Jon Bon Jovi is wrong.

Jon Bon Jovi thinks the music industry is dying, but that is not why he wrong, in fact he may be right.  What he is wrong about is his hypothesis that Steve Jobs is the reason. This opinion is not unique to the lead singer of Bon Jovi, it is held by other musicians of the ’80s and decades prior.  It seems as though the economy of the Single is the heart of the issue.  No one is buying complete Albums anymore, therefore record stores are going by the wayside and iTunes is cleaning up by selling Singles to anyone with $0.99, and they are moving A LOT of Singles.  But, iTunes is not the reason people are only buying Singles instead of Albums, Steve Jobs saw a market and pounced, iTunes is just the next evolution in music based on consumer demand.  If Jon Bon Jovi would like someone to blame, perhaps he should look to The Buggles, because they had a foresight that was either remarkably brilliant or eerily coincidental. On August 1st, 1981 history was made, MTV aired the worlds first Music Video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.  For the next 20 years MTV was where the youth in America discovered music and they were discovering it one Single at a time.  In the eras before MTV songs needed to climb the charts by merit, most quality music made it to the radio, while most bad music never did.  Once MTV hit the air waves, an otherwise mediocre song was able to buoy itself with the aid af a great, or unusual or provocative video.  No longer was musical talent the only requisite to becoming a successful musician, if you had anything, a look or a style, that was playable in three minute videos, you got played.  What that mentality gave birth to is the music industry we live in today.  Over produced, glamour models with minimal talent dominating the charts.  Bands like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, and Cream needed their considerable talents to write enough killer music to fill up an album so that when you got to the record store, spending your hard earned cash on an Album was easy because you knew it wasn’t going to be two singles and eight filler songs.  You were buying an experience.  MTV made that unnecessary.  A decent Single and great video was enough of an experience that it  generated enough exposure to bring in all cash needed to make everyone happy.  As that environment matured, the music industry changed, drastically.  It almost became a waste of longevity to put all of your great songs on one album.  Some artists continued to put out Great Albums, like U2 and even Bon Jovi and their albums sold, but the force of the Single was too hard for the record companies to resist.  They figured out how to manufacture stars, and subsequently, hit Singles  and the public ate it up.  This new system was perfect except for one thing, the public was not going to continue to pay for an album full of crappy music.  In steps Steve Jobs.  Steve Jobs did not create the current music environment, he did what he always does, sees a need and fills it.  Had Jobs not created the iPod, iTunes and the iTunes store the music industry would be currently be smashing its head against the wall trying to figure out why nobody is paying $16 for a full Album with one or two good songs or $3 for a mediocre Single.  Enter $0.99 and a click to buy and every thing changed.  Musicians now have the ability to easily release music on their own label with out being under the record company’s thumb, and sell their music directly to fans who can then carry it with them on a number of different devices so that they can enjoy it whenever and where ever they want.  A true revolution in music and how it is consumed.  Surely different, but it only works because of the general inability of the Recording Artist to string together a large enough number of hits to justify an Album purchase.  It seems to me that if there is ever going to be a shift back to way things were when Albums buying was near to a religious experience Recording Artists are going to have to start looking at each other and their respective artistic choices instead of Steve Jobs and his keen eye for business.  If these certain Recording Artists who long for the old days of music can not figure the steps needed to reel the music industry back to the way it was, they can always try phoning up the Buggles, they seem to know how to predict the future.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Jon Bon Jovi is wrong.

  1. Very interesting perspective.

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