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August 10, 2009


Def Leppard and iTunes

Def Leppard from back in the day

As anyone who grew up liking metal (or hard rock, or hair metal, or Top 40) probably knows, Def Leppard is one of the last remaining major iTunes holdouts. Sure, you can get their 2008 album, Songs From the Sparkle Lounge, on iTunes, but since there is probably zero chance that you looked up Def Leppard on iTunes to find that album, they may as well not be up there at all. Also, is that title a joke?

The band has licensed a few of their classic tracks to video games--you can download live versions of "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" through Guitar Hero III.

Today we heard that "Rock of Ages" is also going to appear in a new metal-themed video game Brütal Legend. This is the one with Jack Black as a roadie running around and fighting evil, with a soundtrack of over 100 metal songs from a vast array of sub-genres (including "hair, black, thrash, British, new wave, goth, industrial and death, just to name a few".) The game's creator, Tim Shafer, says that of all the songs they wanted, "Rock of Ages" was the single hardest one to get. Those guys sure are cautious.

"It came down to the wire," he said. "We were really close to not getting that one. We built an entire mission around that song. It's really appropriate because there's these guys mining through rocks. It was the perfect song to use, so we're really happy to get that in there."

AC/DC, The Beatles and Garth Brooks are also not on iTunes--and these are all bands with insane album sales and really dedicated fans. Maybe at one time, Def Leppard could claim the same kind of power over the music marketplace, but they seem to realize that their fans are probably only willing to forego downloads and buy physical CDs of their old stuff. Which is pretty easy to do--I got a used copy of Pyromania for like 7 bucks a few months ago, though sadly the band won't see a penny of it.

So maybe with the new video game, they were holding out for more money. Or maybe the band has realized that they can demand a lot higher royalties from sales of video games than they can from iTunes downloads, so they wait for those offers instead of settling for their 9 cents per download or whatever. The band has gone on record with their love of Apple, and singer Joe Elliott, guitarist Phil Collen, and new-guy guitarist Vivian Campbell all claim they love their iPods and are Mac guys. I bet they have no problem with iTunes, but their accountants do.

Here's the 80's-Arthurian "Rock of Ages" video.

categories: Business, Music
posted by amy at 2:27 PM | #

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the album Songs From the Sparkle Lounge is no longer on itunes =( Good thing i already bought it

Posted by: Josh at October 3, 2010 1:44 PM

Amy, Def Leppard WERE on the iTunes store awhile back (Pre-iTunes Plus to be exact) I've bought many of their albums like I said pre-iTunes Plus and the songs/albums are still in my iTunes lib as protected files. For some reason or another as this happens with iTunes a lot, all of their catalog got removed from the iTunes store with no explanation as to what had happened. Must be a legal issue due to the record labels, etc. Here's to the day when they return at last but all we can do now is hope I guess.

Posted by: Jim at November 13, 2010 12:05 PM

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