Posted: March 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like. God, it was a magical, magical mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’ Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.

Jon Bon Jovi

OK, let me point-by-point this:

“A magical, magical time.” It was a magical time because you were a teenager discovering music, one of the two most amazing things in life. There are still teenagers; there’s still music.

“Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.” What S Jobs did was step in with a viable model when the music business was unable to come up with its own.

When Napster happened, in 1999, the record companies were right to be outraged; in 2003, when the iTunes store debuted, the record business was still trying to will itself back to 1997. Record company executives were at best unfamiliar, at worst ignorant about the internet itself. The companies were most proactive in their (extremely clumsy) attempts to protect their copyrights, not to revolutionize their business. Record company people who complained that revolutionizing their entire industry was daunting, maybe impossible, should’ve been aware—as capitalists—that they had a choice to adapt or perish.

The companies’ CEOs largely came into the record business in the 1970s. Were I the chairman of Time Warner or Seagram, and I wanted my investment to remain viable, I would’ve had to take the ruthless, but necessary, step of firing people with tremendous experience, seniority, and history, and replacing them with people aware of what was going down.

Now, the record companies still exist, but their executives’ jobs are vanishing. Those fired executives can’t find jobs at other companies, because those jobs don’t exist.

(A commentary about the J Bon Jovi statement on New York Magazine’s site said that S Jobs “…presented an online system that actually got artists paid.” Well, that’s no revolution: record companies do pay—if a band can recoup, which is usually impossible on a big label. My label ATO, which is a smaller company that couldn’t spend a whole lot of money, and thus didn’t spend much money to recoup in the first place, has paid me regularly.)

(I’m guessing that New York assumes, as many do, that it’s easy for an independent artist to get on iTunes. It is not, not, not. You still need a record company to get any kind of decent service from iTunes. I released an EP by the band the Panderers, and had to do it through IODA, an entity that exists because small-time artists can’t put their music on iTunes directly. And even IODA isn’t given much respect: a traditional distributor or larger label can choose a release date, but, with IODA, you have no idea when, exactly, your music will be released. You’re given a two month window in which your music MIGHT come out—could be later, could be sooner. That’s ridiculous.)

I’ve heard that Apple has fewer than 20 people working in their iTunes store department. No idea if this is true—but, given the bare-bones service, it makes sense.

“Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10” Dudeman. My friend. The iPod = nothing BUT headphones. Volume: still an existent scientific phenomenon.

“…holding the jacket…” OK, Jon, I concede: record album covers were awesome.

(And ps, who could de-stem-and-seed weed, or sniff drugs, off an iPhone?)

“…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.” Beauty? Dude, that SUCKED. Because YOU HAD NO IDEA WHAT THEY SOUNDED LIKE. Record stores didn’t have listening booths. Hence, you bought a lot of shitty records. A LOT.

“…in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’” Here’s one of the things that happened:

Do you remember hearing, “Why buy a whole CD when there’s only one good song on it” a lot? That was because MOST ALBUMS ONLY HAD ONE GOOD SONG ON IT. And CDs—cheaper to produce than vinyl LPs or cassettes—were nonetheless priced exorbitantly. Oh, and they phased out the single. You wanted the song, you overpaid for the whole shebang.

The companies didn’t produce quality product. When they heard a hit single, they put out an album, regardless of the quality of the rest of the song. Two examples:

Fastball, “The Way.” This, the single, was the only song on the album written and sung by the bass player. Did the company say, “Hey, sorry, guitar player, but the bass player’s better than you, go back to the woodshed so the bass player can write twelve more songs”? No.

Smashmouth, “Walking on the Sun.” Smashmouth were a punk/ska band. I guess they did this song as kind of a trifle, kind of a loungey-groovy sidebar—but it was the one sent to radio, and a huge hit. The record company didn’t send them back to the studio to make an album to match it.

(In fairness, Smashmouth moved on to embrace that sound on the next albums. But let me emphasize: ON THE NEXT ALBUMS.)

Guess what? People loved the songs when they saw the video, and they bought the CDs. LOADS of them. And most of them went back home, and were disappointed. Your consumer base learned a lesson: albums are almost always bad, even if the single is amazing. You guys taught them this.

Look, Jon: our industry lived by the sword. Sorry.

(via sweetlovehotcoffee)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s