Sir Elton to digital download buyers: These are your songs
EmptyElton John's career-spanning catalog of more than 30 albums will be available as digital downloads for the first time starting Monday. Apple's iTunes Music Store will have the exclusive through April 30.
In addition, a selection of the artist's biggest hits will be issued for the first time as master ringtones, and a variety of his videos — including "I'm Still Standing" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (with Kiki Dee) — will be offered commercially online.
The new digital project coincides with the global release of the John compilation "Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits."
"I've wanted my music to be available for digital download worldwide for some time," John said, "but I knew that the entire catalog — not just the hits — needed care and attention to be released in this way."
Meanwhile, Madison Square Garden on Sunday will commemorate John's 60th performance at the famed New York venue as he celebrates his 60th birthday. John has played the Garden more than any other act, and a banner marking "Most Performances by a Single Artist" will be raised to the rafters and placed within the arena's Music Hall of Fame.
The Grateful Dead had held the record for most performances (52) before John eclipsed the mark in October 2001. Sunday's show will be recorded and broadcast April 5 in the U.S. on MyNetworkTV.
John acknowledged the importance of touring when he accepted the Legend of Live Award at the Billboard Touring Conference in November.
"(This award) means a helluva lot because of all the things I do musically, playing live is definitely the most rewarding thing," John said. "It gets you in contact with people, (and) it gets you scared. It's the most rewarding thing a musician can do. And the more you do it, the more you seem to love it. Well, I do, anyway."
Lars Brandle, global news editor at Billboard, reported from London; Ray Waddell, an executive director at Billboard, reported from Nashville.