At one time, if you’d dominated the Billboard charts in the 1970s and lost at least one member of the band to an excessive life style, it was the fashionable thing to not find your work gathered in the iTunes Store. And for a variety of reasons. You were too big to be digitized and downloaded. Your work must not suffer the loss of quality that comes with audio compression. You objected to your masterwork being sold off piecemeal by track. Or, more often than not, you felt your music was worth more than Apple’s standard license fee.
Some of the artists who took this line included such greats as The Beatles (individually and as a group), The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and (after an early stint on the store) Frank Zappa. Each and every one can now be found on the iTunes Store. Yet the iTunes catalog is hardly complete. A few artists continue to hold out and the catalogs of some artists who are on the Store remain incomplete. Who and what’s missing?
AC/DC For many, the Beatles finally coming to iTunes sealed the deal—the iTunes Store was The Place to find all the digital music you desired. “Not so,” said others. “For iTunes to truly rock, it must have AC/DC!” And it still doesn’t.
As with Metallica before it, AC/DC believes that its music should be listened to in album-form rather than as single tracks. Metallica eventually gave in. AC/DC has not.
Garth Brooks The best-selling 1990s country star who made it so fashionable to jam your thumbs in your pants feels much the same way about iTunes as does AC/DC. He believes his catalog must be sold in Album-Only form. Apple, apparently, disagrees.
Kid Rock “I kid you not,” Rock, might say, “If you want to download my stuff you’re going to have to go to Amazon MP3, which has agreed to sell it only by the album.”
Tool Grammy-award winning metal alternative band Tool is yet another group that doesn’t wish to have its music splintered into pieces. While you can purchase the band’s CDs just about anywhere you like, digital downloads aren’t available from any site.
King Crimson One of the seminal progressive rock bands from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, King Crimson isn’t terribly progressive when it comes to digital downloads. Robert Fripp, Crimson’s founder and constant leader, continues to work on the band’s catalog—remixing the work as well as offering it on DVD in 5.1 surround sound and selling it and his solo work from his website. Fripp doesn’t seem interested in compressed stereo versions of his work.
Def Leppard Rock band Def Leppard isn’t entirely absent from the iTunes Store, but fans will find very little to love. Currently the band’s Mirror Ball – Live & More is available in regular and iTunes deluxe versions, but that’s as far as the catalog goes.
A sea of holes
Although the vast majority of music artists can be found on iTunes, not so their complete catalogs. Barring those albums that have simply gone out of print, many albums are missing because they never made the digital-delivery cut. They’re available on CD but not in downloadable form. For example, Captain Beefheart’s unlistenable-to-many Trout Mask Replica can’t be found. If you were hoping to find Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac recordings, sorry, the Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham AM radio iteration is well represented but not the earlier works. If you’re a fan of pub-rocker-turned-crooner Nick Lowe, you’ll find that his Cowboy Outfit efforts from the 1980s are unavailable for download. The Kinks? The band’s earliest work can’t be had on iTunes.
Dig deeply (and obscurely) enough and you’re sure to find more gems that haven’t made their way to iTunes. The good news—as the Beatles, Led Zep, and Zappa have shown—is that these holes may be eventually filled. Resurrecting older recordings—particularly when you’re not concerned about packaging and shipping them—is more possible today than it ever was.
What other artists are missing from iTunes that you’d like to see?