It’s all about the endgame.
That’s what amateurs don’t understand about business. Jay Z doesn’t want to own and operate a streaming service, he just wants to leverage his fame to raise awareness and then lay the whole thing off on someone else.
I’m sick and tired of entertainment people thinking they can compete in the tech game, as if it’s only a game, one can learn by observing, that there’s no skill involved and no experience necessary.
Universal tried this at the turn of the century. They had their own ridiculous streaming service Pressplay and Jimmy and Doug’s Farm Club. As if tech were about show, and they could pull the wool over the eyes of the public the same way they refuse to pay artists royalties.
But that is not the case.
Yes, Jimmy Iovine ultimately regrouped and got Apple to buy Beats, a fallacious concept if there ever was one, Apple’s clueless when it comes to entertainment, why else would they approve the U2 cram-it-down-our-throats fiasco. But have you noticed Jimmy has failed at the second most important thing to him, after getting paid, keeping himself in the public eye?
Entertainment is about fame.
Tech is about changing the world. And becoming super-rich.
And how do you get super-rich? Via scale. Coming up with something that EVERYBODY uses!
That’s what the music business is lacking. The music business is now balkanized. Most people don’t listen to the same hits and this is a bad thing. It’d be like having dozens of operating systems in the smartphone sphere. When a company lends coherence to the scene, that’s when scale occurs and profits rain down. Instead, radio is running off into the ditch and everybody’s rallying around what once was, protecting their fiefdom, while Spotify scales and ultimately ends up with all the profits. Isn’t this why everybody now hates Tim Westergren? He lobbied users to contact the government to lower internet streaming radio royalty rates, then he took Pandora public and became a zillionaire and built a mansion.
That was Tim’s plan all along. People were just too stupid to see it.
And Jay Z is street smart. But to think he can compete with those who do this for a living is ridiculous. Sure, he made an impact in clothing, a wide open sphere, but what about champagne?
And what Jay Z doesn’t seem to realize is there’s only one winner in tech. One Apple, one Google and one Amazon. Hell, this last quarter Apple put a dent in Samsung. And now Jay Z thinks he can compete with Apple?
But Jay Z wants the money. Everybody in Hollywood wants the money. Disney, WME, CAA, DreamWorks, they used to be kings of the hill, now they’re also-rans in the money sweepstakes, which is what they really care about, art is a cover. So they’ve all got incubators and investments and it’s as laughable as sports stars becoming rocket scientists. Sure, it’s possible. But how many are going to do the work? And talk to Fred Wilson, investing is not something you learn in a week. But the press lauds the skills of Ashton Kutcher because he’s sexier than anybody who works at Kleiner Perkins, but they’re the ones who know, and are much richer.
Jay Z is paying a huge premium. Aspiro has a business, but it only pays to pay this much if you can scale it.
But Jay Z can’t.
I’m not saying that Spotify’s victory in the sphere is guaranteed, although it looks that way. But Deezer has traction, Apple is yet to put its toe in, and can leverage its handset business, and Rdio and Rhapsody want some of that juice.
And now Jay Z?
It’s a winner-take-all world. To think otherwise is to believe that Bing can compete with Google on search, but the truth is Microsoft has lost billions on Bing.
People only need one search engine. With everything just a click away online, people gravitate to the best. To displace someone atop the heap you’ve got to leapfrog them in technology, like Facebook did with MySpace, or deliver something heretofore unseen, as Google did with its search predecessors, with accurate results. What does Aspiro offer? CD quality streams. Which Deezer does too. And there’s absolutely no barrier to entry for Spotify and the other players, they can add high quality with the flick of a switch.
But Jay Z believes he can leverage talent, which I doubt, Spotify exists quite well without the Beatles, and they’ve locked up Led Zeppelin, and get the hip-hop wannabes to subscribe.
But then he’ll try to get Michael Rapino to buy it.
But Live Nation just dismantled its Labs, which were the remnants of BigChampagne. Too many Live Nation acquisitions have failed.
And maybe Jay Z can find a customer in Rhapsody or Rdio, which will pay him to use his profile, since they have none.
But really, this is a sideshow.
A sad one at that.
One in which business trumps music. That’s all we’re getting from Jay Z recently. The Samsung/NBA/app album launch now this… How about one track that changes the culture?
But those in entertainment no longer care about cultural power. They’re just into it for the money. And they see what the Silicon Valley titans have and tell themselves they want some of that.
That’s right, once upon a time musicians were about changing hearts and minds, influencing millions.
Now they just want those millions to hand over cash, so they can get richer, fly private to Davos, be a big mover and shaker.
You become a big mover and shaker by writing a song that speaks truth that changes the world. Don’t try to be something you are not.
A business MAN?
How about being an ARTIST!