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Def Leppard catalogue finally appears on digital music services

By | Published on Friday 19 January 2018

Def Leppard

Def Leppard’s entire catalogue of recordings, as of today, is now available on digital music services. Up until now, the group had been holdouts from download stores and streaming services – the latter in particular due to apprehension about the business model.

Speaking to USA Today, frontman Joe Elliott explains: “We just had to get our heads around it. [We had the] same suspicion anyone has about anything new. The promise of what it can be, and what it is, is sometimes massively different”.

Actually having a sit down and giving it all a proper think was delayed, says Elliott, because the band “were doing OK” and felt they “weren’t really missing anything”, thanks to steady sales of concert tickets and physical records.

He goes on: “You start reading all these stories about [Lady] Gaga and Taylor [Swift] and ten trillion listens and then they get a cheque for 50 bucks or something, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really that big a deal’. [However] given a bit of time to sit down and think about it and read and do the research and listen to the right people, things just fell into place”.

With the band’s collective heads now around the business of streaming, they decided that releasing their catalogue digitally today made sense. The announcement coincides with the confirmation of dates for a 58 show US tour co-headlining with Journey, starting in May, plus UK and Ireland live shows that will see them through to the end of the year.

Also, Elliott adds, they were keen for everything to arrive at once because “it’s just more of an event”. Which, to be fair, he’s right about. “We didn’t want it coming out in dribs and drabs”, he says.

Def Leppard’s slow conversion to the world of digital music has an interesting history. In 2012, locked in a stand off with Universal Music over download royalties – and aided by a contract that gave them a veto over where their music was placed – the band began recording “forgeries” of old hits. Returning to the studio, they aimed to record cover versions that sounded as similar to the originals as possible, which they could then self-release online.

This proved quite a painstaking process, so didn’t get very far. Also, it seemed more like an exercise in point proving than anything else. But that done, just over five years later, the deadlock has been lifted.

In a statement, lead guitarist Phil Collen says: “We felt we’d been left out of the digital party but it’s a thrill to us to finally accept the invitation and to be able to say ‘yeah, you can stream us, download us and get us great on all of these digital outlets'”.

So, hey, why not go and download all of Def Leppard’s records while downloads are still a thing. If you want to get the lowdown on how digital services are licensed and royalties flow through, you can buy the newly published ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ book – published by the UK Music Managers Forum and written by CMU’s Chris Cooke – on Amazon here.