Bon Jovi recently complained that Steve Jobs – the founder of Apple – killed the music industry.
He reminisces about a magical time when someone would go to the record store and buy an album without knowing what any of the songs were, among other things. Here is the exact quote:
“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, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it.”
I’m not really sure what his primary complaint is here, or even how it relates to Steve Jobs and Apple. So he’s upset that we can buy songs individually on iTunes for .99 cents instead of being forced to purchase an entire album?
Is he angry that we’re not physically holding the CD case and looking at the artwork while we listen to the songs?
That’s we’re not closing our eyes and ‘imagining’ stuff as we listen?
Shot to the heart, and you’re to blame! You give logic a bad name!
Whatever his complaints are – and I’m not sure I understand any of them – Bon Jovi doesn’t seem to understand how the music industry works in 2011.
He can’t possibly be complaining about the lack of incoming revenue – especially when he looks at his own bank account. In 2010, Bon Jovi was the top-earning concert tour in the world. His act earned $201.1 million dollars in 2010.
So why the whining?
Clearly things have changed since the time when straight men wore leather vests with no shirts underneath, and permed mullets were socially acceptable. But he must be angry about something…
So if Apple ‘killed’ the music industry, who are the big losers?
The bottom-feeders. If anyone is taking a hit, it’s the music industry’s big producers. And that’s for one reason and one reason only: they’re interchangeable middle-men.
Without the need to promote and distribute physical CDs, why are they even necessary?
If you’re an artist, why create CDs at all? Digital downloads are still making plenty of money for their creators: Apple recently celebrated their 10 BILLIONTH (that’s not a typo) download. So there is definitely enough money to go around, and people willing to pay for your songs.
Want to promote a concert? You don’t need a music producer for that. You can use blogs and social media to promote yourself, free of charge.
Want to sell merchandise? You can have virtually anything created with your logo on it, and sell it on the web or at live events.
So it looks like the only big losers are the multi-millionaires who feed off the artists and take a big slice of the profits.
So who is winning? (not in the Charlie Sheen sense…but ACTUALLY winning)
The consumers. We get more of what we want for less money. We can buy individual songs or whole albums, and preview the songs in advance. And while we’re doing it, we know that a large percentage of every dollar is going into the pocket of the artist, and not a greedy middle-man.
And everyone else benefits from our discovery. If we like what we hear we can tell 10, 100, or 1,000 like-minded friends almost instantly.
The artists. Higher profit margins, more options, and the chance to have their music heard online by millions of people around the world.
So are publishers interchangeable middle-men as well?
For the most part, yes, but they’re currently handling the change in technology better than the music industry did. The Nook, Kobo, Kindle and iPad are offering easy and affordable platforms to download books for a very reasonable price.
But what’s even better are the benefits for the independent writers.
Anyone can put their book on these platforms and set their own pricing – as low as .99 cents – making their work accessible to a growing audience of tens of millions of people. And best of all they can enter the market it in an affordable way that can compete with any established publisher.
This technology is what the Internet can – and should – be doing for businesses all the time: leveling the playing field. No politics or jockeying for position when it comes to shelf space. No multi-million dollar ad campaigns. Just the best work going viral, and the artists enjoying the rewards.
Take Amanda Hocking, who became a millionaire within a year, selling only independently published books on digital platforms. No publisher, no middle-men.
And with the current system in place, there will be many more success stories like this in the future.
The future looks bright (even if Bon Jovi doesn’t think so).
Artists will always make money because we – the consumers – love art.
We want music and movies and books that we connect with on a personal level, and we don’t care who the middle-man is (or if one even exists at all).
The music industry had a chance back in the infancy of Napster to facilitate that connection, but they blew their chance. Now things have changed and they’re never changing back. Book publishers are doing a much better job (so far) but that may change as well.
In the end, the music ‘industry’ (the factory that cranks out physical CDs) WILL die. That’s inevitable. But music itself is impossible to kill because people will always be around to create it. Times change, technology shifts, and the way we enjoy, purchase and share art is always a moving target – but the existence of the art, much like Bon Jovi’s haircut, will never change.
PHEW! That was exhasiting…if I could keep my rants to under 1,000 words I’d probably crank out more of these. THANK YOU for reading, and I hope you drop me a comment below. I’ll be back sooner than later…
I love you guys,
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