Rock Band Tool Is in Talks to Stream Album

  • Band’s first album in more than a decade said to spur talks
  • Group would join Beatles, Prince in embracing industry shift

Maynard James Keenan of Tool performing live on stage in 1997.

Photographer: Paul Bergen/Redferns

The rock band Tool is in talks to make its catalog available on streaming services in time for the release of its first album in more than a decade, according to people with knowledge of the matter, marking the end of another high-profile holdout to the music industry’s digital transition.

Members of Tool have been talking to the biggest services, including Spotify Ltd. and Apple Inc., about the best way to release their music, said the people, who asked not be identified discussing the private negotiations. Lead singer Maynard James Keenan didn’t respond to requests for comment. The music services declined to comment.

The hard-rock quartet, whose hits in the 1990s included “Sober” and “Prison Sex,” is one of the few major recording acts still unavailable on most streaming services. The steady flow of revenue from Spotify and its ilk have become essential to an industry still reeling from the advent of the internet, with record labels reporting sales growth for the first time in decades.

The Beatles gave in to streaming services a couple years ago, and the estate of Prince put his catalog online in February. While Taylor Swift still won’t offer some of her music on Spotify, users of pay services such as Apple Music can listen to all the country-pop they want.

The release date of Tool’s album is still unknown. Keenan has been in the studio recording, the band said on its website, a promising sign for followers.

Formed in the early 1990s by a quartet of emigres to Los Angeles, the group’s four studio albums all went platinum in the U.S., a designation for titles that sell more than a million copies. Two songs have won the Grammy award for best metal performance.

The music industry has changed dramatically since Tool’s last album, “10,000 Days,” which was released in 2006. YouTube was just a year old -- and not yet owned by Google -- Spotify didn’t exist and Apple was about to introduce the first iPhone. YouTube is now the most popular destination for music videos. Spotify pioneered the music-streaming market and Apple has followed with its own service.

Tool has often taken long breaks between albums, as Keenan worked with other groups like A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. The band spent much of the past decade battling its insurer in court. Tool plans to tour this summer, including a stop at the Governor’s Ball music festival in New York.

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