AC/DC Shuns Online Downloading (At a Cost)

Sky News recently posted an article explaining AC/DC’s firm stance on online downloading and how the legendary rock group would never allow their songs to be available for download.

Says guitarist Angus Young:

"I know the Beatles have changed but we’re going to carry on like that... For us it’s the best way. 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 (by AC/DC) on the radio, well, that’s only three minutes. Usually the best tracks were on the albums."

It’s interesting to note that AC/DC’s stance on making music available for download is based on the idea that they want their listeners to hear the album all the way through from beginning to end. While this makes perfect sense if you’re listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, a concept album, or any progressive rock band, AC/DC’s music strikes me more as the short rock single that makes for a perfect radio spot.

Either this hard-line position on legal online downloading signifies a severe lack of economic judgment and willful ignorance to the way the music world currently operates or it represents a principle that the band wants to keep at any cost. Prince claimed that “the Internet’s completely over” in what appeared to be a streak of sheer stupidity. AC/DC, on the other hand, might be less afraid of technology and are just purists when it comes to the consumption of their music. Obviously they know that many people will just download their music illegal anyway, but they prefer to remain steadfast nonetheless out of respect for themselves and the music they created.

On the other hand, I think an artist should pick their battles and this doesn’t seem like a battle that needs to be fought. People who buy AC/DC albums the conventional way, in a store or online and in CD form, will often listen to the music on a track-by-track basis with no adherence to song order or album flow. For something as commonplace as an iTunes store or other online download location, AC/DC could be raking in a lot more money while providing their fans and would-be fans a convenient way to consume their music without resorting to illegal measures. At the very least, that appears to be the courteous thing to do in the current music industry climate and in a time where everyone carries around their iPod or smartphone to download and listen to music.


2 responses
Alas, I think this post kind of proves Angus' (and the band's) point. They aren't a singles band. Never have been. They are a live band and they capture that on every album. Have you ever listened to an entire AC/DC album? End to end? Besides, they never conformed to the fashion of the day, be it, music, image, or how their music is supposed to be consumed. And raking in more money? I don't think they are in need of padding their nest egg. Would be fans? No dramas. They lay it down and the fans find them.
Thanks for the comment Daniel. You're right that they don't know need more money to pad the nest egg, so taking this approach is viable. I have listened to AC/DC end to end but I really think many of their tracks are standalone -- why deprive a would-be fan who wants to buy one song before committing to an album? Looks like things have changed in the last two years I wrote this post. Seems like you can buy a single song from AC/DC on iTunes.