Def Leppard Interrupted

If you looked for a digital version of Def Leppard’s greatest hits recorded 20-30 years ago, you would not be able to find them and it the legendary band had it their way, you never will! Def Leppard has retaliated against its long time record label, Universal, by endeavoring to rerecord their entire catalog and making their songs as close to the originals as possible. This unusual move is a desperate attempt to break the record label chains and regain some control and ownership of digital versions of their work given away years ago when the record companies had enormous leverage in the business and a number of renowned musicians made bad deals.

Apparently, the contract did not envision that the recorded music could be digitized sometime in the future, but as worded, rights to such digitization would remain with the label, allocating no royalties for the band. Universal, however, may not release the digital versions of the catalogue without the authorization of the band. And this miniscule piece of control left to the musicians is what Def Leppard is using to “game” the contract and get, what they believe is well deserved revenue for their work.

This project has put the band down an exciting yet difficult trip down history lane. Without a doubt they are enjoying reliving their glory days. According to the frontman, Joe Elliott, they are planning to make a good faith effort to recapture the exact same sound, voice, timing they had 30 years ago. Covers for epic hits like Rock of Ages and Pour Some Sugar on Me have already been recorded and are set to be released at the same time as Rock of Ages, the film, starring Tom Cruise.

This is not a unique case of successful artist retaliating against a record label. It is hard to forget “The artist formally known as Prince” and the beautiful, but ineffable symbol Prince used to go by in the 90s to avoid a $100 million contract he signed with Warner because the record company was trying to rein in his creative output to preserve his niche. Another cautionary tale is the Beatles catalogue copyrights which landed in the hands of Michael Jackson through his partial ownership of Sony/ATV.