Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Are we close to the point of seeing CDs disappear entirely? Could that happen? Hey, listen: Vinyl's almost disappeared. 78's disappeared. I'm not a soothsayer, and I can't really say if people are going to give up on the physical side of intellectual property. But we may be a dying breed, those of us who still crave the idea of physically holding something while we listen to it. That's why we still put out the booklets with all the information in them, because we hope that people will still be reading it by the time they get to song five. It's like when I had 12-inch vinyl as a kid: I used to read the liner notes. If it took forever to read all the special thanks, it was my right to do that. Somebody under 25, maybe they genuinely just don't care. They never had it in the first place to miss it.
A lot of people hardly seem to even listen to albums all the way through anymore thanks to downloading and the iPod thing. How do you as an artist deal with that? Do you have an iPod yourself? I do. In fact, I just broke it. It fell and got crushed in one of our live rig's hydraulics. It still plays, but I can't read the screen. I've got to find somebody to replace my screen. I'm on my fourth iPod now because the other three exploded.
You must have a lot of songs loaded up, then. How many on your current one? It's a 60-gig, and there's 37 gigs used, so about 10,000 songs. I'm trying to get all of my collection on it when I go on tour so I don't miss anything.
I'm the same way. I've got about 13,800 on mine. It's taken me ages to get them on there. I've got them all backed up back home, so I can bail myself out, but it's a pain in the arse.
But back to your original question about albums and downloading. It's kind of a double-edged sword. The songs on our album, Yeah!, are by artists whom we didn't necessarily buy albums of. When I was a kid, a 7-inch single was all you could afford to buy, maybe one a week. You'd have to be very frugal about what you might pick. For example, nobody bought into the idea of buying a Sweet album, they bought into the idea of buying a Sweet single. We go on and on about how great "Hell Raiser," "Action," "Blockbuster," and "Ballroom Blitz" are, but ask anyone outside of me and Phil [Collen, Def Leppard guitarist] to name an album track of theirs, and they couldn't do it.
So if someone decides to buy the single or a track off our new album from iTunes or wherever, to me it's just a digital version of us going into a record store and buying a 7-inch single. I don't really have a problem with that. If they're buying the single, they're buying into the myth of the song and not into the band. Like everybody, I understand and get that people may love "Pour Some Sugar on Me" but not really dig us. Like I bought Jo Jo Gunne's "Run Run Run" when I was 12 - it's the only song I ever heard of theirs. I don't know if they're a good band or a bad band. But I have fond memories of them by the fact that I haven't "tainted" them. I haven't heard a second song that I've thought was awful.
The Now! albums are huge sellers because you get the cream of the crop, the hit singles. And if somebody just wants one or two K.C. and the Sunshine Band songs instead of an entire album's worth, then you have the opportunity. I know it's a little weird. It's like buying one slice of bread instead of an entire loaf. But if that's all you want, you should be able to buy it.