This model works surprisingly well in the digital age and is even being practiced by some young and innovative artists who’s popularity has largely been created thanks to the internet. See Porcupine Tree for the best example of this.

I’m sure Pink Floyd is fighting this for the right artistic reasons and I wish them the best of luck in keeping their works of musical art together and whole. Listening to a popular ‘single’ like Another Brick in the Wall part 2 on its own reduces it from a poignant tale of a protagonist’s trouble history in school to an annoying diversion with a meaningless children’s choir and disco beat. You need the rest of The Wall to understand how that song fits in with a larger and much more powerful story.


Isn’t this much more about upholding a contract that was written in a pre-digital age than a new approach to online music? Isn’t the judgement merely about the fact that a ‘record’ is a collection of songs rather than a vinyl thing.

Storm in teacup stuff. Most artists don’t have the clause. Those that do may choose not to enforce it, all this means is that they can if they want.

Shane Breen

Why fight it. Put out a album, put out vinyl people will buy them. Get more creative with the product. Singles are not going anywhere. Adapt!!!

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