"[Bob] Seger's absence from digital services, combined with the gradual disappearance of even physical copies of half his catalog, suggest a rare level of indifference to his legacy," Tim Quirk wrote for NPR Music in late March in his feature, "Where Have All The Bob Seger Albums Gone?"
Today, much of Seger's music has finally arrived in the digital realm, and so half of that late-career dereliction — whether by design or overly tightened professional security — is now erased. Taylor who?
No less than 13 of Seger's previously unavailable albums — Beautiful Loser, Night Moves, Live Bullet, Stranger In Town, Nine Tonight, Against The Wind, The Distance, Greatest Hits, Like A Rock, Greatest Hits 2, The Fire Inside, Ultimate Hits and Ramblin' Gamblin' Man — are now available on most major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, but notably excluding both Pandora Premium and Tidal.
Unlike many streaming holdouts, the vast majority of Seger's music — even his bestselling Greatest Hits — was also never available to purchase as digital files. Compounding the problem, physical copies of many of his greatest albums also remain difficult to find, though some of Seger's albums, including Greatest Hits and his 1968 debut, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, are now being reissued on vinyl.
Punch Andrews, Seger's manager, told NPR Music that the catalog had remained offline mostly because of the low rates they pay artists. "For years, we have been asked to bring the catalog to streaming,'" Andrews said. "We have not pulled the trigger there because the rates are low; so low, in fact, that the label would not break it down and show the artist how little he would make. Bob has always been an album artist and that format has served him very well. Streaming and downloads have always favored singles artists."
Quirk's article, however, found that as availability of Seger's catalog, both digitally and physically, dwindled, so did radio plays (and, obviously, sales). Will Seger's new availability bring with it a new relevancy, or will he simply be another spoke in the wheel? Another blade of grass in a great big field?