Negotiations between iTunes and the four major labels are looming, and there’s been a fair amount of talk about the majors’ desire to shift iTunes to a subscription model similar to Napster, Urge, and other also-ran music-selling sites. But yesterday, Jobs told a reporter that he was pretty lukewarm on the idea–and he even used the f-word while doing so:
“Never say never, but customers don’t seem to be interested in it,” Jobs told Reuters in an interview after Apple reported blow-out quarterly results. “The subscription model has failed so far.”
His comments come as the company he co-founded gears up for contract renewal negotiations with the major record labels over the next month.
Since Apple launched iTunes in 2003, it has sold more than 2.5 billion songs and now offers increasing numbers of television shows and movies.
Many in the music industry hope iTunes will ultimately start, in effect, renting music online, so record companies can make more money from recurring income. But Jobs said he had seen little consumer demand for that.
“People want to own their music,” he said.
Maybe Jobs doesn’t want to dredge up memories of the first dot-com bubble, but there’s something else that labels seem to be forgetting about in their banging on about subscription services: Few things last forever on the Internet. So the resistance to the subcsription model probably isn’t just rooted in the fact that people want to own their own music; they also want decide for themselves when they want to surrender it. (OK, they probably also want to carry around those cute iPod Nanos, instead of crippled players that claim to have access to “2 million songs” but really only allow users to hear a fraction of that. But still! That goes back to consumer choice, too, right?)
Jobs says Apple customers not into renting music [Reuters]
Earlier: Apple Requiring Labels To Deliver Content DRM-Free?
It’s Friday, April 27, and you know what that means: Coachella kicks off today, and thousands of musicians, fans, writers and bloggers will be gathering under the blazing California sun to revel in the shared of experience of getting kinda drowsy by 5 p.m. We won’t be going, partly because we weren’t deemed “legit” enough to warrant press passes (can’t say we disagree), and partly because we have a court order not to get with 100 feet of either Peter or Bjorn (John, though, is cool). However, we can’t wait to hear reports from all of our Idolator commenters, and we hope the VNV Nation debate continues to rage, only this time in person. As three-time attendees, allow us to provide the following tips:
- If you’re going to make your own acid, make sure you have the government-required ingredients label.
- Don’t loiter in the DJ area! Tiësto can get tiësty.
- Nic Harcourt loves it when you yell “NIC HARCOURT Y’ALL!” while dumping a bucket of Gatorade on his head.
- There are no “V”‘s or “I”‘s in the V.I.P. section, though the guy who played Randy Quaid’s son in Independence Day is always there.
- The White Stripes are not playing a secret show in the Gobi Tent, but Beck probably is.
- No matter how much he begs, and no matter how he pleads, don’t touch Leto.
Enter to win a copy of Favourite Worst Nightmare, brought to you by our friends Arctic Monkeys and Domino Records.
Details on how to win, plus our regular sponsor shout-outs, after the jump.
To enter, just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Arctic Monkeys Contest” before Tuesday, May 1. An e-mail will be picked at random to win. By e-mailing your entry, you agree to our Contest Rules.
And while we’re at it, many thanks to this week’s sponsors, who are cranking that Drew Barrymore track. If you’d like to join this motley crue, you can find more information here.
· American Apparel
· Arctic Monkeys
· Foot Locker
· IFC TV
· The Noisettes
· Patti Smith
- The history of Chicago punkers Screeching Weasel. [Can you see the sunset from the southside?]
- Three musical ladies who have gone M.I.A., but probably are nowhere near M.I.A.’s house: Claudette Ortiz, Christina Milian and Charli Baltimore.[Adam's World]
- A remix of CSS’ “Let’s Make Love” by the Shins remixer the RAC. [Good Weather For Airstrikes]
Those of you pumped up to see the Happy Mondays at Coachella on Sunday night are about to have your melons twisted–Bez, the band’s maraca-wielding mascot, has been barred from entering the U.S.:
A statement released by the band said: “Due to tightening immigration and working visa legislation, Bez was not, unfortunately, able to secure a visa to perform at Coachella this weekend.
“Happy Mondays apologise to all their US fans that they will not, on this occasion, be able to enjoy the spectacle of Bez shaking his stuff for them at Coachella.”
Terrible news, innit? Let’s hope this doesn’t result in Shaun Ryder becoming so despondent that he decides to only play songs from later-period Black Grape.
Bez refused entry to US for historic gig [Digital Spy]
Today’s Wall Street Journal examines how the “big box” retailers–i.e. Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and other places you only go to when in disguise–are faring in today’s increasingly iffy music-retail landscape. The stores are facing a number of problems nowadays, including an overall sales slump (of course) and increased pressure to remove albums with “offensive” lyrics and subject matter. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as powerful as ever:
In past decades, deejays and music critics helped shape musical trends. Today, many music industry executives agree, the big boxes have become the new tastemakers. Even as compact disc sales fall, their choices dictate which CDs are widely available on store shelves across the U.S. Big boxes are the industry’s biggest distribution channel — and the rock, hip-hop, jazz and classical music titles they choose not to carry face drastically reduced chances of reaching mass audiences.
Thanks largely to aggressive pricing and advertising, big-box chains are now responsible in the U.S. for at least 65% of music sales (including online and physical recordings), according to estimates by distribution executives, up from 20% a decade ago. Where a store that depends on CDs for the bulk of its sales needs a profit margin of around 30%, big chains get by making just 14% on music, say label executives who handle distribution. One of these executives describes the shift as “a tidal wave.” Despite the growth in online digital music sales, physical CDs still are the core of the recording industry, accounting for about 85% of music sales.
That sizable chunk of the market, though, only affects a relatively small amount of artists: According to the article, a typical Best Buy only stocks between 8,000 and 20,000 titles, while the biggest Tower Records location featured nearly 100,000 titles–not exactly good news for emerging acts on lower-profile labels. One thing the story doesn’t address: Why the heck does Costco still use long-boxes? Maybe more teenagers are shoplifting those Ray Charles and Time-Life Singer-Songwriter sets than we realized.
Can Music Survive Inside the Big Box? [WSJ]
According to our most recent reader survey, more than four percent of our readers attended college, meaning that a few of you are familiar with the end-of-the-school-year ritual known as the spring concert (or, as it’s more commonly know, Bongs-n-Songs). Usually, said concerts feature an impossibly diverse, committee-picked line-up, but IvyGate has detected a peculiar trend among some of this year’s line-ups:
We did a quick survey to see which schools booked which bands to perform at their spring concerts. The results are, frankly, stunning:
Brown – The Flaming Lips, Soulive, The Roots, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Misson of Burma, Yo La Tengo
Cornell – T.I., TV on the Radio
Columbia – Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Blackalicious
Dartmouth – Third Eye Blind
Harvard – Third Eye Blind
Penn – Ben Folds, Third Eye Blind
Princeton – Third Eye Blind
Yale – T.I., Sister Hazel
We won’t begrudge the charms of “Semi-Charmed Life,” but are there any college students out there who’d actually want to hear an entire circa-2007 3EB set? Or has the ’90s revival suddenly taken a new and more terrible direction?
Apparently Third Eye Blind Still Exists, Is Popular [IvyGate]
The Music Slut has an MP3 of the Killers covering “Shadowplay,” the classic 1979 Joy Division track. This version supposedly plays during the closing credits of the upcoming Anton Corbijn-directed Control, which is good, because if it came any earlier in the film, we’d probably walk out. Let’s just say that we spent a good ten minutes working on a “Please Brandon, Don’t Curtis” headline pun, until we realized it wasn’t worth the effort:
The Killers – Shadowplay [MP3, link expired]
- There’s been no shortage of hip-hop op-eds.
- Speaking of which, there will be no snitching from us regarding our newest columnist.
- Rihanna’s got legs, but does she know how to use them?
- American Idol makes strange bedfellows out of Elvis and Celine Dion.
- Drew Barrymore’s first proper singing attempt is no firestarter.
- Phil Spector’s hit list just keeps on coming.
- Avril Lavigne’s record label is a pain: Could we make it any more obvious?
- We should have known better than to turn a blind eye to the enduring college-rock clout of Stephan Jenkins.
- The next time Bjork sees Steve Jobs, she’s gonna have a few words with him. Words we won’t be able to quite make out, but still.
- Gwen Stefani: Just a girl with a grudge.
- Cartel’s publicity stunt: So far, it’s working pretty well.
Having been pulled aside for “special screening” at the airport twice recently, we immediately felt for ?uestlove, the Roots drummer/DJ/blogger/vlogger, when he mentioned that his boarding pass had been tagged with the dreaded “SSSS” that forces fliers into the line for a full-on frisking. But reading about his adventures with the Drug Enforcement Agency–who were alerted when airport screeners found that ?uestlove was carrying a large amount of cash that he’d made from a DJ gig–made us feel even worse, because by his account, their interrogations turned into something like a referendum on just how famous he was:
we are going to ask you once, please tell the truth: are you carrying any kind of drugs on your person?
so a grammy huh?
can you sing on of the songs you sing?”
(picks up the many magazines i have and picks XXL and hip hop weekly) “where are you in this magazine? huh? you said you were in a rap group. huh? how can a rapper not be in a rap magazine? is your rap different than regular rap? (pulls the rolling stone and spin out) are you in here then? im confused. you are in a rap group that play for 7000 students last night. you been out for 15 years. you say you have 3 grammies. you travel coach with all this money on your person. and you can’t produce your face in none of these books you have?”
Didn’t these guys have an Internet connection? Jeez. Anyway, this is a kind of scary precursor to an age where, in addition to their government-approved IDs, people have to tote around press clippings in order to prove who they are–which, oddly, seems to be perfect for this era. (And for the record, ?uestlove wound up making his plane with a minute or so to spare, and the flight attendant did that cute-but-jerky “let’s make an example of the late guy!” schtick.)
Blog 95: Father You See King The Police [THE ?uestosphere!!!!!!!!!!!, via The Clog]