Together and with The Power of We, we can start a revolution. One Soul at a time... ~Jon Bon Jovi *** There's a Story on every street corner, my friend. All you have to do is open your eyes... ~Richie Sambora

Who Killed the Music Business?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

For the last few days my inbox has been inundated with alerts about this damn quote from HRH... "Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business." 

Can I tell you just how tired I am of this? 

Here's an article from Billboard, backing Jon up on this.  Now maybe the alerts with this ridiculous statement will leave me alone.


Jon Bon Jovi has drawn the ire of technologists, the tech media and Apple customers around the world -- all for giving a nostalgic opinion in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine.

"Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the [album] 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," he says. "God, it was a magical, magical time.

 "I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am," he continues. "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."

The online reaction has been harsh and swift. Complacency is Bon Jovi's enemy. Steve Jobs didn't found Napster Albums are filled with junk. Jon Bon Jovi has done more to kill music than Steve Jobs.

Actually, Bon Jovi's comments come a bit late -- people have been saying Steve Jobs killed the record industry since the iTunes Music Store debuted in 2003. And so what if some people think Bon Jovi is a bit of a Luddite? And so what if his prediction doesn't come true? Realistically, 20 years from now, people will probably envy LP-era consumers about as much as LP-era consumers envied consumers of piano rolls in the 1910s. But the guy is entitled to his opinion.

The truth is, Bon Jovi is hardly alone in his thinking. There has been little to no public backlash against Jack White's Third Man Records and its dedicated, dogged mission of keeping vinyl, record stores and record collecting alive. And while we haven't unearthed any quotes with Jack White saying Steve Jobs killed the music industry, he has railed against the digital age many times: "If not for the Internet, we would have loved to have done  six months of small clubs down south to really build up what we are and discover what we are, but because of the way it is, we have to have  a trial by fire and jump right in, guns a blazing," he told The Ampersand about his group the Dead Weather in 2009. And just last week, he said to Minnesota Public Radio's Mary Lucia:  "Kids would come to shows and we would be selling a vinyl record at the merch table and people would pick 'em up and ask what they were, and it was the saddest thing to all the musicians. We all thought 'that's just terrible' and then we would hear these statistics that 97 percent of high school kids have never gone to a stand-alone record store in their lives. It's just very sad."

Not even the efforts of Kid Rock and AC/DC to sell complete albums instead of individual tracks -- in effect, statements against the iTunes model -- have generated as much negative reaction as Bon Jovi's statement about Jobs. (Note that Bon Jovi does sell individual tracks at iTunes.) And contrary to what some tech bloggers have written, Bon Jovi doesn't have to be terribly concerned about the revenue he receives from record sales -- even though his sales last year were very healthy (786,000 albums, of which more than 100,000 were digital, and more than 2 million digital tracks). He and his band made most of their money from touring, and ticket sales -- far more than album sales -- put his band at No. 2 on Billboard's 2011 Moneymakers list.

Really, can't we all get along? Digital music is great for music fans and consumers: There's more choice, more information, more (and easier) discovery and fewer dollars spent -- and you can't beat the instant gratification. And Jon, if you're looking for great records with amazing packaging, head down to White's Third Man Record Store in Nashville, or check out Third Man's Rolling Record Store at South by Southwest this week. Or even order vinyl online!

What's gotten obscured in Bon Jovi's sepia-toned reminiscing about the vinyl age is this point: That the Internet has not been good to the business model of music, which, yes, includes money-grubbing capitalists but also includes artists themselves trying to make a living, not to mention the lost art of artist development, when musicians were given the time and budgets to develop (indeed, Bon Jovi himself didn't become a star until his third album). Like many other artists, he may be concerned that record labels, the vehicle that drives most artist development, have not found a workable business model to replace the old one. And he may be looking at the results -- like the 360 deal -- and thinking that artists in his day had it better.

There, Bon Jovi actually has some evidence to back up his opinion.

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I am and always have been a Bon Jovi fan. This blog is just my obsession taken a step further, my imagination in high gear if you will. I love to read and decided to see what would happen when I took that love of the written word and ramped it up a bit.

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