Top Six Artist Vs. Record Label Feuds

Pink Floyd has finally settled its lengthy dispute with their longtime record label EMI. The band, which signed to the label over 40 years ago, first took EMI to court last spring in an effort to clarify their existing contract. Floyd sought to prevent EMI from "unbundling" their albums by selling individual tracks online.

The battle endured through 2010 before reaching a settlement earlier this week. The compromise, which included the ordering of the label to pay the band's legal costs, must have been to Pink Floyd's liking, because the band also renewed its five-year deal with the label. The caveat? Pink Floyd's back catalogue is still available as single-track downloads.

Unfortunately, artist/label spats are dreadfully common, and it's no wonder EMI was willing to negotiate with Pink Floyd. Since the label was acquired by private equity firm Terra Firma in 2007, EMI has lost its high-profile acts including The Rolling Stones, Radiohead and Paul McCartney.

An artist signing with a major label is the quintessential catch-22. While major labels knowingly have the deepest pockets, they often obstruct an artist's true artistic vision, locking them into years-long contracts with dwindling freedom of choice. Many modern artists choose to forgo, or abandon, major labels and instead release their music with independent labels, which are usually more prone to working with an artist for the purpose of making music, not money.

Pink Floyd's recent squabble got Rocks Off thinking about some of the more cunningly colorful artist/label quarrels of the past. The gloves are off!

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Neph Basedow
Contact: Neph Basedow