In last week's Sunday Times (link paywalled) Jon Bon Jovi had a 'J'accuse' moment:
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...
A decade spanning multi-million selling artist has some insight into the modern history of the challenges that music retail has faced. The advent of the cassette, the recordable cassette, the compact disc, the recordable compact disc, the digital era, mp3, PC hard drives, personal music players (from the Walkman to the iPod). There's also been this thing we know as the internet, and with it p2p services from Napster to BitTorrent. Jon, like most of us remembers that all of this happened before the iTunes music store opened in 2003. Jon doesn't think it matters. It's all Steve's fault.
Some of us may come to the logical conclusion that it is the internet that is driving the future of the entertainment industry, not to mention broadcast and 'print' media. Some commentators may even suggest that the iTunes Music Store has offered the music industry a temporary stay of execution, giving it an opportunity to adapt this changing environment and consumers attitudes towards 'ownership'. A time to develop viable methods of a la carte / subscription services and re-writing traditional contracts with artists over revenue splits, royalties and advances. Some of us may conclude that, to date, the industry has done precious little to adapt, has worked against the interest of tech companies (including Apple) and by consequence their mutual consumers, and it's future thinking is still clouded by old business models (if the reported revenue sharing on services like Spotify is anything to go by).
Jon thinks all these factors are irrelevant. His attack on the Jobsian Shop of Horrors stems from nostalgia:
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.
God, it was a magical, magical time.
Gambling away limited disposal income on what might turn out to be two good songs and eight duffers. Paying for a product without knowing what it contained, particularly from an artist you weren't sure if you liked that much. Yes that was so much fun. "Magical", even. We'd still be doing that today if it hadn't been for Steve Jobs. Of course.
It seems that Bon Jovi was just attacking the concept of the digital download, but in the event that his concentration on Jobs the person may be a critique on all things Apple, Jeremy Horwitz of fanboi repository iLounge has written a MacPadPodPhone themed response in a delightfully passionate "Open Letter to Jon Bon Jovi on "What's Really Killing The Music Business":
Speaking just for myself, the next Bon Jovi concert I’ll consider attending now will be one with a completely different set list of tracks that I like as much as the ones you released 20 years ago. All you have to do is start recording them, and I promise that my wife or I will purchase them. So will the rest of your fans.
Perhaps that's Bon Jovi's biggest gripe. He can't make more than a dollar from someone who just wants to buy 'Living On A Prayer' anymore. Here's the video. Think of it like an advert. I hope it helps, Jon, although you may not need it. No-one may want your new stuff, but you seem to be doing ok.