These Super Popular Bands Were the Last to Join Streaming Services
The Beatles weren't the only holdouts to join the streaming revolution.
Thanks to music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora, we have unlimited access to songs from all of our favorite artists for one measly fee. But not every band was quick to join the streaming revolution. In fact, many have actively worked to keep their music off of streaming services over the years—some because of money, some because of pride, and some simply because, like Taylor Swift, they hate Spotify. The good news? As time has passed, these popular groups have given up their fights one by one. From The Beatles to AC/DC, here are the super popular bands who were the last to make their music available on streaming services.
Despite being arguably the biggest band the world has ever seen, The Beatles kept their discography off of streaming sites for quite some time. Why? Well, as Mark Mulligan, managing director of media research firm Midia, explained to BBC News, "their publishers didn't want to do anything to damage potential sales of reissues and retrospectives."
In 2015, though, the world got an early Christmas present from the Fab Four. On December 24th of that year, The Beatles' catalog was released on nine streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and Tidal.
In the not-so-distant past, Pink Floyd was very vocal about their disdain for streaming services, even going so far as to say that Pandora was "tricking artists" in an open letter to the streaming service. Eventually, though, the popular rock group signed a deal with Spotify in 2013 that would allow their catalog to be released on one condition: their song "Wish You Were Here" had to first reach one million streams. Fans quickly rose to the challenge, and Pink Floyd's entire discography was made available to stream in June of the same year.
Since making their music available online, the band has seriously changed its tune about streaming platforms. "Spotify for us was a success," drummer Nick Mason said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2013. "A lot of people have been streaming our music, and importantly also a lot of people who weren't familiar with our music."
Though rock group AC/DC has been around for decades, their discography wasn't made available on streaming services until the summer of 2015. So why were they reluctant to go digital? Guitarist Angus Young explained in 2011 that AC/DC was an "album-based" band and that their albums were meant to be heard in their entirety—not with various tracks streamed digitally here and there.
Led Zeppelin was hesitant to add their legendary work t0 streaming services, too—but in 2013, their management reached an exclusive deal with Spotify and the band's entire discography was added to the platform. For two years, that was the only streaming site you could find Led Zeppelin on. But when that exclusive deal ended in 2015, their catalog was added to other streaming services as well.
In 2018, a fan site reported that the band might be working on their own streaming service called The Led Zeppelin Experience—but nothing is official as of yet.
The guys of Def Leppard were also opponents of streaming their music for a long time because, their label, Universal, reportedly refused to let them profit off of the royalties. "We're just not prepared to give them money for old rope when they give us nothing in return," frontman Joe Elliot told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012.
But when the company eventually saw a shift in leadership, Def Leppard saw an opportunity—and in 2018, they made a deal and released their catalog to the digital masses. "We needed the right deal for the band," Elliot told Rolling Stone in 2018. "We weren't going to be victims of the industry … We came to the conclusion that [streaming was] not going to do us any harm, but the deal had to be right."
Radiohead has had a rocky relationship with Spotify over the years. In 2013, the band pulled their music from the streaming service, with lead singer Thom Yorke describing the platform as "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse." Though Yorke still certainly isn't a fan of the platform—rather recently, he publicly criticized it via Twitter—the band ultimately decided to put the last of their catalog back on Spotify in 2017.
The Black Keys
The Black Keys have publicly criticized streaming services in the past, even going so far as to call artists who affiliate with them "sell outs." And yet, it was announced in 2016 that the band's music would be made available on Spotify, albeit reluctantly.
"After five years of struggling with this we agreed to put the keys songs on Spotify. I'd rather people hear our music than not," drummer Patrick Carney tweeted. He did mention his apprehension, however, by following up with this tweet: "No advance or money was exchanged. I'm still an advocate for artists to be paid fairly. I'm still apprehensive."
When Coldplay released their album Mylo Xyloto in 2011, they withheld it from popular streaming services for a period of time. The band used this same strategy in 2014 and 2015, when they refused to immediately release Ghost Stories and A Head Full of Dreams respectively on Spotify.
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Coldplay manager David Holmes admitted that these delayed releases were a ploy to get people to buy the albums rather than stream them. "Spotify competes with download stores," he said at the time of Mylo Xyloto's release. "I am very concerned."
Tool was one of the last major bands to hold off on making their music available to stream. In fact, it wasn't until the summer of 2019, just before the release of their fifth album, that the rock group finally put their music on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, announcing the news both via Twitter and on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast. Fans might've thought this day would never come, but currently, all of the band's albums are available on all major streaming sites. And for more on the biggest names in music, check out the 22 Biggest Grammy Shockers of All Time.
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