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.