Band ends holdout, catalog available on music store.

After a long-running holdout from digital distribution services that allow users to purchase individual songs, Metallica has finally made its catalog available online in North America via an exclusive with iTunes.

The band’s entire catalog was posted on the site yesterday, with individual tracks available for a la carte purchase.

“Over the last year or so, we have seen an ever-growing number of Metallica fans using online sites like iTunes to get their music. So, in continuing with the tradition of offering our albums for sale online (which we've been doing for a few years through various sites), as well as making our live concerts available for download in their entirety (through the livemetallica.com site), we are now offering fans the opportunity to obtain our songs individually,” the band said in a statement on its website.

In connection with the deal Metallica is releasing some previously unreleased live tracks from Seattle 1989 performance, which are being included as bonus material on the band’s first four albums “Kill 'Em All,” “Ride The Lightning,” “Master of Puppets,” and “...And Justice For All."

The band is still in the process of negotiating digital distribution deals outside the U.S. and Canada.

Over the last several years Metallica has made a reputation for itself as a controversial opponent of digital piracy, and a wary participant in the commercial digital distribution business.

The band clashed with Napster and its users in 2000, publicly criticizing the site and fans who were downloading Metallica songs using the service.

With the rise of iTunes in 2003, the band and its management were among the high-profile acts to hold out from participating in the service on the grounds that they didn’t want to cannibalize album sales with a la carte track purchases. However it has previously made its albums available for sale to digital services that are willing to sell material in an album-only format.

Metallica is the latest in a string of superstar acts finally making their material for sale on an a la carte basis through iTunes and other digital services. Since late last year, Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews Bands, among others, have inked similar deals with digital distributors.

Meanwhile talk continues to swirl around the prospect of the Beatles making their catalog available online, perhaps in connection with a new Microsoft digital music service set to bow later this year.

Other continuing big-name hold-outs from iTunes include Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Radiohead.

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