AC/DC ends streaming resistance as Apple Music launches


Singer Brian Johnson and guitarist Angus Young of AC/DC perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The band is allowing their catalog on streaming music services for the first time. 

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

AC/DC’s long defiance of streaming music services is coming to an end on the eve of Apple’s new music service debut. 

According to several people with knowledge of the matter, the Aussie outfit is making its catalog available on all streaming outlets including Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and the new Apple Music, which launches Tuesday.

The “Back in Black" Coachella headliners had long been among the most famous holdouts along with the Beatles, Tool and Garth Brooks.

But the ranks of the resistance have dwindled as all-access music has become more mainstream.


Fellow classic rock band Led Zeppelin had once kept music away from streaming companies, only to relent in 2013 through a deal with Spotify. AC/DC does not have a similar exclusive arrangement. 

Dr. Dre’s 1992 album “The Chronic” is also reportedly coming to Apple’s service after a long stint as a digital no-show. The rapper, whose real name is Andre Young, co-founded Beats, which Apple bought last year for $3 billion. 

AC/DC’s catalog, which includes 16 studio albums and four live records, wasn’t even available through iTunes’ download store until the rockers cut a deal with Apple in 2012. That was two years after the Beatles arrived in the online retailer’s library. 

Multiple legacy acts and modern-day superstars have been choosy about how they make their music available, fearing convenient streaming would hurt album sales. Many have complained about royalties from such services, which pale in comparison to the revenue from the heyday of CDs.


Taylor Swift pulled her catalog from the Swedish service Spotify in November to protest its free, ad-supported tier, which she said devalues her music. Swift recently threatened to withhold her album “1989" from Apple Music because of its now-reversed plan to not pay royalties during its 90-day free trial. 

The presence or absence of a single artist is unlikely to mean much to the likes of Spotify and Jay Z’s Tidal. The change in heart by AC/DC is an acknowledgment of the recorded music industry’s shift to streaming as young people become less inclined to own music. 

Physical albums sales are still declining and downloads are suffering a downturn as well, but subscription streaming is growing fast. Memberships to services such as Spotify and Deezer accounted for $1.6 billion in worldwide revenue last year, up 39% from 2013. 

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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