So many song titles to riff off of, it’s hard to know where to start. Well, here goes. Not only does rocker Jon Bon Jovi give love a bad name, he’s now taken to trashing iTunes and Steve Jobs as well.
The Bon Jovi front man recently lamented the changing landscape of the music buying experience 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 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.
And to a certain extent, he’s right. There was something to the experience of rummaging through record stores, leaving with something tangible in your hand, and rushing home to pop in your newly purchased album while devouring the liner notes and getting lost in the music. With no way to really preview an album in its entirety at the time, consumers were often familiar with only one or two songs, something which made listening to a new album an adventure of sorts, each new song a potential new favorite.
So yes, that particular experience of getting lost in an album may be a vestige of the past, but the digitization of music with the advent of the iTunes Music Store brings with it a number of new experiences that in the long run supercede idealistic memories of connecting wtih a band and discovering new songs the old fashioned way.
While driving to a record store and clumsily browsing through CD racks may seem fun in a nostalgic sense, the ability to download almost any song on a whim at any time and from any place – at home and even via a smartphone – has undeniably made music acquisition infinitely more convenient. The iTunes Music Store, coupled with the web at large, gives music lovers a chance to read user reviews and preview songs before deciding whether or not something is worth purchasing. More informed consumers equates to happier consumers which ultimately results in consumers more likely to spend money on music in the future. Anyone who bought music in the pre-digital age can relate to feeling ripped off upon discovering that the $18 CD you bought only has 1 decent song.
But Jon Bon Jovi isn’t convinced.
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.
On the contrary, you can argue that Steve Jobs and Apple actually saved the music business by providing users with an easy and legal way to download music. While the wild west days of illegal music sharing have come and gone, it really wasn’t all that long ago when kids were stockpiling hundreds, if not thousands, of illegally downloaded songs onto their computers. Indeed, iTunes spot as the top music retailer in the US is a testament to the idea that users are willing to pay for content provided its affordable and an easy process.
Suffice it to say, Bon Jovi does sound like an old man, and while he mourns the death of a particular type of consumer shopping experience, he’s been on the other side of that equation for so long that he probably doesn’t remember what it’s like to be a regular ole’ music lover. He’s an artist, a bona fide superstar who’s so deeply entrenched on the artist side of the equation that he can’t appreciate the net positives ushered in by the digitization of music from the vantage point of a consumer. Indeed, note that Bon Jovi references the music business.
A generation from now, only music snobs will be looking back and asking “What happened?” On the contrary, most everyone else will be asking “Can you believe that you used to have to get in a car to buy music?!”
Also, it’s worth noting, if it’s not already abundantly obvious, that some lost experiences, though positive they might have been, are often supplanted by even better ones. As an example, there was an element of fun in the pre-iPod days to showing off your music collection and poring over a large selection of CDs and figuring out which ones were worthy enough to accompany you on whatever journey you were embarking on. But that dynamic was supplanted with a new experience where you can now carry thousands upon thousands of songs on a small little portable device. Who cares about the fun derived from plucking a few key records from an album collection when we now have the ability to bring our entire album collection along for the ride.
And speaking of albums, and though some music snobs might talk your ear off about an entire album being a piece of art meant to be consumed in its entirety, it’s exceedingly delightful that we’re now able to purchase individual songs for $1.29 (at the most) when CD singles used to sell for as much as $4.
Given the portability of music, the convenience of purchasing music online, the advent of services like Pandora, and even the ability to purchase music subscriptions from sites like Rhapsody, it’s hard to argue that there’s ever been a better time in history to be a music lover. Music lovers today have unparalleled access to music from all around the world and can purchase it at prices that are quite shocking if you think about it.
Jon Bon Jovi, not surprisingly, isn’t the only artist quick to appear laughably behind the times. John Mellencamp this Summer said that the Internet was the most dangerous thing invented since the atomic bomb and that it was responsible for destroying the music business.
At the time we wrote,
How can you not argue that breaking down the draconian walls of the recording industry isn’t a good thing? Artists today have a lot more control over their careers, and they’re no longer subject to the tastes and whims of cranky old white men in suits. How is that a bad thing? Independent artists who, in the past, would have been ignored can now have their music heard by the masses. The level of music accessibility these days is nothing short of astounding.
Sorry Jon, you’ve just been served some Bad Medicine while being shot down in a Blaze of Glory.