Headbangers’ Brawl 2/11: i-Hold Out

Posted by on February 11, 2011

Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’sBram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.

Our first reader submission for Headbangers’ Brawl come from Brian Kessler, who sent us an article about major artists explaining why they are still holding out from distributing music through iTunes. While artists like Tool and Black Sabbath are among these hold outs, this particular article from Perez Hilton (that’s right, this is the first and only time we will probably ever link to Perez Hilton) includes quotes from Kid Rock, Garth Brooks and Brian Johnson from AC/DC explaining why they disagree with iTunes set pricing. So with that in mind, Bram and Zach discuss whether they agree with these artists’ reasoning behind their “iTunes hold out.”

Zach: While I don’t blame them for necessarily holding out, I think using the “same price” argument is somewhat cheap (no pun intended). It’s not necessarily like prices for CDs in stores varied that much. Plus, iTunes has now varied their options from the standard 99 cents per song to the 69 cents to$1.29 range option for artists to choose. I do agree with Brooks and Johnson, though, that artists should have the option to have “album-only” downloads.

However, in a different view, if these holdouts prove anything, it’s that iTunes doesn’t necessarily have a monopoly on music any more. Kid Rock is currently one of the only “modern rock” musicians who is selling a consistent amount of records in this day in age, and AC/DC and Brooks do very well for themselves as well. It use to be that iTunes was put on a pedestal since they appeared to be the “king” digital music source. But these hold outs, as well as the decrease in musical sales, prove that artists don’t necessarily need iTunes to sell albums.

Bram: I think some of the artists that have concerns about iTunes the most do it for artistic reasons, not financial ones. Tool spend so much time on everything they do, that the only way they really intend for their albums to be listened to are as a whole. The sequence of an album is important to many artists, but anyone that’s seen any of their albums know that the artwork is almost as important.

Kid Rock certainly isn’t as much of a perfectionist as Tool is, but much like I’m sure AC/DC are, he’s a purist. These are artists who grew up in the age of albums. Remember waiting for an album to come out on a Tuesday, looking at the cover, reading the liner notes and lyrics? These artists do, and probably don’t feel that something they worked on as a work of art overall should be dissected into bite size pieces to be downloaded, listened to, and forgotten. Times are changing, but I can’t be mad at these artists for holding onto the feeling that made them want to be musicians in the first place.

Thanks Brain for your suggestion! Next week, we’ll try and discuss another reader submission. If you want to suggest a topic for Bram and Zach to discuss in Headbangers’ Brawl, email us your question/topics to tips [at] metalinsider.net with the header “Headbangers’ Brawl Suggestion.” Not only will your suggestion be featured in Headbangers’ Brawl, but you may get a cool prize as well.

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