In case you haven’t heard by now, according to Jon Bon Jovi, Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple and creator of iTunes) is the reason why music is dying. In an interview published by the Sunday Times Magazine, the rocker is quoted as having said the following about Jobs and his iTunes downloading model—which allows patrons to pick and choose the music they want from an artist’s album for between $0.99 and $1.29 per track—he’s “killing the music business”.
Not for nothing, Jon—and, might I add, I was a big Bon Jovi fan back in the day—but music has done a fine job of killing itself without any help from Mr. Jobs or iTunes. As a matter of fact, I would contend that if not for services like iTunes, I might never buy any music at all.
Why? Well, that’s easy, because most of it is overpriced, poorly produced, crap.
Who on earth wants to spend better than $10 on a CD that will have, at best, three to four songs worth listening to? How is that a good return on one’s investment?
And, piggybacking on that last thought, here’s the quote by Bon Jovi that really got me going:
“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 [emphasis added], and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it,”
See that right there is the root of the problem. Back then you could count on the quality of an album based on the artist hawking the product. You knew that if you spent your hard earned money on an artist like Pearl Jam, Guns N’ Roses (before Axl went crazy), Babyface, TLC, or Coldplay, you were getting quality music. Their reputation and product made them a must-get from the time they released an album.
You can’t make that mistake nowadays because most of the acts you hear on the radio won’t be around long enough for you to care about their reputation. As a matter of fact, most of them are built only for that one big hit and the rest of what they give you will be fluff or worse.
The good bands, artists, etc. will always have people willing to buy their music because they pay attention to the quality of their work. Can the same be said for artists like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, or P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, or whatever the heck his name is nowadays?
I don’t think so.
Thank goodness iTunes gives me options—as a consumer—because that has saved me from both an empty wallet and that feeling of regret. These days it’s a lot less about the experience of making a decision “based on the jacket” than it is about making an informed choice about who’s worthy of your hard-earned money.
The bottom line is this: if you’re making good music, people will buy the album—period.
All this talk of Bon Jovi has me feeling nostalgic. So, just for old times sake, here’s one of my personal favorites from his younger days:
Ahhhh, the memories. I forgot just how big a crush I had on Richie Sambora. He was definitely a doll.