In 1999 when Pink Floyd signed to EMI, music distribution was a different beast. It was a much simpler time where the album ruled, CDs were the medium of choice, and Shawn Fanning was still in his dorm room. So when Pink Floyd and EMI joined forces, at a time when music downloading wasn’t even an option, the label could not have foreseen the legal suit that would follow… a suit that a High Court judge ruled on yesterday. Point: Pink Floyd.
The band contested that EMI did not have their permission to sell their songs individually. The foundation of their argument taken straight from their contract states “there are no rights to sell any or all of the records as single records other than with [Pink Floyd’s] permission.” EMI QC Elizabeth Jones responded by saying that the word “record” should only apply to the physical album and that digital sales are excluded from this deal.
Yesterday the judge ruled in favor of Pink Floyd, awarding them £40,000 ($60,000) in costs and barring EMI from selling their music online.
This was not just a legal victory for the band, but a moral one too. Pink Floyd crafted each of their albums into individual experiences, and that has always been the way their music is meant to be heard. Classic Rock stations will try to simplify the trip by playing the same songs over and over again, but all that does is dilute their body of work. If radio stations only played “Wish You Were Here” (which they practically do) or if people only bought the one song on iTunes (which they practically do) then we might as well call them a one hit wonder. Artistic vision is not something the labels should meddle with. In an ideal world the artists should retain complete control. It’s in their title. The listener should realize that too. No matter how good your Pink Floyd mixtape is, it will never fit a laser light show as well as Dark Side Of The Moon.
Albums are meant to be heard in full, and now thanks to Pink Floyd’s conquest they will get their wish. The band will join other artists like AC/DC, Garth Brooks, and The Beatles who are keeping it real, though It may only be a matter of time before The Beatles succumb to peer pressure.