Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Did Apple Kill The Music Industry? Bon Jovi Thinks So

Jon Bon Jovi has publicly come out against Steve Jobs and Apple for destroying the music industry and the local record store.

But it wasn't Apple that killed the music industry... it was the music industry that killed itself.

I don't use iTunes or any Apple product, so I am not defending the company, this is merely my observations on the situation. In fact, I am one of those strange people who is sort of against the idea of buying games, music, books and the like in digital download form because I like having the actual thing in my hand.

That being said, let's look at my objections.

First of all, when confronted with the threat/opportunity that digital downloads provided, the music industry kept its content locked in a vault or on media which it priced artificially high to maximize short term profits over long-term gains.

They then began treating their customers like thieves, putting intrusive copy protection schemes (including Sony's infamous rootkit) on their CDs alienating their customer base and using the RIAA to extort large sums of money for people as a way of threatening everyone who might think about downloading an mp3.

And while in the midst of doing that, the music industry also went after sites like Youtube which were featuring music videos, things that were designed for promotional purposes, and telling them to take them down. And let's not forget the effect of other legislation that their lobbyists helped get passed which all but destroyed internet radio and took a mighty swing at college radio as well, two forms of media which were aimed at a youth market and which played records which would otherwise have not gotten exposure in the mainstream media.

Then again, why would a record label need that kind of airplay, since they were dropping a lot of artists from their rosters who weren't selling enough albums, nor were they spending a lot of time developing a long term strategy with the artists they kept. Instead, they opted for a strategy which emphasized a hit single for an artist which they hoped would sell the album.

So as a consumer, why would you buy an album from these people who think so little of you (and let's be honest, so little of their artists given how much they get from both major label CD and iTunes sales) and treats you badly.

And let's be honest, I don't ever remember reading anything about how the 45 single was destroying the record industry either. If singles weren't a problem when they were on vinyl, than buying one on an online service should not pose a problem today.

But there was a second part to Bon Jovi's statement which I think needs to be mentioned (and frankly attacked), where he talks about "the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it."

So being an informed music consumer is a bad thing now? I mean, I thought the whole point was getting people to hear your music. I think the only time you'd want someone to buy something completely blind is if the quality isn't there. Yes, there are pleasant surprises, but in general, the less you want the people who may buy your work to know, the more likely they are to be disappointed by what they bought.

Because really, what are you trying to hide with that attitude?


Semaj said...

I'm not blowing smoke up your ass, but this post was brilliant. Once again proving you have some writing chops

I'll only remark that ITunes made it easier for people "not" to illegally download music. And, hasn't it always been the concert trail that has made money for the performer anyway?

Lee Sargent said...

Yeah Apple made it possible for a person sitting on the train going into work who suddenly have the urge to BUY a copy of Lay Your Hand On Me and listen to it immediately.

God! The monsters!!!

Lee Sargent said...

That should have read Lay Your Hands On Me btw.

I should have picked Blaze of Glory.

Lazarus Lupin said...

True the music industry killed itself and it deserved it. I can't believe artists are bitching about the death of an industry known for rigging the numbers, not paying what artists were truthfully owed and otherwise acting out like a coked out pimp.

Lazarus Lupin
art and review

MC said...

Semaj: One of the label arguments is, if an artist's music doesn't sell, then they can't support their tour.

Lee: Immediacy is one of the greatest perks of living in the internet age.

LL: Well, Bon Jovi made a lot of money under the old system, and he probably doesn't want to have to share his loot with artists who are better at exploiting the new media.