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EMI Cannot Unbundle Pink Floyd Songs 601

Posted by timothy
from the but-this-is-on-the-internet dept.
smooth wombat writes "Before the advent of iTunes and MP3s, EMI and Pink Floyd entered into a contract which stated that EMI could not unbundle individual songs from their original album settings. This was insisted upon by the members of Pink Floyd, who wanted to retain artistic control of their works, which they considered 'seamless' pieces of music. However, with the advent of digital downloads, EMI has been selling individual songs through its online store. Pink Floyd sued, claiming EMI was violating the contract, whereas EMI said the contract only applied to physical albums, not Internet sales. Judge Andrew Morritt backed the band, saying the contract protected 'the artistic integrity of the albums.' Judge Morritt also ruled EMI is 'not entitled to exploit recordings by online distribution or by any other means other than the complete original album without Pink Floyd's consent.'"
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EMI Cannot Unbundle Pink Floyd Songs

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  • Emi (Score:5, Funny)

    by Theoboley (1226542) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `yeloboeht'> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:40PM (#31442476) Homepage
    all in all, they just ran into a wall.
    • Re:Emi (Score:5, Funny)

      by Fieryphoenix (1161565) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:45PM (#31442566)
      We don't need no compilations!
      • Re:Emi (Score:5, Funny)

        by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb.gmail@com> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:48PM (#31442604) Homepage Journal

        Hey, Leachers, leave that band alone!

        (Alternate title: Several Species of Nasty Verminous Lawyers Gathered Together in a Basement Groveling Over a Contract)

      • Re:Emi (Score:5, Insightful)

        by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @05:02PM (#31444188)

        If you don't buy yer "Another Brick in the Wall: Part 2" you can't have yer "Another Brick in the Wall: Part 1!" How can you buy "Another Brick in the Wall: Part 2" if you don't buy yer "Another Brick in the Wall: Part 1?!?"

  • I don't remember, how much money does a band get per (legally) downloaded audio track?

    If they want their art to be bundled and only sold that way, and EMI agreed to it, good for them. But at the same time, (assuming they care, they may not) they could also be limiting themselves on the amount of money they could be making.

    As I said, I doubt they care, but it's interesting to me.

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:46PM (#31442580)

      For Pink Floyd this is about artistic integrity, not profit. They've already made their money. For EMI it's all about profit, and that's why Pink Floyd put that provision in the contract.

      This is a win for Pink Floyd, and a loss for labels who think they can do whatever they want.

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:53PM (#31442744)
        There is no downside to this ruling. Admittedly, people who would like to download only parts of Pink Floyd albums will be disappointed, but from a stand point of what is good for society this is a good ruling. Of course, if copyright didn't extend longer than it should, this ruling would be irrelevant since Pink Floyd's music would be in the public domain by now (or within a couple of years anyway).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by madsenj37 (612413)
          There is a down side to this ruling. Many who want songs and not full albums at the price offered will revert to piracy. This will hurt the bottom line of EMI and Pink Floyd, weather or not they care, they will be compensated for their efforts.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bakkster (1529253)

            That's a possible downside of their decision, not of the ruling itself. It's good for musicians to rule that their contracts covering physical record sales also give them the same rights for digital sales.

        • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:31PM (#31443572) Journal
          It appears that EMI plans to continue selling single Pink Floyd tracks, effectively ignoring the ruling. Apparently, the judge merely said that what they were doing was against their contract, he did not explicitly tell EMI to stop doing it or that EMI would face any penalty for continuing.

          From the BBC article:

          An EMI statement said: "Today's judgment does not require EMI to cease making Pink Floyd's catalogue available as single track downloads, and EMI continues to sell Pink Floyd's music digitally and in other formats."

        • One downside (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RingDev (879105)

          While I applaud the decision, it does kinda bum me out. This album was released over 30 years ago. Under the original 1790 copy right laws, this album would have just entered public domain. Thanks to Sony Bono the album wont hit public domain until the earliest of 2084.

          -Rick

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eldavojohn (898314) *

        For Pink Floyd this is about artistic integrity, not profit.

        Then why would Pink Floyd ask for royalties as damages? How long did these bundled sales go on before Pink Floyd decided to sue?

        From the BBC article [bbc.co.uk]:

        EMI disagreed but a judge has sided with Pink Floyd. The ruling is part of a long-running battle between the two sides over £10m in unpaid royalties.

        I also am a huge fan of Pink Floyd but I believe your altruistic views of Floyd are a bit misplaced. I dare say this may be a deeper battle with greed also playing a part and 'art' being used as a facade. If they were concerned about their art, from day one they would have denied radio stations the ability to play their work on the radio without the ent

      • by TheRealGrogan (1660825) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:08PM (#31443058)

        You think that's a win? It just means more Pink Floyd songs will be downloaded on file sharing services rather than purchased legitimately. When all that is left is illegitimate means you can guarantee that's the route people will take. This time, it's the artists I have no sympathy for. That's a switch.

        Maybe they don't even mind if people share their music (having "already made their money"), which would be admirable, but it's still a disservice to their fans to not give them a legitimate avenue other than "buy a CD" (which for me personally would amount to maybe 20% to 30% of a Pink Floyd album that I actually like.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          It seems like one mp3 of the whole album should be fine to sell.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by PCM2 (4486)

          but it's still a disservice to their fans to not give them a legitimate avenue other than "buy a CD" (which for me personally would amount to maybe 20% to 30% of a Pink Floyd album that I actually like.

          Doesn't sound like you're much of a "fan" to me.

      • For Pink Floyd this is about artistic integrity, not profit. They've already made their money. For EMI it's all about profit, and that's why Pink Floyd put that provision in the contract.

        This is a win for Pink Floyd, and a loss for labels who think they can do whatever they want.

        Oh please. Pink Floyd has every right to do this, but they're being either very weird or just plain hypocritical. For all of the talk of artistic integrity, and about how the songs are a seamless whole, they have no problem with the individual songs being played as singles on radio stations to sell the albums, do they?

        I think this has more to do with "make people buy the whole album" than it does with any artistic vision.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      I don't remember, how much money does a band get per (legally) downloaded audio track?

      If they want their art to be bundled and only sold that way, and EMI agreed to it, good for them. But at the same time, (assuming they care, they may not) they could also be limiting themselves on the amount of money they could be making.

      As I said, I doubt they care, but it's interesting to me.

      Well, the result included an undisclosed settlement of royalties paid to Pink Floyd by EMI based on past sales. So it could be as serious as the difference album versus fractional purchase of everyone who bought only fractions of Pink Floyd albums.

      If it's in the contract, it's in the contract. I question why Pink Floyd bothered to divide them into tracks or to name them different names if they truly were 'seamless.' I understand that the Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, etc of songs like "Shine on You Crazy Dia

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by profplump (309017)

        Radio. It's much easier to get playtime for 4 minutes than 40.

      • Or they approached EMI first, then eventually went to court, then it was there for a couple of years, and now it's done. The article doesn't mention when they first complained. They say the contract is from a decade ago, which sounds about a quarter-century short of Dark Side, and certainly post-Waters.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I question why Pink Floyd bothered to divide them into tracks or to name them different names if they truly were 'seamless.'

        I can tell that you don't listen to any classical music. It's about the composition as a whole, which is comprised of smaller pieces or movements. Floyd is (well, was) doing the same thing, except via modern instrumentation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dgatwood (11270)

          And at the same time, I have never heard classical recording artists complain that their labels are making individual movements available to their listeners. Heck, they're happy that they *have* listeners. Ecstatic, really, in this day and age. And I don't see composers whining about it, either. Lord knows, if somebody wants to do part of a piece I wrote, if it is divided into movements, more power to them. If I wanted it performed as a single work, I wouldn't have divided it up into chunks.

          Heck, some

      • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (kwelris)> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:11PM (#31443138)

        Why do authors often give names to chapters in their books, if they never intend on having chapters published individually?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356)

          Why do authors often give names to chapters in their books, if they never intend on having chapters published individually?

          The chapter head is a teaser and a bookmark.

          It urges the reader to continue on. But allows him a much-needed time-out.

          Back in the day - and it wasn't so very long ago, really - novel-length stories were often first published in serial installments in newspaper and magazines like the old Saturday Evening Post.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CapnStank (1283176)
      I believe its because Pink Floyd is not worried about their wealth but rather the distribution of their art. The concept is crazy, I know, but there are people out there who do things for other reasons than greed in today's modern world, despite what EMI will have you believe
    • Well, the question is not did PF use this to stop EMI from selling it separately, but did they do it to try to get out of the contract and regain control over their songs?
    • by Anonymous Monkey (795756) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:50PM (#31442670)
      I think Pink Floyd isn't worried about money any more. This is about art, and obviously art is more important than money for them. This keeps them from having lots of lame boxed sets made, or songs downloaded out of context so the artistic point gets blunted.

      My hat is off to you Pink Floyd!

      • This is about art, and obviously art is more important than money for them.

        Of course. They already HAVE the money.

        It's easy to look like something is more important than money when you already have all the money you want.

        I'm not saying your statement is true or false. I'm saying that this lawsuit does not necessarily prove that. Now, if they started giving all their money to charities... in other words, getting RID of their money ... then I'd be more inclined to believe it. As it is, they're not losing anything, except possibly future sales. But we all know that isn't a loss,

    • by Another, completely (812244) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:50PM (#31442678)

      Albums like Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are made as single things. It was the glory days of the concept album. The best track is like the best square inch of a good painting, and they don't want to be judged on that. Good on 'em.

      What I want to know is whether this means that EMI reckons we can freely copy EMI songs from that period because their copyrights applied to the physical album only, so a digital copy from vinyl is OK for free distribution.

    • These guys ain't the poor artists that the RIAA likes you to believe exists (and works very hard at trying to create by not actually paying royalties they collect to artists). So i doubt they give a shit. Really, they don't have to go dumpster diving anytime soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      If copyright lengths were sane the whole thing would be moot; Dark Side of the Moon is thirty five years old. This journal [slashdot.org] infringes Pink Floyd's copyright, but it shouldn't. It would stand without the copyright violation (which may be fair use, I don't know) but it wouldn't be nearly as good (or would be even worse, depending on your opinion of it) without it.

  • by egcagrac0 (1410377) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:43PM (#31442510)

    Let's hope they get permanently blocked by their ISP (and others) for three strikes.

    • by causality (777677) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:49PM (#31442642)

      Let's hope they get permanently blocked by their ISP (and others) for three strikes.

      It'd be unfortunate for it to have to come to that, but it would be an ultimately good thing if such advocates for ever stringent copyright laws got a taste of their own medicine. In a way, that's what is happening here. Pink Floyd is only able to exert this control (and have a judge back them up) because of the strict nature of copyright law, including over songs that are significantly older than many folks participating in this discussion. It seems that EMI and others who lobby for more copyright restrictions have gotten what they wanted. It's viscerally satisfying to see that what they want and try so hard to get more of is not always how they imagined it to be.

  • by hubert.lepicki (1119397) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:43PM (#31442516)

    doesn't make any sense. Pink Floyd's music is meant to be listened to as a whole, albums are (the good ones) carefully prepared and are one piece of music story.

    • I am a fan of Pink Floyd - some of their music can easily be removed and sold individually. Comfortably Numb, Money, Time, Learning to Fly, etc, can all be enjoyed individually with little to no "loss" in atmosphere.

      This is how it is played on radio, this is how people have been introduced to it. But once you start listening to the CDs as a whole, you'll never want to go back to one-off radio play. Seeing Roger Waters play Dark Side of the Moon was amazing - and you have to agree with Pink Floyd, something

    • Yeah, I don't think this sort of thing bothers me. I think it will probably hurt their sales in some ways, but whatever.... as long as they sell it DRM-free and don't try to negotiate weird/strict licensing deals and stuff like that.

      I know we like to live in a black and white world where every action is either evil or terrific based purely on the action itself, but the motivations really do matter. I think it sucks when a record label picks out the couple of songs that you really want on an album and say

    • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:59PM (#31442864)

      I'd take that one step further, I wish mp3 players were designed with a easy "Continue on to next track" feature for random play. I love having my iPod on shuffle, except when playing things that segue like Dark Side of The Moon or Abbey Road or Frank Zappa's Apostrophe. When a tune like "Brain Damage" comes on, it would be nice to have an one-push feature that will continue to "Eclipse", as opposed to Floydus Interruptus.

    • by DWIM (547700)

      Pink Floyd's music is meant to be listened to as a whole, albums are (the good ones) carefully prepared and are one piece of music story.

      Except for the singles the band agreed to release, right? You know, "Money," "Us and Them," "Have a cigar," "Wish You Were Here," "Another Brick in the Wall," etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yes, those are different. They agreed to release those as singles. Doesn't change the fact that their contract with EMI says that EMI can not sell their albums as anything but the full album without PF's consent.

  • There goes any hopes for Pink Floyd on Rock Band or Guitar Hero...

  • Radio? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:44PM (#31442532)

    It's funny because radio destroys this "artistic integrity" by playing Pink Floyd singles every day.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I think the only purpose of radio is to destroy artistic integrity.

  • ...this is about a record label subverting a contract. EMI clearly feels EMI will make more money by subverting the contract and selling tracks, Pink Floyd clearly feels Pink Floyd will make more money by selling entire albums and doesn't want to jeopardize that. EMI is probably right, Pink Floyd possibly so. The courts only come in due to the fact that they can actually afford to sue their label over EMI's failure to live up to its contract.

    • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:49PM (#31442658)

      You know, this might be a bit of a shock for you but sometimes, on very rare occasions, people make decisions where monetary profit is not the prime motivator. This might be one such case...

    • ...this is about a record label subverting a contract. EMI clearly feels EMI will make more money by subverting the contract and selling tracks, Pink Floyd clearly feels Pink Floyd will make more money by selling entire albums

      Pink Floyd doesn't feel there's more money in album sales. They feel that they didn't make individual pieces, they made a whole, and they feel that it should only be sold as a whole.

      • They feel that they didn't make individual pieces, they made a whole, and they feel that it should only be sold as a whole.

        Pink Floyd can say whatever they want and they've made their millions so they can do whatever they want in the name of "artistic integrity" but I think that argument is nonsense. If it was a single work then why did they make individual tracks? Fact is the songs on their albums are discrete works which can be listened to independently. Their albums are rarely listened to in their entirety - a fact I'm sure they are well aware of.

        They can sell their works however they want and I'm fine with that but I don

    • by causality (777677)

      ...this is about a record label subverting a contract. EMI clearly feels EMI will make more money by subverting the contract and selling tracks, Pink Floyd clearly feels Pink Floyd will make more money by selling entire albums and doesn't want to jeopardize that. EMI is probably right, Pink Floyd possibly so. The courts only come in due to the fact that they can actually afford to sue their label over EMI's failure to live up to its contract.

      I have not audited their finances, of course, but I seriously doubt that Pink Floyd is hurting for money. I imagine they are enjoying a large degree of financial security. Additionally, this is music that has had an enduring appeal for decades now and is not some one-hit wonder or trendy pop music that gets their 15 minutes of fame, milks that for all the money they can get, and fades into obscurity. For these reasons, I'm more inclined to believe that this is truly an artistic concern over how they want

  • Merciless, the magistrate turns 'round [to EMI,] frowning.
  • "One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces"
  • A win is a win. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by singingjim1 (1070652)
    This doesn't prevent Pink Floyd from making a separate deal to sell individual songs. To me it's more about smacking down EMI for trying to bypass contract verbiage and I applaud that. It's nice to see that a judge thinks an artist's vision of their work actually counts for something.
  • So, my guess is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:53PM (#31442750)

    That Slashdot will generally back up PF in this, because they are standing up to the evil record label.

    Which seems to be somewhat contradictory to the general opinion that record labels (and/or artists? information wants to be free? evil copyright?) should not be allowed to have such tight control over how things are sold.

    So here's a record label making it EASIER to get tracks and we're upset about it, because PinkFloyd wants to only sell complete albums. I guess that's their artistic license... but aren't they being evil and putting strict terms on how you acquire their music? I've heard plenty of arguments how that shouldn't be allowed, it's not fair, etc., unless you're talking about physical media. And PF is now suing over distribution of non-physical media ...

    So yes: in my opinion, EMI is breaking a contract. Bad.

    And in my opinion/guess, Slashdot is going to generally be contradicting themselves, upholding a "non-freedom" position (PF's) because it happens to be against what the record label wants.

    If PF wanted it to be listened to as a whole, then make it one track. Or make it movements, like symphonies... etc. For that matter, think of all the symphonies that are sold by movement. Separately... :)

    • Protecting their artistic integrity is evil? Get real. Pink Floyd isn't the only band that doesn't allow their albums to be butchered and sold like pop music happy meals.
    • by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <.marc.paradise. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:31PM (#31443568) Homepage Journal
      Fortunately Slashdot consists of many minds and some of them don't view this is a contradiction at all. That is: PF has the right to control distribution however it wants to -- moreover, EMI supported that as well, in the contract they signed. Beyond that: information has no desires and can't want to be free, but artists (and even labels) are within their rights to want to get paid.
  • Song flow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SoTerrified (660807) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:54PM (#31442778)

    I never realized how intercoupled the songs on Pink Floyd albums were until I happened to listen to the songs on my mp3 device while set to 'random song'. It was jumping all over my music collection, and all the Pink Floyd songs were either jarring to come into or ended abruptly. I can see why they didn't want them split up. They really are parts of a whole with a few exceptions.

    But c'mon, what balls on EMI. Because they signed a contract that said EMI could only sell the records if they were intact, EMI tried to weasel out by saying they weren't selling records. But then I remember this is one of the labels behind the RIAA extortion scheme, so I shouldn't be surprised.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      In general, I agree -- most Floyd songs don't work when pried out of their context, though there are exceptions. And certainly, EMI deserved the spanking that they, for once, got.

      That said, every time I hear someone talk about "artistic integrity", I reach for my revolver. It's one of those bullshit art industry marketing terms like "authenticity" that doesn't actually mean anything. My experience of a work of art is internal to me. Sometimes I give a shit about what the artist was thinking, and sometimes I

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mikael_j (106439)

        I have to disagree with you about artistic integrity, it's definitely something that should be respected.

        I do however agree that it gets thrown around a bit too much in situations where it's not applicable, for me it's mostly a matter of allowing the artist to have a say in how his/her artwork is presented to the viewer/listener. How you choose to listen to Dark side of the moon shouldn't be up to the artist but how the album is being sold should definitely be something that Pink floyd should have a say in

  • ...for sticking to their guns. Artistic integrity isn't generally a concern of popular musicians.
  • by boristdog (133725) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:22PM (#31443362)

    Ever since the advent of the long-playing record as the popular music medium, many artists have been making music that flows for 20 to 45 minutes, not just music that lasts for 3 or 4 minutes. Sure, singles still got made, but most real artists thought in terms of albums, not songs. The CD reinforced that model, allowing artists to flow their music for even longer. Even on albums that appear to be mostly singles, a lot of thought went into how they were arranged on the record.

    The advent of itunes killed this. And it's a shame. Young music marketers don't even think beyond 5 minutes of music. Would Thick as a Brick, Tommy, Sgt. Pepper, The Who Sell Out, Brain Salad Surgery, 2112, Ziggy Stardust or any of the Pink Floyd or any number of classic albums even be able to be made in this new "single" only model?

    Floyd has their money, they want to keep their integrity.

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @07:35PM (#31446482)

      The decline of albums happened long before iTunes. Back in the days of the cassette tape, there were singles. Then the CD single came along. The really technology to blame was MTV.

      Frontline covered this topic in 2004 in an episode called The way the music died. [pbs.org]

      "What it did really is make the business a one trick pony -- and everything became about the three minutes, the single, the hit single," entertainment attorney Michael Guido tells FRONTLINE. "I think the album died with MTV. The culture in the record companies in the last 20 years has been to reward artists for three minutes of music, not for 40 minutes of music."

      The music industry because obsessed with promoting the single only. Albums then became about getting one or two hit singles packaged with a dozen other songs. The music industry shifted focus to selling a song rather than selling the artist.

      iTunes was only about selling what the Apple thought their customers wanted. There wasn't a very easy way to get music online at all whether a consumer wanted a single or an entire album. If Apple could provide this store/service they would have an advantage over other players. I'd say Apple was correct in that assumption. They didn't drive this demise; they merely used it to their advantage.

  • by RapmasterT (787426) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:56PM (#31444070)
    This isn't an issue of profit versus art, or even single track versus album, the issue here is that EMI had a god damned contract with the artist that specifically said NOT to do something...which they then did. And then excused it with the thin excuse that "it didn't count" because it only applied to physical albums...which then by their own argument meant they had NO contract rights to electronic distribution.

    Any ruling OTHER than overwhelmingly in favor of Pink Floyd would have set a precedent that would basically invalidate all artists rights and let the studios run roughshod over everyone.

    So rather than say "yay, Pink Floyd won!", we should be saying "what the fuck did EMI think they were doing?".
  • by Pontiac (135778) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @05:08PM (#31444304) Homepage

    From the article

    The judge also ruled on a second issue, the level of royalties paid to the band. That section of the judgment was made in private after EMI argued the information was covered by commercial confidentiality.

    I suspect the real issue here was EMI paying a lower royalty fee for online salve vs a contract set rate for album sales.

    Winning in this case puts Puck Floyd in the driver seat when it comes to negotiating a new online sales contract with EMI.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @08:08PM (#31446854)

    ...if you're stupid enough to part with good money just for the pleasure of having your hard disk heads move in such a way so as to create some crappy, lossy music files on your PC, then you're probably too stupid to appreciate their music...

    Sorry, kiddies, but you need to face some facts - the vast majority of modern music is about elevating talentless people into the limelight as quickly as possible so they're too shell-shocked to demand too much in royalties; this maximises record company profits & means they're also cheap to dump when they start getting too greedy.

    This in turn implies that due to a lack of musical ability, they're incapable of producing music albums that have more than one or two good tracks on them, thus explaining why the modern "great unwashed" now want to treat music like "Pick N Mix" sweeties and just choose the tracks they like (which also happen to be the only ones that are any good).

    So speaking as the complete and utter music snob that I am, let me sit here and do nothing else but enjoy my nice hi-fidelity, old-fashioned Pink Floyd music CDs from start to finish on my nice expensive hi-fi system whilst you children go off & run around at the gym whilst listening to your "ever so modern" formulaic plastic music...

    Rant mode disengaged.

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