Steve Jobs - Thoughts on Music (updated for EMI news)

Posted by avatarOmar last updated February 8, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Reading the blog post Amanie pointed out, and the corresponding blogs that were pointed to from there a lot of interesting points were made. I think the biggest sentiments from the cynical crowd is that this is a brilliant PR move, but one that ultimately required no real gusto, since Apple is already in such a formidable position. Furthermore, these are just words, iTunes is still selling DRM-riddled music and Apple is making a ton of money off of those sales.

One of the interesting points that was brought up in one of the blogs is that iTunes isn't even about making that much money, it's all about legitimizing the iPod which is the real cash cow for Apple. If you're at all familiar with how Napster went down, and the resulting aftermath, you'll see it's all about intended use.

Quick legal aside: the argument support Napster was that it was just a service to exchange information and shouldn't be shut down based on how people used it, similar to having a photocopier in a library and having people photocopy books. The library shouldn't be punished for that. However, the judge ruled against Napster based on intent of use. Instead of just having the just photocopier there, it's having a huge sign on top of the photocopier saying "FREE BOOKS! USE THIS!"  This is why you see disclaimers against uploading copyrighted content on every User generated site, though most user generated sites contain large amounts of copyrighted content!

If the iPod existed without iTunes, then music companies would say "hey, this is only used for illegal purposes. Sorry bud, DENIED!" But Jobs struck a deal for iTunes that was actually very good for the record companies, so now Apple can just say "no no, it's iPod PLUS iTunes, it's totally legit"

Thus far, DRM hasn't been a big deal. Most people who download their music download it from bittorrent or other such services anyway. The real problem occurs when you want to go legit, and you quickly realize that DRM music sucks huge huge monkey balls. When I want to support an artist I'll buy the music from AllofMp3, or if they don't have it I'll go to iTunes, and then I'll just download a pirated copy of the music that I can do what I want with. Usually at a better bitrate and quality too.

Everybody already agrees with anti-DRM for a million different reasons. And if DRM is doing anything, it's just encouraging people to forget about digital media, or go through iillegit means and not deal with all the stupid hassle. However, with VIDEO, the situation is becoming a lot more annoying for consumers. DRM technology is complicated and expensive, to design and implement. All these expenses are adding up, and the costs are being passed down to us. In effect, all DRM is doing, is making the media we want to consume, more annoying, and more expensive.

That's a good way to lose your customers. Media company's fears are just going to be their ultimate undoing ironically enough.

Now should all music be free? Of course not. If you want to SELL music, then you should pay the person that originally made the music. I don't think anybody has problems with that. But if I want to share some music with a few of my friends, or stream music to various devices in my house, I should have absolutely no problems doing that.

Media companies have constructed an institution whereby a small number of people get ridiculously rich. It's obvious that there's a middle ground that'll make everybody people happy if a certain group of people just give up some of their greediness. Not even all of their greediness. I'm all for people making money. But if you can make 5 million off of an album instead of 15 million, is that really that sad? And if that 10 million can then spread around to other artists that can then earn a living, whereas in the current situation they can't, then that's even better!

This direction is the way the world is going anyway, no matter what the media companies try to do. As has been said many times. The media companies can evolve and adapt to the changing marketplace, or like any organism that can't adapt, they'll die. It's not like these guys have been around for a long time either, the industry is only a hundred years old or so, so it's not like the world can't function without them.