Friday, February 9, 2007

I faith-healed a guy last night

This is not something I do very often. And I never do it when anyone else is around. Not that I’m ashamed or anything but it just involves a lot of explaining and then you have to swear people to secrecy and I really don’t want word getting around about me having this secret power. Anyway. It was past midnight, and I’d just got out of a dinner in Palo Alto with some guys from Google. (No, I can’t tell you what it was about. But it’s insanely cool, trust me, and you’ll be hearing about it soon enough.) I was walking back to my car and I came across this skeevy looking guy sitting on University Avenue dressed in layers of sweaters and jackets and begging for coins. So I stopped and gave him a pre-loaded Shuffle, which is what I usually do with homeless people, because I believe music has the power to transform lives. We get talking. He tells me he’s an Army veteran, was in the first Gulf War, doctors still can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. He’s been in and out of VA hospitals. Muscle pain, joint pain, weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath. His memory goes in and out. Sometimes he can’t remember his own name, or where he’s from.

So I look around. There’s nobody on the street. I figure I’m safe. I go, Do you know who I am? He nods his head. You’re Steve Jobs, he says. The guy from Apple. I go, That’s right. So I ask him, Do you believe I can heal you? And it must be something about the tone of my voice or maybe he can feel the force coming out of my eyes or something because he goes, Steve, I do. I really do.

It’s a frightening thing, when this happens. I’ll be honest. Every time I’ve done it, I’ve been scared myself. It’s like my whole body starts to vibrate at this very super high frequency, so fast that the movement is almost imperceptible.

Stand up, I say. He goes, I can’t stand up. My legs are too tired. So I lean down and put both of my hands on his head. I close my eyes and start moaning my syllable. I can feel the power rushing through my hands into his skull. He starts to shake like he’s having an epileptic fit. It’s all I can do to hold on to him. But I hold on. I tell him, Stand up! Stand up and walk!

He’s making this weird high-pitched sound, like a whining sound, and I know what it is — it’s the illness leaving his body. All of the years of badness, all of his demons, flying out out of his mouth. And as this is happening, he starts to lift up off the sidewalk. It’s like I’m pulling him off the ground by his head, except for one thing: I’m not pulling him at all. He’s floating up, on his own.

I take my hands away. I go, How do you feel? He says he’s a little woozy, but otherwise he feels fine. He says the pain is gone. He feels like he could go run a marathon.

Dude, he says, thanks a lot. Seriously! And thanks for the Shuffle. But wait. This shit’s not DRM’d is it? I’m like, Um, yeah, you know, we pre-load those from iTunes, so yeah, it’s got DRM on it. He goes, Oh, well, in that case, here, you can take it back. I don’t want it. Cause I friggin hate DRM. Totally impacts on my freedom. But thanks anyway. And thanks for healing me and whatever. Okay? Peace, man.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Tone deaf Microsoft defends DRM

Robbie Bach tells Forbes why Microsoft loves DRM. And he gives me a little bit of grief for my open letter, “Thoughts on Music.” Now, I’ve explained recently why I don’t think DRM is a big deal. That’s me personally. But what Microsoft doesn’t get, and what the record companies don’t get, is it doesn’t matter what we think, personally. What matters is that customers, for reasons that are often irrational, or, shall we say, founded on emotions, don’t want DRM. They just don’t. And it’s holding back all of our businesses because customers don’t want to buy music that’s wrapped in DRM. And at the end of the day we’ve got to remember we’re in the business of trying to make things that people want to buy. It’s as simple as that, really. We need to listen to customers. I know. A foreign concept for Microsoft.

Warner Music stumbles, but clings to DRM

See here. Sales down 11%, profits down 74%. Ouch. Their business is in the crapper yet Edgar Bronfman Jr. insists they won’t drop DRM.

Money quote: “We advocate the continued use of DRM. We will not abandon DRM nor services that are successfully implementing DRM for both content and consumers.”

Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you, idiot. Only 10% of the company’s sales are coming from digital. Could be way bigger if they’d just dare to be open.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Even more thoughts on "Thoughts on Music"

There’s one more thing I want to set straight. I hope you’ll pay attention because this is an important concept. When you buy a record or a CD or a digital download, you are not buying that music. You don’t own Abbey Road just because you bought a copy of that recording in some format. All you’ve bought is a physical device that plays that music until the container wears out or breaks. Some of the DRM rhetoric is akin to people buying a vinyl record, playing it for a while, and then when it wears out, going back to the record label and saying, “Hey, I already own this music, so gimme another record to replace this one that wore out. Why should I have to buy it twice?”

Either that or it’s akin to people saying, “I already bought this record on vinyl and it will only play on my turntable and not on my CD player. I mean I’ve tried putting it in the CD player and it’s not even the right size! How can you sell me a piece of music that locks me in to one kind of player? And forget about putting it on my Zune! I tried that too and there’s not even a slot where you can load the vinyl record in.”

Get this straight because it’s an important point. You’re not getting a perpetual license for any and all playback mechanisms when you buy a record or a CD or when you download a song. You never were. Records didn’t play in cassette players didn’t play in 8-track players didn’t play in CD players. Okay? And another thing: Music is cheap. You can buy a copy of Abbey Road for $9.99 on Amazon. How do you argue that this is not an amazing bargain?

Yes it would be nice if you could buy a song on iTunes and have it play anywhere. But you don’t have any constitutional right to this. Look it up. I did. There’s nothing in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence about digital downloads being transferable from one machine to another. There’s no law against making iTunes songs play only on an iPod. You can go all the way back to ancient Rome, to the Magnum Carta, and you’ll see — nothing there either.

More thoughts on "Thoughts on Music"

One claim that really irks me is this claim that people are forced to use DRM. I really resent this. Nobody is forced into DRM. Simple reason: You can always go buy the CD. They sell them online. Place called Amazon. Have you heard of it? And it’s almost always cheaper to do it this way. Has this not occurred to you? Jesus. Wake up, people.

But even if there were no CDs, nobody would be locked in to iTunes. Friends, you know not whereof you speak. I bow to the Buddha inside you, but if you don’t like the iTunes business model, don’t buy your songs on iTunes. It’s as simple as that. Nobody is holding a gun to your head. I’m amazed by the level of hysteria and outrage over this. Folks, it’s just music. It’s not like I’m Harry Lime hoarding penicillin and little babies are dying. Nobody needs music. Okay? Yes, we love music. Music is great. But you can simply decide not to buy it, and you’ll manage to survive. You’re not gonna die if you can’t buy the new Paris Hilton album.

If you really want to devote your outrage and anger toward a worthy cause, go stop the war in Iraq. Or Iran getting nukes. Or the genocide in Darfur. Or AIDS in Africa. Or poverty everywhere. I mean, look, in the list of real problems in this world, DRM ain’t even on the top 10. But for some reason it’s the one thing that really gets spoiled, middle-class, bourgeois white people in the United States and Europe — people like Richard Stallman — worked up into a lather. They think this is just the biggest evil in the world. I hate to say this but if you are one of these people, your outrage only demonstrates what a narrow, selfish little person you are and what a tiny, sheltered life you lead.

To put it another way: If DRM is the worst thing you have to deal with in your day-to-day life — if your biggest problem is that you can’t make your iTunes songs play on a Zune — then you should take a minute to thank God for giving you such a wonderful life. And you should immediately get on a plane to some part of the world and do something good for another human being.

Or consider this: Instead of spending a few hundred bucks on a frivolous piece of electronic gear only to have that device cause you years of outrage and anger, forgo the music player and send your money someplace where it could feed a kid for a year. Honestly. Shame on you.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Thoughts on "Thoughts on Music"

I know what you’re wondering. Jobso, what did you really want to say? What did this letter look like before your PR flacks polished out all the good bits? Well, for one thing, the title wasn’t “Thoughts on Music.” But the PR folks felt that “Don’t blame me” and “Frig off” didn’t have the right poetry or whatever. But just for the sake of posterity, because I know there are people who hang on my every word and will study them for generations after I’m gone, here’s one of my rough drafts:

Namaste. I honor the Buddha inside you. I come to you today with a message of hope and peace, a message that charts a new path which I believe will restore a sense of childlike wonder to your lives.

DRM sucks. You know it. I know it. But the record companies are assholes. Somehow it’s been twisted around to make it seem like we’re using DRM to protect our monopoly in music players. Nothing could be further from the truth. Friends, let me remind you of something: We are the good guys in all of this. Okay? We’re the ones with the cool ads with attractive ethnic-type people of color dancing in suggestive ways. We are all about diversity and freedom and using people of color to help sell expensive electronics to white people. We are totally progressive and gay friendly and multicultural and caring about the environment. Just look at our board of directors and our management team and you’ll see what we mean by diversity.

We’re not into DRM. We’re into music. I get up every morning and ask myself, How can I make the world a better place? That’s what drives me. Not money. I’ve already got way too much money. Heck, I could wipe my butt with hundred dollar bills and not care. I’ve actually done that. The butt thing, I mean. Was totally liberating.

But dealing with these guys in the music business is like dealing wth the Corleone family. I blogged recently about how much I hate having to breathe the same air as they do. Honestly, I get hives after our meetings. See here. It’s the worst part of my job besides having to endure Jerry York’s dog breath. Basically they are total morons. I’ve never been happy with our DRM arrangement with the labels. Bad as it is, it’s the best we could get out of them. And you can’t believe how much work we had to do just to get even this much. These people are just total boneheads.

The fact is the labels will only change if they start to get hurt financially. Which is why I think, frankly, that the best thing people could do would be to stop buying music on iTunes altogether. I know, it sounds radical. But that would show the record companies. I’ll tell you a little secret. I never buy music from iTunes. Not because of DRM. But simply because it sounds like shit. The format we use compresses the data and the music sounds awful. CDs are bad enough, compared to vinyl. But they’re a hell of a lot better sounding than the stuff we sell on iTunes. See my recent post on this subject.

The worst thing about DRM is that it doesn’t work. There’s always some jagoff (and usually he’s from Norway or some random place like that) who will devote his entire miserable non-life to trying to crack a DRM scheme. And then these same jagoffs in Scandinavia will start making noise about how we are the ones breaking the law — not the ones who illegaly hack into our software. Let me digress for a moment to say that I hate Norway and we have totally declared war on them. Tell me this. Why is it that all these freako hacker type guys always come from Scandinavia? Jesus. Is it something in the water? This DVD Jon guy just really bugs the crap out of me. And it’s not just the Scandinavians. Now the rest of Europe is jumping in too. I think there’s a reason why Europe has fallen behind the United States economically, and these guys represent the worst of it. Protectionism, over-regulation, gimme-gimme-gimme. They can pass all the laws they want. All it will accomplish is they will end up not getting any music. Fine by me.

But to those of you who get really outraged and angry at our iTunes service, ask yourself this: If our service sucks so much, why are so many people using it? Why are these Linux freaks forming a petition to beg us to port iTunes to their crappy operating system? Is it not obvious that iTunes must be doing something right if so many people are using it? Is this not something that a child running a lemonade stand would comprehend? I mean, it’s not like we’re selling all those songs only to retarded people who don’t understand the terms of the purchase.

And let’s be honest about something else. Underneath all the sanctimonious crap about how evil DRM is, at the end of the day what these agitating socialist fuckwits really want is just to be able to get music for free. It’s like the kids in college who lobby for making hemp legal and they say it’s because hemp makes such great clothing and strong rope. Riiiight. Just a coincidence that it’s always the stoners who are lobbying for this. No, come on. Let’s be honest. What this really is all about is that certain noisy scumbags are trying to decriminalize stealing. They want to make it legal to steal, as long as what’s being stolen is music. What comes next? Movies, probably. Then books. Then software. Who knows where it ends.

Now, I don’t like DRM. I think it’s stupid and I’d be glad to drop it because I know we’d sell way more songs if we didn’t have to use it, and since I’m not the copyright holder I don’t really care what happens to the musicians who made the music. I’m a middleman. That’s it. I’m like the guy who runs the record store down the block from you. If the record labels want to ship their records in cement blocks dipped in smallpox, what do I care? As long as the kids want to buy them.

Musicians and record labels can do whatever they want with their music. If they want to make it a shitty purchasing experience and piss people off, so be it. Ultimately the only recourse you customers have, really, is to not buy their music. But that’s a very huge and powerful form of recourse. I urge you to use this power. Boycott our store until the labels cave in. Won’t take long, I promise.

Finally, I know there’s been a lot of speculation about the Beatles lately. I’m happy to report that you’ll see the entire Beatles catalog on iTunes in the near future. And there’s a special extra too. Can’t get into it right now. But Paul was just here in my office and we were listening to the white album (on vinyl, of course) and going over our plans and we both agreed, this is mind-blowing stuff. Like game over kind of stuff. Like they’re going to redesign cities to accommodate it.

That’s all I can say now. Frig the record labels. Frig Norway. Remember who the good guys are. It’s us. Namaste. Peace out. Much love.

Friday, January 26, 2007

War expands: Now all of Europe

Jesus friggin Christ. Now the Dutch are jumping in too. They’re joining the idiots from Norway who want us to “open up” the iTunes format so songs can play on any machine, according to this story. What is it with these goddamn Scandinavians? Clearly they’re all in collusion with one another. And what is up with these names? Ewok von Doezeninzekrapfenhausen or whatever? Is there not a single person in Scandinavia with a normal name? Honestly, folks, there’s a simple solution. Just don’t buy music from the iTunes store. Go buy the CD and rip it yourself. It’ll cost you less, and it will be uncompressed, so it will actually sound better. You can do this online. Place called Amazon. Heard of it? Or just go get your music from any of the zillion other online stores besides iTunes. Honestly.

Or better yet. Why not take your big whoop Linux OS and build your own music player and your own music store — God I’d love to see the glitchy brick you’d crank out, and the frigtarded UI you bozos would put on the software — and make deals with all the record labels and sell songs whichever way you want. What’s that? Oh, right. That sounds like work, doesn’t it. I mean you’d sort of have to put down your hash pipes and get off your ass and start a company. Much easier to just go to your rigged courts and use them to put the screws to the people who actually did go to all the trouble and expense of making an online music store that actually works. Heck, picketing is so much easier than actually making stuff. I mean, you can picket while you’re stoned. And you guys are soooo good at picketing. Just look at the French. It’s their number one national sport, followed closely by bashing beurs.

Listen up, Europe. We don’t need your business. We definitely don’t need your complaining and your hypocritical sanctimonious preaching. God, does anyone still wonder why Europe has fallen behind economically? Just a bunch of lazy whingeing socialists who want everything given to them for free. Go away. I’m serious. Especially you Scandinavians.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Norway: This is war

What kind of country has an “ombudsman” anyway? Well, Norway does. And here he is. Bjoern Erik Thon. And he says if we don’t “open up” iTunes, Norway will take us to court. Okay, Norway. You want to play hardball? Tell you what. Saddle up the reindeer, strap some body armor over your queer-ass Dale sweaters, wrap your pretentious scarf tight around your chicken neck, and meet us on the field of battle. Or how about this? How about we just stop selling iPods in Norway? And we block anyone in Norway from getting access to iTunes? And we tell everyone there that Bjoern Erik Thon is the reason for this, and here’s his home address and phone number, so go see him if you don’t like it. Or even better: How about I run for president of Norway, win in a landslide, fire Bjoern Erik Thon, and pass a law outlawing Microsoft and making Apple products the only ones allowed in Norway?

Jesus H. Christ. Like I don’t have enough to worry about already, what with the feds trying to throw me in the slammer, and Jerry York yelling at me with his dog breath, and the gay longhairs still threatening to picket. Now we’ve got the Scandinavians up in arms. Friggin elves.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oh please

“Teflon Steve is wearing thin in Europe,” The Motley Fool says here. Oh, because we’ve got this big monopoly, and all these friggin Norwegians or whatever are up in arms about it. Come on. Folks, if you don’t like the way the iPod is set up, don’t buy one. It’s as simple as that. Nobody is twisting your arm or holding a gun to your head or whatever other bad metaphor you prefer. Go buy a Zune. Or some kooky Nokia phone that plays music. Seriously. I’m sick of this Eurocrap, honestly.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Much love, Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

I can’t link to Holman’s article from this morning because it’s on the pay-only Wall Street Journal site. (BTW where’s the outrage from the EU leftietards over this “closed system”? How soon until some unemployed Scandinavian sitting around in his pee-stained underpants figures out how to “hack” the copy protection and then claims a moral victory, arguing that the Journal should be allowing everyone to just see its content at no cost, and make as many copies as they like? But I digress.) But basically old HWJJr. sees right through the BS at Cisco over their alleged iPhone trademark. Bottom line: It’s a shakedown. And not even a good one. Cisco claims it wants “interoperability.” In other words, you’ve got a great business, so let us ride your coattails. Money quote:

Cisco’s proffer, in other words, is the equivalent of slipping and falling on Mick Jagger’s sidewalk, then trying to parlay it into a place in the band (with royalties, of course).

Thing is, Cisco desperately wants to move into the consumer space. The core of the network, where Cisco has made its bones, has become a commodity. All the action is at the edge. Hence their acquisitions of Scientific Atlanta and Linksys. But content, as always, is king. It’s about the software. And that’s what I’ve got. And no, Mr. Chambers, you can’t have it just because you booted some last-minute field goal on this iPhone trademark. Sorry.

Besides that, have you ever seen those butt-ugly Linksys WiFi modems? Sort of purple and black, with giant antennas? Who wants one of those in their house? Who thinks I’m gonna let those frigtards “interoperate” with my beautiful gear? No friggin way. But thank you, thank you, Holman, for saying what needed to be said. Peace out.

(Note to Apple PR: Can we get this guy in for a one-hour hypnosis session, er, “one-on-one interview” regarding the options business?)