Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen on Spotify: ‘It’s a bummer getting ripped off’

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen is speaking out on Spotify’s practices and why much of the band’s catalog is absent from the streaming behemoth. Collen, who spoke with CT Now recently, has slammed the service comparing it to Napster’s early years and “getting ripped off.”

“I love what Taylor Swift has done [i.e. keeping her music off of Spotify]. I have a friend who is a songwriter, and he had a song that got over a million plays on Spotify, and he received 12 pounds, about $18-$19. That really sums it up. It’s bad, if not worse, than the whole Napster thing and downloading when it started,” Collen states.

He continues, “Again, a CEO from [Spotify] would make an amazing profit, whereas the artist is taken advantage of. I’m not a fan of that. I don’t know where [Def Leppard] stand in the future, but perhaps it would be good to do something else. When they show their true colors, you go, ‘Well, it’s the same old story again,’ like some old blues guy getting $50 and actually owing his whole catalog for life to someone who’s ripped him off. It’s a little like that. It happens all the time with artists, Michelangelo or whomever, back in the day. William Blake died penniless doing brass etchings, living on someone’s floor. A businessman will probably think an artist is just content with the art. It’s a bummer getting ripped off.”

Collen also spoke about his band of 32 years recording new music that he says is diverse.

“The fact that we went in to record a song, or we were maybe going to try to get four songs together for an EP, and we came out after the first four weeks in Dublin with 12 songs, was remarkable. Really, what it boils down to is that there was absolutely no pressure,” he explains. “There were no record company executives. No one was expecting anything. We just started suggesting ideas to each other, instead of what we normally do: ‘Well, we can’t do that, it doesn’t quite fit there,’ or like a [written] brief [would circulate] of what the new album should be. We didn’t have any of that. We just tried everything, and everyone was so enthusiastic. That enthusiasm: I can’t even remember it being there probably since the Hysteria album, when we were just so inspired.”

He continues, “In the past, someone would suggest something, and there’d be ten reasons why we couldn’t do it, as opposed to just doing it. With this one, there was freedom. The songs really range from the most over-the-top loud guitar that we’ve ever had on a Def Leppard record, to tracking the vocals up to where [it sounds like] Queen, like an a cappella version of one person. There will be another song that sounds like it’s not out of place in the Top 40. Collectively, all of these songs really work well together.”

“It’s bad, if not worse, than the whole Napster thing and downloading when it started.”

Collen goes on to state that the album was recorded during three periods over the course of the past year.

“The other thing is that we did it over three periods: February of 2014, May of 2014 and we just finished up this February,” he states. “Back in the days of the Stones, Otis Redding, David Bowie, the Beatles and Zeppelin, they’d get an idea for a song, go in and record it, and that would be it. They’d treat each song as a separate project. Again, that’s a very un-corporate way of working. The corporate way would be, ‘Guys, we’ve got the single. We need a backup single, and then we need some filler.’ A lot of the process of making records was that way for everyone for a long period of time. And it certainly is now, with the whole Beyonce/Taylor Swift-type of setup that’s out there. We didn’t have any of that. Again, it was pure inspiration, and it was great.”

The album is expected in October, but Collen tells WBPT 106.9 The Eagle not to expect to hear any of the new music on their summer tour with Styx and Tesla.

“Not even slightly. We don’t want — It comes out in October. I think we’re done [tou#ring] by then. We don’t want to play any of the stuff so it gets leaked out at all,” he states. “I think the first place that’s gonna see will be Japan actually because that’s where we go afterwards. They’ll get to see it. It just means that we have to come back and play in the States next year.”

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.