Def Leppard’s Catalog Finally Available to Stream and Download
In addition to revealing summer 2018 tour dates with Journey, Def Leppard had another piece of good news to share today. After years of legal and contractual wrangling, the band's catalog is now available on all major streaming and digital download services.
"We don't like things to dribble," singer Joe Elliott told Rolling Stone about the surprise. "We don't like to release information in drips and drops if there's no big pow. We like a good explosion in our announcement."
Impressively, the Def Leppard catalog rollout is comprehensive, and stretches from the band's three-song 1979 debut, The Def Leppard E.P. (which was reissued on vinyl for 2017's Record Store Day), to their latest album, 2015's self-titled effort. That also means everything in between -- including the blockbusters Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalize -- are available to crank at full volume via your chosen digital device.
Elliott told Rolling Stone that the band was up for making its catalog available online "quite a while ago," as their initial wariness about streaming had thawed. "We weren't going to be victims of the industry," he said. "We signed our deal with Mercury many, many decades ago when there was no digital part of the record deal. So when [our contract ended] in 2009, we were free to do whatever we wanted to do. We were so busy touring and not worrying about the back catalog – because people were still buying CDs – that we weren't sure about [embracing] streaming."
However, the members of Def Leppard were adamant about finding the "right" deal for the band, both financially and practically. "We didn't want certain albums on one service and others through another one," Elliott said. "So negotiating everything with different places just takes time."
As the frontman has discussed over the years, these negotiations were often contentious. In fact, the band actually re-recorded "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Rock of Ages," and streamed these versions in lieu of the originals. "We're trying to wrestle back our career and ownership of these songs," Elliott told Classic Rock in 2012. "They [Universal] own the originals, we're at loggerheads with them over the digital rights. And as long as they're playing silly buggers, we'll just keep recording them again.
"Until we can come to some kind of humane conclusion to this ridiculous stand-off, we're going to say f--- you!" he added. "We were offered a great deal [in 2010] and shook hands on it. And then some other t--- at the label put a stop to it. It's our life and our music, and we're not going to let them exploit us to the extent that they're trying to."
Still, a more welcoming business environment at Universal Records in recent years sealed the deal, and patched up the digital divide. "It makes life easier," Elliott told Rolling Stone. "We were able to come to the decision that it was the right thing to do and have it all come out at once."
Until today, Def Leppard had been one of classic rock's last remaining digital holdouts. Former holdouts AC/DC, the Beatles and Bob Seger made their catalogs available in 2012, 2015 and 2017, respectively. However, Tool and King Crimson famously don't stream their records, while the output of other artists (such as Peter Gabriel and Joan Jett) is incomplete across streaming services.
A few major records (such as Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) are also absent, although Steve Hackett recently shared what appeared to be some good digital news about that Genesis classic in an Ultimate Classic Rock interview. "Funny enough, I've been talking to the Genesis office about The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which people were hoping to be able to download single tracks from," he said. "We've all just given our blessing to that – now you don't have to listen to the whole thing. You can just go to your favorite track, whether it's "The Carpet Crawlers" or "Back in N.Y.C." In the spirit of goodwill and just saying "green lights all around," it's very good that we all came to an agreement very quickly."