Rick Allen has hinted that DEF LEPPARD is close to coming to terms with the Universal Music Group over digital rights for some of the band’s best-known material.
In 2012, DEF LEPPARD began re-recording its biggest hits, including 1983’s “Rock Of Ages” and 1987’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, as a way to offer its fans a digital option while at the same giving a giant middle finger to the band’s longtime label Universal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Allen and his bandmates did this because they were at one point able to negotiate a sweetheart of a deal wherein they had approval over everything that was done with their songs — from special collections to licenses for movies, TV shows and games and their very availability online.
In a brand new interview with CNBC, the DEF LEPPARD drummer was asked why so many of the band’s most popular songs are still not available on streaming music services like Spotify. “That’s a good question,” he responded (see video below). “Our record company finally came to the table and we sorted out the digital rights. And I hope that that will be available soon.”
Asked what is going on behind the scenes and whether he is allowed to talk about any of that, Allen said, “Not really,” before laughing and adding: “It’s been a personal annoyance of mine for a long time. When we first made a lot of these records, digital didn’t exist. So there was never any provision put in there. So we’re trying to work that out.”
DEF LEPPARD singer Joe Elliott told The Hollywood Reporter in a 2012 interview that the fight with Universal was “about principle.” But, he admitted, “I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was about money because the problem we’ve got is, they want to pay us what we think is a ridiculously low rate. It’s a well-known fact: Artists throughout the years have always been shafted by record companies. … The reason we’re being so sticky about it is because two years ago, we made a deal with a gentleman at Universal who was pretty much on our side — he was a fan, a smart businessman and a fair guy — and we shook hands. Fifteen days later, somebody above his head said the deal’s not going through. To an Englishman, when you shake hands, it’s a binding contract, and Universal reneged on it. So we dug in our heels and said, ‘We’re gonna say a blanket no to anything that you ask for.'”
As a result of the disagreement, Universal “can’t release our back catalog, we’re not going to let them put a song on a compilation unless we want it there, and they’ll never be able to license,” the singer said. “They won’t be able to do anything without our permission because that’s in our contract.”
Elliott went on to say that the crux of the dispute centers on the fact that DEF LEPPARD wants “to get the same rate for digital as we do when we sell CDs, and they’re trying to give us a rate that doesn’t even come close. They illegally put up our songs for a while, paying us the rate they chose without even negotiating with us, so we had our lawyer take them down,” he explained.
“We made a decision years ago that we would try and wrestle back control,” he added. “And I think that’s something to be applauded. We are just trying to own what we’ve done. We own our T-shirt deals, our own staging, and our own rights to make whatever decisions we want. We’re not trying to milk our back catalog for billions of dollars, we’re just trying to get paid a fair amount.”
DEF LEPPARD is rumored to be planning a North American co-headlining tour with JOURNEY this summer. The trek is expected to be officially announced later this month.