Mick Jagger vs. Jay-Z

"I don’t know anyone who listens to CDs in order anymore."

Mick Jagger

"Wall Street Journal" – Thursday, November 15, 2007

What I find funny is fans.

On one hand, thank god Radiohead and Jay-Z have them, that’s what keeps them in business. But, if you cross their favorite, if you say anything negative about the act they adore, they inundate you with e-mail excoriating you for your ignorance.

Jay-Z left money on the table. If people didn’t want files instead of CDs, we wouldn’t be in this pickle to begin with. But the reason Jay-Z didn’t sell his music on iTunes is because Universal, his parent company, is at war with Apple. Unfortunately, it’s Jay-Z’s who’s taking the hit.

Why didn’t he act like Tom Petty back in the seventies, refusing to be the first on MCA to sell his record for a buck more? Willing to go into bankruptcy to avoid this fate?

As head of a label, you’d think Jay-Z would take the long view. See that buying complete albums is a thing of the past. Figure out how to make it in the new world. I mean when even Edgar Bronfman, Jr. wakes up to the new reality, it makes Jay-Z look like he’s living back in the nineties.

So you love albums. More power to you. I don’t want to tell you how to listen to your music.

But those days are through. The future is a steady stream of product. The key is to keep your fan base happy, keep the relationship up, so you can sell a steady stream of…not only music, but concert tickets and merch. Who’d want to marry a person who you only dated once every three years? Even if the date was a week long. Even a month!

There were no albums before 33 1/3 RPM records. The medium begat the art form. New art forms are going to emerge as a result of the Internet era. Why be so close-minded. Maybe Jay-Z can release his next album as a serial! With a new track every week. Driving us to iTunes, where we might buy even more IDJ music.

And, there’s no abolition on buying complete albums at iTunes. Make something good enough, and people will pop for it.

But to leave them out of the loop, to make them buy it your way or the highway. Shit, what did that hamburger chain say? Have it your way?

If only Jay-Z and the record labels paid attention…

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