The decade delta

iTunes is 5 years old this week. The seb internet turned 15 yesterday. The decade delta between those dates is the generous amount of time the music industry had to save itself from the fate that overcame it … and didn’t. In these five years, iTunes has sold more than 4 billion songs. Think of how many songs the music industry could have sold us if only they’d gone with the flow of new opportunities and given us the chance instead of persecuting us and resisting reality while trying to preserve outdated business models based on outmoded technology. Every industry knows how the music guys blew it; it is now an article of faith in any conversation about the internet and innovation. The presumption is that they didn’t act fast enough, that the internet came barreling down on them. No, in retrospect, they had plenty of time to learn and experiment and find new opportunities to get music to us in new ways. A decade. They’re worse idiots than I thought.

  • Roger C. Hoover

    The internet turned 15 yesterday? Not even close…

  • Eric Jaffa

    I guess he means the “world wide web” is about 15 years old, rather than the internet.

  • oops. yes, hardly synonymous! thanks!

  • adam

    here, here. There’s no better example of an old-school, backwards thinking, self defeating mentality than the music business. How many opportunities have they had to innovate, to experiment, to attempt to do ANYTHING. Instead, they’ve relied completely on throwing around lawsuits – often with frightening carelessness – to preserve an outdated model.

    But, my question is… what will be the tipping point? What will finally kill the old music media business or force them to make a revolutionary change? is the legal system the problem by allowing this all to take place like this? I don’t know the answers or the solution, but man, there’s sure a lot of need for smart people to think differently and be allowed to do it…

  • pdh

    “There’s no better example of an old-school, backwards thinking, self defeating mentality than the music business”

    The corporate media business (newspapers and television broadcasters) have given them a good run, though.

  • I’m not sure I’m following how you are characterizing the iTunes Music Store’s relationship with the music industry. It sounds like you’re trying to say that iTunes was a threat to the music industry.

    If so, you’d be dead wrong. iTunes is one of the saviors of the business. It created a solid business model to compete against free downloads and minimizing the impact of DRM on the average honest users.

    iTunes has become such a dominant figure in the music biz, that the industry has felt it necessary to prop up a competitor to iTunes. Specifically the Amazon mp3 service which has higher quality downloads at a lower price with no DRM!

    The music business is being saved, but only through the actions of outsiders; Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs, specifically.

    Now if only the RIAA lawyer-goons can be reigned in…

  • South Orange Guy

    I think “idiots” may be a bit strong. I actually think that given that it’s been so long, and NO ONE has figured out a way to build a billion $+ business off of digital music (iTunes is a consumer electronics ecosystem), shows how pure play music content businesses are in real trouble.

    The business of investing in talent and marketing/distributing output is increasingly challenged. Increasingly this business seems to be about performance (live, and royalties paid to PRO’s by radio and TV co’s) and publishing, less about selling packaged goods (cd’s or units of music).

  • South Orange Guy

    just to clarify a bit….if you assume that over the long term, markets are efficient, it is quite telling that NEITHER music incumbents NOR NEW ENTRANTS have cracked the code of digital music…..yet

  • No one has “cracked the code?”

    I take it 4 billion sold doesn’t qualify for that status? What level does?

    I think Apple has been successful in digital downloads and will continue to build on that.

  • José Luis

    While i’m related to the banking/finance industries, i’ve come to think that this general “irrelevant”, “outdated business model”, “poor content” and general “lack of vision” is a problem that affects *NOT* only the music industry (or news papers or banking).

    I don’t think is too far fetched to think that this is a general issue that every “pre-early XX century” organization is facing.

    The same problem can be said of most political parties around the world (i live in Argentina) and also, the same can be said about most religious organizations.