As we recently noted, there are compulsory licenses
for doing cover song recordings, such that you don't need to ask for permission. It appears that the band Def Leppard is now taking advantage of that in an attempt to fight back against Universal Music (who they feel owe them royalties) by re-recording their entire back catalog
(sent in by a bunch of you) and re-releasing them. They're referring to their own re-recordings as "forgeries."
With newly recorded "forgeries" of "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Rock of Ages" now available, the quintet has begun a series of re-recordings of its catalog material and "wrestled control of our career back" from the Universal Music Group, which frontman Joe Elliott says the band refuses to deal with "until we come up with some kind of arrangement" over compensation, especially for digital downloads.
"When you're at loggerheads with an ex-record label who...is not prepared to pay you a fair amount of money and we have the right to say, 'Well, you're not doing it,' that's the way it's going to be," Elliott tells Billboard.com. "Our contract is such that they can't do anything with our music without our permission, not a thing. So we just sent them a letter saying, 'No matter what you want, you are going to get "no" as an answer, so don't ask.' That's the way we've left it. We'll just replace our back catalog with brand new, exact same versions of what we did."
Of course, you'd have to imagine that someone else still holds the publishing rights, but if the new "forgeries" -- which apparently take quite some time to get exactly right -- sell well, the band could end up keeping a much larger share of the money. Either way, this seems like yet another story in a very, very long line of such stories, of bands reporting on the many ways in which the major labels have screwed them over. Makes you wonder if there are any acts who feel they weren't screwed over by their major label...