Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DVD Jon can doubleTwist on my knob

The Norwegian code monkey has created a remake of our famous 1984 advertisement, with a guy who looks like me in the role of Big Brother. And he’s got some new iTunes hack. We’re all trembling with fear.

Seriously, DVD Jon, listen up. Apparently you’re a pretty smart guy. You’re entirely self-taught, and you seem to be able to crack just about any kind of encryption. But is this really the best use of your time and talent? All this playing of lame jokes and publicity stunts, like placing a huge anti-Apple ad right next to our store? Hacking our software? Making knock-offs of our videos? Really? Is this what you want to do with your life? You just want to copy work that other people do? You’re just going to be a cloner? A prankster? A painter who makes copies of Rembrandts, and tries to pass them off as originals? The kid who goes around letting the air out of everyone’s bike tires? Why not try your hand at actually making something original? You know?

Well, whatever. You want to spend your life playing cat-and-mouse games with me. That’s fine. It’s a distraction for me, and yet another slight pain in my ass, which I don’t need, but somehow I will push on and keep bringing wonder to the world. Somehow I will make peace with the understanding that all of your incredible, superhuman efforts — all those sleepless nights, the endless hours spent hacking away, drinking Red Bull and cackling like a maniac — may, in the end, maybe cause us to make .00001% fewer dollars than we would have otherwise. Fine. I will find a way to live with this. I will deal with the notion that you have attached yourself to me, like a remora to a shark. (Though for what it’s worth, I would refer you to the Wikipedia entry for remora, specifically the following discussion of that animal’s diet: “There is controversy whether a remora’s diet is primarily leftover fragments, or the feces of the host. In some species … consumption of host feces is strongly indicated in gut dissections.” Yeah. Enjoy that image. I know I will.)

For the record, we did not “pull strings” or “pressure the advertising company” to take down your ad from the side of our store, as you apparently told TechCrunch. At least, there is no evidence that we did those things. Nor, for that matter, is there any evidence to support your claim that we’ve become Big Brother. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must call Eric Schmidt and have your video taken down from YouTube. Peace.

Friday, May 9, 2008

NBC makes video deal with Zune

See the pathetic news here. After breaking up with us and pulling their video content out of iTunes, now NBC is making a deal with the Borg to distribute its stuff on Zunes. As a dear friend of mine once said, It’s the first time I’ve seen rats swimming toward a sinking ship.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Regarding this subscription music service

You’ve probably seen stories like this one in BusinessWeek claiming we’re trying to roll out a subscription music plan. Or this one from the Financial Times. The fact is it’s a great idea, at least for some people. And every study shows there’s an appetite for this kind of thing. But until we have it rolled out I’m going to keep saying it’s shit and that nobody wants it. And if you really want to know why we don’t have it, it’s not for lack of trying on our part. It’s the record labels. In case you hadn’t noticd, those guys friggin hate us. I mean hate us. Like, a lot. And they’re working overtime trying to weaken us by propping up new distrributors like Nokia. To do that, they’ll create innovative new plans and then feed those to the “ABA” (Anybody But Apple) companies. They’re praying that one of these moronic outfits actually gains some traction. Frankly I don’t see it happening. Simple reason. It’s hard to make a good music player. It’s hard to make good software for managing music. It’s hard to make a good online music store. And it’s really, really hard to make all those things work together in a seamless, holistic experience. The record labels don’t seem to understand this. They never have. They think what we’ve done is trivial and can be easily replicated. It’s not, and it can’t. But whatever, record label dudes. Keep pissing into the wind. We’ll still be here when you get tired of having pee all over your face.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We’re about to pass Wal-Mart in music sales

Says here we’re going to surpass Wal-Mart and become the #1 music retailer in the U.S. before the end of this year. Money quote from an analyst: “Digital sales were up close to 50 percent and CD sales were down 20 percent last year. Even at half that growth rate in digital sales, Apple will in all likelihood catch Wal-Mart this year.”

Um, record labels? You know how you think I’ve been a dick in the past? Just wait till you see what I’m like when we’re on top.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

We’re not pirating your music. We’re promoting it.

Some freako unknown musician guy says he’s outraged because he saw his albums for sale on iTunes but he’s never seen a dime from us. See here. He describes us as “a huge multi-billion dollar corporation that has been selling thousands of dollars worth of my music and not even acknowledging it.”

Folks, I can’t address the specifics of this situation, and frankly I’m not up to speed on exactly what our arrangement is with this particular artist or his label. But I assure you that we are asbolutely fulfilling our end of whatever bargain we’ve made with this fellow. And I will guarantee you that even if this fellow is not getting any money from us, he is definitely getting attention for his music by being on our store and that in itself is a form of compensation.

We don’t rip off artists. We love artists. We’re all for the artists. The crazy ones. The rebels. It’s who we are. It’s how we do business. We’re good. People who complain about us are bad. That’s all I have to say on this matter at this time. Now will someone please get me a friggin chai latte at exactly one hundred and sixty five degrees? Thank you. (Much love to JoinAnonymous for the tip.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Pepsi and Amazon to give away $1 billion worth of music

See here. Bright side is maybe finally someone else will be taking the heat for ruining the value of music. I, at least, made sure to collect a buck for each song. These bozos want to drive the prize to zero.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Over the hills and far away

Now I know everyone’s making a big deal out of this Beatles deal we’re working on, but what most people don’t realize is that there’s something even bigger coming along involving Led Zeppelin. I’m not supposed to say anything about it, but it’s 99.999% done and it’s really unique among all the deals we’ve done. Cool thing is that Zep isn’t just going to sell stuff online like everyone else, mostly because they just don’t see the point of it and they don’t need the money and they really don’t like the idea of people buying one track at a time when they created their albums to be albums.

Keith Daly, our iTunes dealmaker guy, has spent years going back and forth with them on this and he’s agreed to do albums-only if that’s whey insist upon and he also says another reason for the holdout is that they want to feel special or whatever and they figure that by waiting until everyone else jumps then there will be a big deal when they finally sign on. Don’t ever underestimate the egos on these guys, especially on Plant, but anyway in the end we’ve managed to craft something that turns out to be way more exciting than any deal we’ve ever made, because it’s going to involve not just a great band but also a huge breakthrough in sound quality, one that’s going to require us to do loads of work on our end to accommodate a new digital format.

Eventually we are going to have the entire Zeppelin catalog, plus extra tracks, outtakes, and some live stuff that’s never been heard anywhere, and we mght even be putting out new Zeppelin albums based on previously unheard archival work and possibly some new solo stuff from Jimmy and Robert. Now, however, in the beginning, we’re going to just have the original Zep albums, and Zeppelin is going to release them one at a time, in chronological order, hoping to hype the crap out of each one, maybe doing one every six months or so, or however long it takes Jimmy to remaster the tracks and then sprinkle the hard drives with goat’s blood or whatever it is he does during his black masses.

The albums will all be personally remastered by Jimmy himself from the original tapes and re-done in a high-resolution digital format that some dudes in Germany have developed and which is supposedly 100 times better than CD quality. On a trip to England last month I spent a day with Page and Plant in Page’s home studio and they played me a version of Stairway that Jimmy had remastered on one of these high-rez A-to-D converters and honestly it was stunning. Never, ever, in any format, have I heard music that sounds like this. It sounded real.

So what this means for consumers is that soon we are going to be able to deliver digital sound through iTunes that’s unimaginably better than anything you’ve ever heard on LP or CD, and so lifelike that it’s like being in the studio with the musicians when they were recording the songs. And this is why Zep has held out for so long, not simply because of their egos but because Jimmy (who by the way is a huge Mac user) doesn’t want to just put his stuff on the Internet for the sake of doing it, but rather he wants to find a way to push digital downloads to the next level. CDs have always been complete shit, he says, and he’s never liked any of the Zeppelin CDs that have been put out, mostly because of the low sample rates and other limitations which have made them at best “a pale shadow” (his term) of what exists on the original analog master tapes.

Unfortunately, most of the stuff people listen to on iPods is even worse than what they had on CDs, and way worse than the original tapes. Now, however, that’s going to change, because we’re on the verge of a huge breatkhrough in which the quality of digital music is going to leapfrog past analog, and Led Zeppelin is going to be on the cutting edge of this, along with Apple and iTunes. The engineers in our labs have ordered three of these German A-to-D machines and as soon as they get here we’re going to start doing some experiments of our own with high-rez downloads, and I’m hoping that by this year’s Christmas season we’ll be delivering Zeppelin I in glorious high-rez digital, and we’ll maybe a special ZOSO iPod, in black with a pentagram, available in a bundled purchase promotion type thing.

Peace out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

You’re damn right I call the tune

Leander Kahney says here that I’m now driving the music business. He also correctly detects that I picked off the weakest music company first — EMI — for a no-DRM deal. And he notes that I published that open letter about DRM a while back so that when the EMI deal happened it would look like it was my idea. Sure, the EMI guys are a little pissed about this, since in fact it was their idea. Oh well. You guys want to sell over the Internet? Well, I’m the gatekeeper. I got there first, and I figured out how to make this stuff work. Not you. Me. Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.

We’re working on this EU pricing thing

You guys are right. This pricing system in Europe is totally out of whack. I had no idea we were charging different prices in every country and not letting people buy from whatever store they wanted, and so forth. Sure, I’m a micro-manager and a control freak, but I can’t be involved in every decision. Like how to price songs in Estonia, or how to dish out stock options to myself. These are things where I just don’t get involved. In the case of the options, well, it’s pretty clear who screwed the pooch there (cough Fred cough). In Europe the blame falls squarely at the feet of our Paris-based European director, Jean-Christophe Cul de Chat (shown in photo). Sure, he’s good looking. And cool. And related to the guy who runs one of our biggest institutional investors. He’s also as dumb as a piece of French toast. I’ve told him he’s got two months to straighten out this mess. If he can’t, we’ll promote him to SVP and move him to Cupertino. That lit a fire under his ass.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Nanny state at its finest

Lot of people writing in to inform me that the EU Commission was trying to rain on our parade today by confirming their antitrust investigation. See here. Not sure what to say about this really. And I’m not sure what we should do. Get out of the music business? Shut down our iTunes store? Stop making iPods? Or maybe we can just let a bunch of people in Brussels figure out what price we should charge for each song in each country. Fine. Fair enough. Just send us the price list. Heck, maybe these Brussellians can go out and do our component sourcing in Asia for us. They can haggle with the Taiwanese and get us a better price on chips. Maybe they can do all the arm-twisting in Hollywood and at the music labels too, and work out all the contracts. And at the end of each quarter just let us know how much we sold and whether or not we made any profit. I can kind of guess the answer to the last one but whatever.