Music business

 Bill Gates with a Zune (photo Reuters)

Couple of good quotes / stories I found in a desperate attempt to do some catch-up reading of my Economist stockpile. Strangely enough both items from the same page in the July 7th issue (p. 69).

In A change of tune  (paywalled), we have Warner Music chairman, Edgar Bronfman saying “The music industry is growing, [but]… The record industry is not growing.” In these few short words, he’s surely captured an important truth.

Interest in music and music listening has probably never been more healthy, but the record companies seem unable to find a role for themselves. The economist writer moves on to suggest that artists will replace their lost (record sale) revenues with tours, merchandise and personal appearances, leaving the labels to become glorified managers. The tracks themselves become marketing material for the artists. Seem far-fetched? Look at how Prince took his latest album to market – as a ‘free’ giveaway on the Mail on Sunday.

An interesting piece, although there remains the huge hole in the rights debate about what on earth might happen to great film and TV shows, how do they get paid for? If we want Studio 60 and The Shawshank Redemption, we’re going to have to fund them.

The second piece is an article about the release of the iPhone: Where would Jesus queue? (also paywalled). Having marvelled at the hype, fervour and – perhaps most impressively – lack of disappointment once in consumers’ hands, which surrounded the launch of the “Jesus phone”, the writer recounts a story from outside the store where he was queing.

It seems a passerby who had just arrived from Mars wanted to know what the queue was for. “What are you all standing in line for?” she asked. The response from some wag in the queue was “Zunes!”. That’s a good joke and it goes to really demonstrate the extent to which Apple has captured the public’s imagination with innovation and great, user-centred design.