The last decade has been one of the fastest declines any industry has every witnessed. This industry was the recorded music business. You may ask why has it been so? There is no single reason, however notable reasons for such a fiasco include; the fact the industry is not actually sexy despite appearances, but is instead one of the most backwards and reactionary industries in the world. No other industry in the world has decided to sue its own customers.
Going further the spectacle of former Universal Music Group global Chairman and CEO Doug Morris taking over the reins at Sony Music speaks volumes for the quite frankly brainless re-arrangement of the executive deck chairs ever witnessed in the history of the recorded music business. In TMV’s view this decision locked in place by Howard Stringer is quite frankly reprehensible. We would even go, as far to state perhaps the Sony Corp board should look at sending Stringer to a deserted Island for the rest of his life…
However, probably the most stupid move, which all executives across the major label groups have to take FULL responsibility for – is allowing iTunes to become a global monopoly. Instead of embracing the MP3 format in the early 2000’s the industry decided it was better to allow one company to dictate price point and delivery method to the recorded music businesses customers. Talk about stupidity! Now we can debate the choices they had available then and now. But the key fact is that the music industry for all intensive purposes rolled over and became the slaves of Steve Jobs aka Apple/iTunes.
I hear some of you naysayers denying the blatantly obvious? Your defence, what about the other digital music services in the market? Well as the recently published AIM report states 94% of global recorded music sales/revenue comes from three services whilst over 500 more fight for the 6% of scraps left. Of that 94% figure a total of 70% of ALL digital music sales come via iTunes. And yes whilst there are plenty of digital retailers, how many will be around in a year little own 5 years time is questionable. Who should take responsibility for this? The major labels! And why? Because they have always ensured their licensing terms are un-workable quite often because they have been pressured by Apple/iTunes into ensuring Apple’s dominance.
TMV have it from very high level sources that previous UMG global Chairman and CEO, Doug Morris was told by Steve Jobs that he would pull UMG content from iTunes if UMG licensed European streaming service Spotify for an American launch. We’ve heard further that this same lack of caljones has carried over onto new global UMG Chairman and CEO Lucien Grainge.
Sources have informed TMV that an agreed deal between Spotify and UMG for the US launch of the service has been sitting on Lucian’s desk since mid January 2011. Wayne Rosso’s story breaking Apple’s intention to launch its music locker service in April no doubt has some bearing on this. TMV request that the US authorities immediately launch a federal competition enquiry, as if such actions are indeed occurring than it is time to stop this anti competition collusion between labels and iTunes. It has previously been proven that Apple has not had a problem threatening labels and having their music promoted on Amazon deals of the day (TMV have email evidence provided by a label). Such collusion is bad for the labels, artists and music consumers.
On a positive note TMV congratulates Amazon for releasing their music locker service ahead of iTunes and doing it without the need for licenses from the labels makes it all the more salient. This will hopefully set the precedent that licenses are not required to store your music online as a music consumer. We hope Google follows suit and by taking such unilateral action circumvents the addiction to iTunes that all labels currently suffer. It is sad but the recorded music industry needs some tuff love, and this way new and truly innovative services can emerge that will help to create a more level playing field.