Stones Roll Online
Like Mick said, you can’t always get what you want. But beginning Monday, Rolling Stones fans can finally get what they need–legal online access to the band’s biggest licks.
The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band is making a portion of its vast catalog available for download for the first time.
For an exclusive time, hundreds of Stones classics will be offered via RealNetworks’ Rhapsody music service, with fans able to download the songs and burn them to their own CDs for less than 79 cents per track. The downloads will be in a specially encrypted digital format to prevent illegal swapping.
There’s one catch, and it’s a doozy. The deal only includes the band’s post-1971 output, meaning a bulk of the Stones’ biggest gems won’t be accessible, including “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
But the Stones and RealNetworks hope fans will have a gas, gas, gas being able to legitimally own digital downloads of the band’s catalog from its EMI Virgin years, which includes classic cuts like “Brown Sugar,” “Beast of Burden,” “Emotional Rescue,” “Angie,” “Tumbling Dice” and “Start Me Up” off such albums as Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Some Girls, as well as more recent releases, like Steel Wheels and Bridges to Babylon.
“We’re thrilled that Rhapsody is the first stop for these timeless rock recordings. Now, Rolling Stones fans can finally get what they want–and today they can get it only through Rhapsody,” RealNetworks’ chief Rob Glaser said in a statement.
But not for long. RealNetworks only has the hits exclusively under its thumb for two weeks. Beginning September 2, rivals such as Apple’s iTunes Music Store, AOL’s MusicNet, and Roxio’s Pressplay subscription service will be able to offer the Stones’ nuggets.
To make the most of its monopoly, RealNetworks is launching a major promotional push by partnering with electronics retailer Best Buy. Consumers will have a chance to try out Rhapsody and sign up for a 14-day free trial through interactive kiosks that are being installed in more than 560 Best Buy outlets. After the trial ends, users must pay $9.95 a month to access any number of Rhapsody’s 360,000 songs.
The reason only the latter-era Stones will get the digital treatment and not the early stuff is because of ABKCO, which owns the classic ’60s tunes and has refused to make them available for download to CD.
Instead, the company has only granted permission for consumers to listen to more than 300 hundred pre-1971 Stone’s treasures, including “Satisfaction,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Street Fightin’ Man” and “Gimme Shelter,” via an Internet jukebox.
The Stones are newbies at distributing music online, and are one of the last remaining Hall of Fame acts to embrace digital distribution (the Beatles and Led Zeppelin are two notable holdouts). Some of the delay can be attributed to legal snags–the band’s catalog dates back 40 years to a time when digital licensing rights didn’t exist. Heck, the Stones, which formed in 1962, predate the Internet by seven years.
Now that the Stones are on board, it may convince other acts to finally relent. Aside from the Beatles and Zeppelin, the slow-adopter set includes Madonna, Linkin Park and Michael Jackson.
RealNetworks, which took over Rhapsody after buying out Listen.com, is also hoping that the participation of some of the biggest acts in the music biz will also help attract millions of users to legitimate digital services instead of illegal file-sharing programs such as Morpheus and KaZaA.
Meanwhile, it’s only rock and roll, but the AARP-eligible Stones still like it.
Continuing their yearlong “40 Licks” tour celebrating their four decades in the music biz, the Stones headlined a massive all-star concert for SARS-stricken Toronto last month that drew more than 450,000 people and recently announced new dates for their first ever gigs in China, months after having to reschedule due to the viral epidemic.
Stones Roll Online