Preserving Artistic Integrity

It appears that the band Metallica will finally sell its songs on iTunes. While I don’t find Metallica on iTunes that big of a deal, I was rather intrigued by the reasons that other bands are refusing to let their songs be downloaded individually. The band Radiohead, for example, refuses to sell their songs individually based on artistic principle. Essentially, the band believes that an album is a holistic work of art and that downloading songs apart from the rest of the album is doing the band a disservice. Hmmm.

Now I know some “musicians” that release single after single music-wise. The musicians are after a quick penny. I mean, how many people are actually going to be listening to Nelly in twenty years? Then there are the musicians that actually try to create an experience with their work. One of my friends came up with a good analogy for these types of musicians. The analogy is that of artwork. A painter could create a series of paintings that go together, but the paintings could standalone if needed. Same goes for the short-story novelists who craft a bunch of short stories together that are actually part of a larger series.

My question is, why are some of these musicians holding out? I think that if someone wants to experience the “artistic” experience, then that someone will purchase the entire album. The rest of us just want the song.

1 thought on “Preserving Artistic Integrity”

  1. I could go either way. Artists are allowed to distribute their media as they see fit. So, if they don't want to use iTunes, they don't have to. Of course, they are probably missing out on some decent revenue.

    On the flip side, as a listener of music, sometimes I might only want a hit single from a singer's album (mostly in the dance/techno genre for me). So, in that case, I would avoid buying the full album and would like to buy the individual song.

    Slashdot ( has a pretty lively discussion on this same topic.


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