I'm in the middle of an unannounced two week break from the blog (as I finish getting over the nastiest cold I've ever had and apply to some more jobs). I wasn't going to post again until next week but I came across something that I felt compelled to post about.
Yesterday, I randomly saw a tweet that contained a quote from Jon Bon Jovi: "Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business."Intrigued, I searched the quote and came across an article from the Huffington Post in which Bon Jovi explained how he thinks the Apple founder has killed music:
"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…God, it was a magical, magical time. I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you 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."
So if I understand him correctly, the music business is dying because newer fans aren't holding a physical album in their hands while they listen. And I think that's the dumbest thing I've heard in the digital music debate. Music isn't dying, fan reaction to it is changing. It's similar to complaining that people want individual songs more than albums lately (which is itself something I want to touch on in a future post).
First of all, not everyone needs the physical product. I appreciate the music, not the format it comes in. I enjoy a song the same wether I'm listening to it on a record player, through my car's stereo or through my iPod headphones. And I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Not many people from my generation even own a record player unless they're vinyl collectors.
Second, not all music is digital. There are a handful of digital-only record labels, but they're still considered oddities. CDs are still being pressed in massive numbers and physical music stores still exist. Even if Bon Jovi wants to complain about CDs replacing vinyls, vinyl is still being made. There are whole companies (Vinyl Collective, for example) dedicated to pressing vinyl versions of albums (in fact, I almost bought the new Red City Radio album in vinyl format just a few weeks ago). And used record stores still continue to do large amounts of business.
Third, how is Steve Jobs to blame? Sure, iTunes is the number 1 retailer of digital music. But that only started in 2003, less than a decade ago. MP3, arguably the most well-known format of digital music, has been around since 1993. Digital music in general as we typically think of it has been around since the 1980s. If you're gonna blame digital music for killing the music industry, you should be blaming the creators of MP3, or Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker. Not to mention that it's all about consumer preference. If digital music didn't sell, CDs would still be the dominant form. So really, Bon Jovi is blaming his fans, the people he depends on for his money. Nice move, Jon.
The way I see it, by blaming digital music for the death of the music industry, Bon Jovi is no better than a label exec driving his company into the ground because he refuses to change.