Apple rocks the music world…again
What? Isn’t today’s announcement from Steve Jobs just about a newly designed iPod Touch? And something about streaming TV shows and renting movies? How could this little black box change the way we get and listen to our music?
Thanks to Bob Lefsetz (I’ll get to him in a sec) again for pointing out the obvious just minutes after Apple made the announcement that it had the pet rock of 2010 that everybody will want for Christmas. At only a recession-friendly $99 here in the US, this little black box hooks up to your television and allows you to tap into the cloud and stream television shows and movies. In high def.
Here’s the official bla bla bla:
Everything you want to watch — movies, TV shows, photos, and more — streams wirelessly to Apple TV. That way you don’t have to worry about managing storage or syncing to your iTunes library. HD movie and TV show rentals play over the Internet to your widescreen TV, while music and photos stream from your computer.
Bob Lefsetz is a former music industry geek who ran the US division of Sanctuary Records and is an attorney as well. He is also is a prolific blogger well before a blog was ever invented. He used to send out real paper letters to his friends in the entertainment business with his thoughts on everything (mostly music related, but everything else that rolls across his mind). With connectivity, he started to deliver his missives via email and if you Google his name you’ll find a website.
Now it should be said that Bob is loved by some, and hated by many. He calls it like he sees it, which is usually crystal clear but occasionally a bit foggy. His emails come a few times a week or sometimes you can get three or four a day. I don’t know him personally but I imagine he spends most of his time just sitting in front of his computer at home in Santa Monica reading, thinking and writing.
About an hour after Job’s announcement, Bob’s email made his way to my inbox. Let me just quote him (although I’m going to cut and paste because ol’ Bob rambles free form sometimes):
Rental. Streaming. Subscription.
Remember those three, they’re the key to the future. Much more important than the Situation’s GTL. (Gym, tan, laundry for the uninitiated.)
Music was the pretense, but this presentation was truly about television, the Apple TV. Which, priced at $99, will blow out this holiday season. That’s truly a staggering price. Apple fanboys can buy one as a souvenir, like merch at a concert, to show their friends more than use.
But in introducing the new Apple TV, Steve Jobs revealed the future of music.
Steve said people don’t want to store their movies. They don’t want to manage them. They want them instantly, on the TV.
And casual viewers might think he’s building a business renting TVs and movies, but those thinkers would believe Apple cares about selling music. No, music was a platform for selling iPods, and eventually iPhones and iPads. And the iTunes movie and TV rentals are just a demonstration, a minor business. The real key is streaming Netflix.
Have you been following this story? While Blockbuster languishes, dying a slow death like brick and mortar music retail, Netflix has gone into the streaming business. The future. They’re locking in deals.
You could stream via certain TVs. A PS3. Other set-top boxes. But now it’s even easier to get in on the action via Apple TV. You pay a small amount per month, and you can stream a ton of product. Just keep paying.
Rental. Streaming. Subscription.
This was the essence of today’s Apple presentation. This is the future of music. Don’t say people won’t rent, Netflix is gigantic, incredibly fantastic and successful. Reed Hastings will tell you the future is streaming. And you’ve got to subscribe to participate. Oh, you can rent individual shows on iTunes, but that’s like being pecked to death by ducks. Sure, you can buy music on iTunes, but don’t you want to be able to play whatever you want, wherever you want, for a small sum of money per month?
It’s just a matter of when we get there. When the rights holders realize that they’ve just got to follow Steve Jobs’ model. He’s given them the blueprint. He’s done the research. License others before he ends up dominating the music market too.
Bob has been blasting the traditional music business model for years and as you might guess from the above, he believes that cloud technology is the future for delivery. The challenges have been working out the pricing model and coming up with the ability to place your subscription music on a mobile device. And while all the fat cat music execs try to hold onto their gigs and pad their retirement accounts under the guise of protecting their properties, technology marches forward and Apple just blew them off again.
A few more final words and suggestions from Bob directed toward the creative community:
If you’re an artist, RUN from commercialism. It’s your only hope. Because you pale in comparison to Steve Jobs. You can’t do his job better than he can. But Steve Jobs can’t play music. Can’t write, can’t perform. He’s put his 10,000 hours in developing technology. Your only hope is to practice really hard and sell your essence…music.
Apple is no longer a music company. It’s like thinking Sony is a music company. Rights holders can bitch that Apple has hijacked their business, and now with Ping, that might be more true than ever, but the future is not Apple. The future is not Live Nation. Certainly not Universal. The future is music.
And it hasn’t been about music for far too long. It’s been about fame. But no musician is as famous as Steve Jobs. Think about that. And think small. Intimate. Don’t start trying to reach everybody, start trying to touch just a few. Think of it like love, not commercialism.
I’m off to eat an Apple.