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Music Media

Led Zeppelin Agrees To Digital Distribution 300

Posted by kdawson
from the stairway-to-profit dept.
cphilo points out a NYTimes article on Led Zeppelin's decision to sell its music online. The group is one of the last superstar acts to hold out against the digital tide. There was a months-long, trans-Atlantic bidding war for the rights to license the band's catalog. In the US, the only digital holdouts that outsell Led Zeppelin are the Beatles and Garth Brooks.
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Led Zeppelin Agrees To Digital Distribution

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  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:52PM (#20990317)
    Under the original terms of copyright in the USA, which I believe was 17 years + 17 more optional renewal if author was alive and wanted it, much of Led Zep's catalog would be in the public domain by now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)
      Under the original terms of copyright in the USA, which I believe was 17 years + 17 more optional renewal if author was alive and wanted it, much of Led Zep's catalog would be in the public domain by now.

      Well, when AllOfMp3.com was popular they were nearly free and that's why my wife has all their albums now.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:20PM (#20990547)

      Copyright in sound recordings expires either 50 years after the recording is made, if the recording is published during that period, 50 years from the publication or if during the initial 50 years the recording is played in public or communicated to the public, 50 years from said communication or playing to the public if the author of the broadcast is an EEA citizen. Otherwise duration under the laws of the country of which the author is a national applies, unless such a duration would be longer than offered in UK law, or be contrary to treaty obligations of the UK in force on 29 October 1993.
      from wikipedia [wikipedia.org] Led Zeppelin is still played regularly, so it's not becoming public domain anytime soon. I don't know why USA copyright laws are relevant(both led zeppelin and their record label are based in the UK), but they don't only last 17 years as you said, they last 70 years AFTER the artist's death.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Myopic (18616)
        Your comment is a non-sequitir. GP commented about original copyright terms; you replied about current copyright terms. Furthermore, whether or not Zep is 'still played regularly' has no bearing.

        GP's point is that Zep's music should be in the public domain by now, and he's absolutely correct. Stop saying copyrighted MUSIC and start saying copyrighted CULTURE. In this case it's an apt rephrasing: Zep is (IMHO) history's greatest rock and roll band (Beatles were a pop band, so they don't count). Keeping rock
    • The boys would need to have written new hits and not glided along on a fluke
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "The boys would need to have written new hits and not glided along on a fluke"

        Perhaps if current bands had the musicianship, stage presence and overall talent that Zeppelin had, we'd not be so concerned what such an old band was doing these days....

        Why has there not been a valid 'superband' rock band of the likes of Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who (to name a few) to have taken their place LONG ago?

        I think the record industry killed it to a large extent, but, there's got to be something else....just not su

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Peaker (72084)
      14+14, I think.
    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday October 15, 2007 @10:41PM (#20991075)
      The Copyright Act of 1976 [wikipedia.org] extended the duration of all copyrights in force as of 1976 to the life of the original author plus fifty (50) years and the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org] (aka The Mickey Mouse Protection Act) extended that term by an additional twenty (20) years. If the surviving members of the band continue to enjoy an average wealthy first world life expectency then the Led Zeppelin catalog should begin entering the public domain some time around the year 2093, by which time it is very likely that none of us will be around to enjoy them in that capacity (unless you buy into the whole singularity nonsense).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by darthflo (1095225)
        I AM the singularity. I also am filling the interwebs with Led Zepplin directly from another dimension (or so they say).
    • by Almahtar (991773)
      Isn't it 17 years + 17 optional if the copyright holder is alive and wants it, not the author?
  • FINALLY!
  • In the US, the only digital holdouts that outsell Led Zeppelin are the Beatles and Garth Brooks.

    What, you mean Ill Mitch [youtube.com] doesn't rank?
  • AC/DC (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hao Wu (652581) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:55PM (#20990359) Homepage
    No AC/DC on iTunes, last time I checked.

    (I check several times each day.)

  • by ubernostrum (219442) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:55PM (#20990361) Homepage

    IIRC when he went into retirement he inked a deal which granted exclusive distribution rights, going forward, to Wal-Mart; unless they get into downloadable music in a big way, or can grant digital rights to a big online player like Amazon or Apple, that may come back to bite him pretty hard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Um, Walmart.com does have an online music store. And, IIRC, [walmart.com]they recently announced they are offering DRM-free music [officialares.com], as well.
      • Yes, but that's why I said "unless they go online in a big way". They're still a pretty small fish in the online music business.

    • by StikyPad (445176)
      It's sort of ridiculous that a successful musician would be retired before the age of 40. I can understand athletes retiring because their bodies can't keep up (though many go on to other careers), and one-hit-wonders moving on, but why would a popular musician retire at all, let alone at such a young age. Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Carlos Santana, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams Jr. and Sr. -- all of these people are either still going, or played till the end. I don't even care for his
      • by StikyPad (445176) on Monday October 15, 2007 @10:00PM (#20990807) Homepage
        LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! PLEASE.

        (Hey, somebody was gonna say it.. might as well be me.)
      • I don't know whether it's true or not that this was the reason, but publicly he stated it was because he wanted to spend time with his kids while they grew up instead of constantly being on the road/in the studio. And it's not like he was hurting for money at that point...

      • It's an open question whether he would have done as well. As I understand it, a lot of long-running bands gradually fade away in sales and popularity. The band that might have filled stadiums in the 70's might still be together, but playing at county fairs today if they thought it was still worthwhile to do so.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lpcustom (579886)
        Retirement for me will come if I ever make enough money to sustain me for the rest of my life. Garth Brooks had more than enough. Why shouldn't he retire? What I don't get is people like Bill Gates or any other businessman who is rich enough that his great great great great grandchildren won't have to work and they still get up every day and go to work. It's not that I'm lazy and they are workaholics. I work to make money. There are many many other things I'd rather do with my life. As far as being a musici
      • by rtb61 (674572)
        The difference is that between a performance artist, a mass marketing persona/band, that creates an illusory image, while the reality is nothing but ego and greed ie. drunken drugged up minstrels. The others represent musicians and creative people who really do love their work, people who live to share their musical expression of life.

        What is funny is the course those that held out the longest to maximise profits, where also those that created and lived by the illusion of being rebels, of being against th

    • Garth Brooks has had a deal since 2005 with Wal-Mart (details are here [planetgarth.com]). However, I just searched Wal-Mart's music downloads and don't see Garth Brooks downloads listed; there are links though. From the results of the search, it seems that the deal was for CDs. When browsing through a Wal-Mart music section, the prices for Brooks' releases are lower than everyone else's (bargain bin excluded). That's amazing.
  • The real news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:56PM (#20990367) Homepage Journal
    ...is that Garth Brooks outsells Led Zeppelin?!? Who knew?
    • by johkir (716957)
      That didn't sound right to me. And although I don't have access to the full Billboard charts [billboard.com], who I guess would have all that data, the next best would be wikipedia [wikipedia.org], which shows Garth selling more then 100 million, but behind Led Zeppelin, selling more the 250 million.
      • Re:The real news... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by maeka (518272) on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:28PM (#20990607) Journal

        That didn't sound right to me. And although I don't have access to the full Billboard charts, who I guess would have all that data, the next best would be wikipedia, which shows Garth selling more then 100 million, but behind Led Zeppelin, selling more the 250 million.

        Led Zeppelin has had many more years to sell so many more than Garth Brooks, the interesting numbers would be current sales, not lifetime.
    • by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Monday October 15, 2007 @10:32PM (#20991015)
      Country music today is basically what rock 'n' roll was in the 70s (more true of the Eagles, CCR or Tom Petty than Zep, but I digress). So it wouldn't surprise me if similar music has similar fan-bases.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by KlomDark (6370)
        Don't forget Garth Brooks' rock album: Garth Brooks In The Life of Chris Gaines [about.com]. I dunno how well it sold, but he did do a rock album.

        The picture on the cover is pretty surprising - You end up saying "THAT'S Garth Brooks??" WTF?

        I'm a metalhead, but I do have to say I liked "Thunder Rolls", that was really a good song.
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:58PM (#20990377) Homepage Journal
    The true Led Zap fans rip their vinyls to Mp3 :)
  • Having grown up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:08PM (#20990461) Homepage Journal

    listening to Led Zeppelin, I can say they are easily one of the best rock bands of all time. Unlike a lot of recent 'talent' which seems to be concerned only with imitating others, Led Zeppelin pioneered rock and roll and actually brought creativity back to a genre which many had dismissed simply as hippie music.

    Good to see their catalog online; however, a few years ago I had a rather revealing experience after buying one of their earlier works on CD: I could definitely notice the limitations of the analog equipment used for recording. I hope that the tracks offered online are of better quality, or it will be a little bit of a disappointment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tyler Eaves (344284)
      I think it has more to do with the state of Led Zeppelin on CD. The currently released CDs are a circa 1992 masters. Hardly the peak of sonic fidelity, although the situation isn't nearly as dire, as, for instance the Beatles.
      • by AuMatar (183847)
        Most people don't give a shit. Notice how popular mp3s are despite the "quality difference". Most people don't even know there is one, and can barely tell its there when someone points it out. People were and are quite happy with low bitrate encodings. The fact that they're old masters don't matter a bit.
    • "hippie music" (Score:3, Insightful)

      by unity100 (970058)
      whats wrong with hippie music, pal ?
    • by aztektum (170569)
      How did they pioneer rock and roll when other rock acts, particularly the Beatles, predate their existence by almost 10 years? Maybe the pioneers of "art rock" or a sub genre

      Anyway, personally I recognize Zep for the contribution to music as a whole, but find most of their stuff to be over done. I guess that's why I'm a big punk fan though.
      • The Beatles were certainly original, and creative, but they were more of a pop-music kind of band. Led Zeppelin explored a lot of different styles, and did all of them well.

        But just a few examples:

        • The guitar solos on Led Zeppelin, particularly Good Times Bad Times and Communication Breakdown. No one but Jimmy Page was playing guitar like that in 1969.
        • The Angels of Everlorn?! And this from a rock band - only Zeppelin could have pulled this off and not come across as cheesy. Granted, everyone loves
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by conteXXt (249905)

      "pioneered rock and roll and actually brought creativity back to a genre which many had dismissed simply as hippie music"

      Creativity? How creative is it to BLATENTLY rip off blues musicians from 20,30,40 years before they were BORN?

      If sampling were available in Led Zeps time, I don't think they would have even bothered "trying" to disguise the theft.

      Methinks you were looking for a different word. Plagiarism comes to mind.

      No credits (initially) to the songwriters they stole from?

      World's biggest cover band.
      • by gooman (709147) on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:51PM (#20990765) Journal
        Time Travel.
        That's how you rip-off a Blues musician 20, 30 even 40 years before they are born.

      • That may be an accurate description of how Led Zeppelin got their start, but how can you deny the creativity and craftsmanship behind songs like "Kashmir" and "All of My Love" and "The Ocean" and "The Rain Song"? And you must admit that the opening bars of "Good Times, Bad Times" represent one of the best -- if not THE best -- debut tracks on a debut album ever recorded.
        • by conteXXt (249905)
          If I didn't give ANY credit to their later (and possibly, actually "original") work, I am sorry and apologize.

          I just have issues with people that steal good music from poor (usually almost dead) people to make profit.

          That should anger WAY more people than it does, yet Elvis, The Beatles, and the most blatant and easily provable, Led Zeppelin, all got away with it (and paid peanuts when caught)

          And people wonder why "real" music isn't written anymore.

           
      • You're full of shit first because you claim that using the blues as source material for new music is somehow 'ripping someone off'. Shows you just have an axe to grind. Are you going to say the same thing about the Stones? How about Clapton/Cream/musical chairs band? How about Elvis? How about every blues-playing 60's band? They were 'ripping off' old artists in the same way, if that's what you're going to term it. But by your standards people should stop playing blues because there's nothing that's
        • by conteXXt (249905)
          I'll ignore the emotion in your subject and ask a simple question:

          Is copying a style the same as covering without credit?

          What Led zep did Early on was the latter (documented)

          ALL rock and roll (heck all music) is copying a style and adding artistic flair to define one's own "sound"

          P.S.

          "You're full of shit first because you claim that using the blues as source material for new music is somehow 'ripping someone off'"

          I said nothing of the sort. I said Led Zep STOLE music, didn't credit the artists they stole
      • by manly_15 (447559)

        If sampling were available in Led Zeps time, I don't think they would have even bothered "trying" to disguise the theft. Methinks you were looking for a different word. Plagiarism comes to mind.

        I think this is one of the problems with how people currently view music as something which can be "owned" in perpetuity.

        The blues and jazz movement of the 1900's directly influenced most of our popular music today. And blues and jazz were influenced by the music before it. Hell, I've even heard Bach called "the

      • World's biggest cover band.

        Sorry, this one makes my sick and is EXACTLY why I hate the music industry.

        Not just the biggest, but the greatest cover band.

        Ain't NOTHING wrong with plagiarism. Putting your own spin on something can make all the difference. It's only the same bullshit MAFIAA inspired "cultural ownership" mentality that claims otherwise. Led Zep may have been a cover band, but they were a damn fine cover band - they performed with a unique style and were smart enough to steal from the best. The end result - great music - is all that should matter.

      • Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have consistently said who their influences have been. Robert Johnson, BB King, Muddy Waters, Elmore James etc etc. They have even credited Middle Eastern and North African influences with their music and created music with them. So far from you saying they have credited no one, they have done more to credit artists that have influenced them than other artists.

        So before lambasting musicians that have contributed so much to world music, not just rock music, perhaps you should read
      • In LZ's defense, they did put their own spin on a lot of tracks; which was the tradition in blues anyway. Compare LZ's Travelin' Riverside Blues to the Willie Dixon cut; they hardly sound the same. You'd be amazed at how many "classic" blues tracks are nothing but another song with different lyrics, including at least one cut by Robert Johnson.
    • by bogjobber (880402)
      Sweet zombie Jesus, I hope you're being sarcastic. If not your ignorance regarding rock music is staggering. Although I agree to the extent of their awesomeness, to claim Led Zeppelin isn't derivative is absolutely ludicrous. In fact, they have been taken to court at least once and criticized many more times for outright plagiarism. Some of their most famous songs are directly credited to other artists (Dazed and Confused, Lemon Song, Moby Dick, Gallows Pole, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, When the Levee Bre
      • You know, the interesting thing about satire and parody is that they often employ blatant copying, with a twist, for the sake of humor.

        The interesting thing about Led Zeppelin is that they employed blatant copying, with a twist, to add a depth and a character to works that many had regarded as long since dead.

        But, they weren't only about copying other artists. They were fairly creative in their own right, and added more to music as a whole than they took away from it.

    • Re:Having grown up (Score:5, Interesting)

      by J_Omega (709711) on Monday October 15, 2007 @10:37PM (#20991043)
      This begs the question: Did you get a "remastered" CD?

      The re-releases do sound better - more clean, etc. Jimmy Page is an obsessive sound engineer.

      But... perhaps you did. That's probably as good as they're ever going to sound.
      Online stuff sound better? Ha? It'll be MP3s - low bitrates with bad artifacts and all.
      The best you could hope for is to buy FLAC (or other lossless formats) that'd be CD quality.

      It's all a part of the era they were recorded in. Heck, I love Zepp as well, but what can you do?
      I love old jazz (Charlie Parker, etc.) that was recorded in mono. Even the "best" copies sound like something you could have recorded on Fischer-Price kids stuff nowadays. Just deal with the quality, enjoy the music.
  • ringtones?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russellh (547685) on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:08PM (#20990463) Homepage
    Ok, from tfa:

    Under a series of new agreements expected to be announced today, the band will make its songs available first as ringtones and similar mobile features starting this week in an exclusive deal with Verizon Wireless.
    WTF? This to me says one of two things: either they don't care about the artistic integrity of their music at all, or they don't understand or don't have any respect for digital distribution, digital music players. I'm going with the former, as the latter has big $$$ attached now, apparently. mp3 players already devalue music generally, but nothing kills integrity like ringtones. Especially stairway to heaven ringtones. OMFG. kill me now.
    • by Kesch (943326)
      On the upside. Maybe we'll see some Zeppelin in Guitar Hero/Rock Band.
    • by HanzoSpam (713251)
      WTF? This to me says one of two things: either they don't care about the artistic integrity of their music at all, or they don't understand or don't have any respect for digital distribution, digital music players. I'm going with the former, as the latter has big $$$ attached now, apparently.

      So, WTF is wrong with giving people what they want, in the format they want it, at a price they're willing to pay? That a few pretentious clowns lose their status as arbiters of "art"? And what makes them authorities?
      • And what makes them authorities?

        They have more money than we do. That's pretty much about it, I'd say.
      • by russellh (547685)

        So, WTF is wrong with giving people what they want, in the format they want it, at a price they're willing to pay? That a few pretentious clowns lose their status as arbiters of "art"? And what makes them authorities?
        a classic rock act enters the digital age by selling ringtones? Whatever it is they're selling, it's not music. - it's more like nostalgia. Nothing is wrong with that, except that they're no longer artists.
    • I've never really understood this need to take a tiny clip of a track and use it as a "ring" tone. I've always figured it to be a novelty at best. There is an element of personalization, but I question that because they end up sounding very bad through a ringer.
  • CDs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Winckle (870180) <mark@NosPaM.winckle.co.uk> on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:15PM (#20990515) Homepage
    Don't CDs store data digitally?

    Also why do marketeers always cal them "digital downloads", when can I get them on analogue downloads? :-)
    • by zerojoker (812874)
      > when can I get them on analogue downloads?

      They already are available. You could always _listen_ to the music :-)
    • by Anthony (4077) *
      Hey. I used to do analog downloads from AM radio to my trusty cassette. Lots of "backup tapes" of Yes, David Bowie, Led Zep, Bob Marley from the Album show in the 70s. No idea where those tapes are, all been binned I suspect. Quality, who needs quality when you know no other sound. This new-fangled stereo radio is a revelation though.
    • >>when can I get them on analogue downloads? :-)

      The analog downloads can be sourced via Sneaker-net from your local record store. :)
  • by ross.w (87751) <{rwonderley} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:23PM (#20990565) Journal
    if the stores are all closed, with a click she can get what she came for.

    Amazon patents notwithstanding
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    • by goombah99 (560566)
      if the stores are all closed, with a click she can get what she came for.
      ooh, ooh she's buying a ringtone from Verizon

      Amazon patents notwithstanding

      There's a Lock on the browser, but she wants to be secure.
      Cause you know sometimes sites can be phishing

      Amazon patents notwithstanding
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Monday October 15, 2007 @09:30PM (#20990643) Journal

    The group is one of the last superstar acts to hold out against the digital tide.
    They've been dazed and confused them for so long it' not true.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday October 15, 2007 @10:07PM (#20990849)
    I was annoyed that Led Zeppelin wasn't on iTunes a while back, but it did lead me to the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Led Zeppelin cover album. Highly recommended (and they did a Pink Floyd cover album, too).

  • Just got the torrent a month back, every album ripped pristinely. Damn good thing, too, seeing as my records and audio cassettes are all futzy and not a good source for ripping at this point. Oh, but did they mean "legal" digital distribution? Piss on it, I've still not forgiven Jimmy Page for doing a video with Puff Daddy.
  • I may get flamed for this, but I think one major reason why Led Zeppelin were a major holdout against legal downloads was the fact the former band members feared most of the downloads will be the song "Stairway to Heaven," causing people to ignore the numerous other music the group wrote. Besides, sales of the group's music was still quite profitable in album form for the surviving band members, so there was no real incentive for legal digital downloads until the recent announcement.
    • by sqrt(2) (786011)
      Stairway has got to be one of my least favorite Led Zep songs. I'd go so far as to say that I hate it (although not with quite as much hate as I reserve for Freebird). I'll never understand why people seem to like it so much and consider it to be the song by Led Zeppelin, especially when there's so many better songs by that group. No Quarter is my favorite, and actually I think the cover by Tool is better than the original. If I was paying to download Led Zeppelin I would skip Stairway to Heaven. I download
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by agrippa_cash (590103)
        A couple years back, Plant pledged to some Seattle(?) public radio station after they cited as a positive fact the that they'd never play Stairway on public radio. Clearly, he isn't a huge fan of the song either. The main reasons Led Zeppelin didn't release their songs as singles during the 70's were 1) Jimmy Page was a tightwad and wanted everyone to buy the whole album and 2) LZ wanted people to listen to the whole album, not just a song by itself. It will be interesting to see if the songs are availab
  • Remastered I hope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by networkzombie (921324)
    Wouldn't that be nice? The Black Sabbath 1996 Castle Remastered releases were amazing compared to the original releases. I hope Led Zeppelin does the same. We could finally hear what they are saying before the songs (not even yet?). If iTunes had their say I'm sure the quality would be reduced. Would Verizon be able to get reels or would they use CDex like everybody else? So... I guess I already have all the digital Zepp?
  • Saturated with MP3 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by westyvw (653833) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:02AM (#20991543)
    Seriously, who doesnt have all the Zep songs in MP3 by this point already if they like them? I dont get this concept of downloading bands that have been purchased over and over and over again in the past. If I didnt have the MP3's I could get them in short order from rip of my cd, or a library, or have em dropped off on my server by a friend, or turn on any classic radio station for more then 20 minutes.

    I was a big fan, I even have hours of boots, back when that was interesting, and I still like them, but think about it, even 20 years ago (1987) you didnt have to buy an album or cassette because someones big brother or friend would give you one. They were very common during the transition to cd. And about 8 years after that I think you could pick up a cd in the $2 used bin.

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