Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Sounds of silence

Millions of new customers buying music over the Internet often are frustrated because they cannot find major acts, such as the Beatles, which have not licensed their songs for sale online, even though they can illegally be downloaded free on unauthorized services.

+ Tom Petty starts selling songs on revamped Napster, two weeks before Apple's iTunes and other sites. Petty's label, Universal, lobbied heavily for six months to get him to agree to online sales. But, he's not selling out-takes from the 1995 92-song compilation Playback. Petty, not his label, owns the rights to those performances and he wants them held off the Internet so as not to diminish the value of the compilation.

+ Madonna will not sell individual songs over the Internet. She thinks the artistic concepts of her albums will be destroyed if they are cut up and sold as singles. Wal-Mart and BuyMusic have agreed to her demands; American Life CD can be purchased online there. The CD is navailable on iTunes or Napster.

+ Radiohead also will not allow sales of individual singles online. But Wal-Mart was selling several tracks from Kid A as singles for 88 cents each. A day after Radiohead's label, EMI, was informed of this, sales of the singles were halted.

+ Alternative music group XTC allows sales on Wal-Mart and Napster sites, but not on iTunes and BuyMusic.

+ Other artists not allowing online sales: the Beatles, Dave Matthews Band, Garth Brooks, the Grateful Dead, AC/DC, the Cars. The Beatles was among the last groups to license their music for sale on CDs in the 1980s. Their label, EMI, continues to negotiate with surviving band members, spouses and heirs, who remain unswayed.



Apple Computer launched the service in April, selling singles for 99 cents and some albums for $9.99. Claims a catalog of 500,000 songs. Sold more than 30-million songs.


Gained fame as a free music-sharing service. Shut down in 2001 after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled it infringed on the copyright owners. Relaunched in 2003 as a pay service by new owner Roxio Inc. Sells singles for 99 cents, some albums for $9.95. Claims a catalog of 500,000 songs.

Music download service launched in 2003. Singles sell for 88 cents. Some albums sell for less than $10.

Launched service in July. Singles sell for 99 cents. Claims a catalog of 300,000 songs.

Source: Washington Post reports