Open Mouth, Insert Foot

This is the first post in my new blog: Random Thoughts

Recently, Jon Bon Jovi blamed the decline of the music industry on Steve Jobs. Really? Apparently, Mr. Bongiovi did not get the memo that Napster was the first real threat to the music industry’s resistance to embrace new technology. Napster shook things up when it launched in June, 1999. iTunes didn’t come along until January 2001.

Jon’s complaint is supposedly about “the experience” of getting a new release and how iTunes has taken that experience away. I don’t know if I am the exception but I was never one to buy a record, cassette or a CD based solely on what the album cover looked like. I had to hear the music before I laid down my hard earned money. (There’s nothing like laying down $15.99 and finding out that you bought one great tune and 11 stinkers.) I believe that this is Jon complaining about the decline in sales of his most recent releases. I read a couple other articles recently (sorry, but I cannot find the links) and in one, Jon was complaining that album sales were no where near what they used to be. In the other, he complained that he hadn’t made one of the “Top 500 Richest” lists or something similar. It came off to me that he sounded a little ungrateful for what he does have.

My thoughts on the reason his album sales aren’t what they used to be are simple. He’s not what the general public is consuming these days. He’s been around long enough that folks are more interested in going to see his shows than buying his records. He has crossed the plateau from being “it” to being a nostalgia act. Now, I’m not dogging on that. I would love to be in his shoes and still filling arenas 20+ years after my big break. What I’m saying is that his means for generating income from his music have shifted from selling records to selling out arenas.

What do you think? Am I off base here? Are Jon & other “classic rockers” just being too whiny because they miss the old days? Post your comments below. I would love to hear what you have to say.

Now get off my lawn, you hoodlums.

11 thoughts on “Open Mouth, Insert Foot

  1. Few famous musicians are known for their intellectual chops.

    That said, I miss the album too. Sitting back with headphones, gazing at the album artwork or reading the lyrics as the songs played…

    Albums were a wonderful, immersive experience.

    That experience died with the advent of mp3’s.

    As we speak, there is no viable replacement.


  2. Ok Tater! You’re WAY off base here. Here we go!! lol

    Yes – it’s true that Napster was the first to come along with the whole let’s make mp3’s available to everyone under the sun for free. BUT at that time, the quality was still terrible, everyone didn’t have a super fast internet connection, and honestly, most general music consumers didn’t know about it. It was generally a college fad at the time. Sure it ate into record sales. That being said (and you know I came from record retail), the music industry enjoyed it’s highest sales totals EVERY in it’s history in 2000 – 20002. Those years saw the release of records like NSYNC’s No Strings Attached that sold 2.2 million in the first week (the highest first week sales ever), as well as 2 million first week sellers from Eminem and 50 Cent. Record sales were through the roof when Napster was at it’s height. The major decline came in the mid 2000’s. And why was that? Because Steve Jobs/Apple put all the music in one place in just as good of quality as the CD. And he put it on little gadgets that EVERYONE had to have. Napster did none of these things. So while illegal mp3 sites might have started hitting the nail and getting it started in the board, Steve Jobs came along with a sledgehammer and smashed it all the way through the thing with one swing! And this is one aspect of what Jon is referring to with his comments.

    (I’d also like to point out that Bon Jovi released Crush in 2000 and sold close to 11 million copies worldwide. Not bad for a washed up hair band).

    To the other point – as a person that grew up in record stores and who has worked in them all his adult life, Jon hit the nail on the head here. Buying music used to be a religious experience almost. Kids were record store rats. They met and made their friends hanging out in them. Classic bands were formed through relationships that started in record stores (Motley Crue). And yes, people did buy records solely because of what the cover looked like. That’s why all the iconic covers are from years past and no one cares about them anymore. I can tell you that as a Kiss fan, I did not hear the music first. I saw the Destroyer cover first, had to have it, and then fell in love with the music afterwards. And that’s the same story I bet most people our age would tell you. Think about it man. Hard rock bands weren’t always played on the radio. Most people didn’t hear Black Sabbath and Kiss on their local radio station. It was word of mouth in the record stores. It was looking at those bad ass album covers. It was actually going into the store and talking to the hip, cool employees. And now all of that is gone. And it was Steve Jobs that help turn the EXPERIENCE of buying music into a normal, everyday, mundane process, with no emotion attached to it – as well as making it a hermit hobby…

    Steve Jobs didn’t destroy the music industry by himself, but he certainly has his boot pressed firmly against its throat and he’s never going to let it up – there is a little bit of breath left, but not much.

    And one last thing – Bon Jovi still sells plenty of records. Their new albums almost always debut at #1 (at least in the top 5). Here are the releases years and worldwide sales for all the Bon Jovi records since 2000:

    Crush (2000) – 11 Million
    Bounce (2002) – 6 Million
    Have a Nice Day (2005) – 7 Million
    Lost Highway (2006) – 4 Million
    The Circle (2009) – 3 Million

    That’s more than most of the current stars of today.

    Jon Bon Jovi is right on the money.


  3. Hmm, maybe Bon Jovi’s sales are going down because the quality of the albums is going down. Technology allows people to preview music without paying & I for one don’t buy music if it’s not worth the $$$$$$$$$. There is too much great stuff out there to pay for mediocre.

  4. I can see his complaints about killing the exitement and joyability of buying music by Steve Jobs. And before that we had Napster, Kaaza etc….

    At least Steve Jobs gets him a paycheck for his music unlike the other ones mentioned.

    For the the exitement of opening an album out if its seal is still not comparable to buying and opening a CD let alone a digital copy….But that is the only complaint he can make actually.

    Looking at the sales figures since 2000 he hasn’t done bad at all, and today’s music business is more and more about touring and it looks to me that more and more acts/bands have music out there to support their tour and not the other way around like it was up until the late 90’s. In the late 90’s we saw bands tour without new music released and making a killing on ticket sales and this continues to this day.

    Bon Jovi is lucky…he is still selling millions of records, can ask a high ticket price worldwide and sells out large arena’s and stadiums on each and every tour since Tipper Gore tried to censure music…. I guess it is here to blame then 😉

  5. Ok..I was one of the record store rats. Growing up, the minute i got some money it was off to the record store. I bought many album based on the cover. Got some good ones…got a BUNCH of junk. But thats what made it fun for me. In todays wold….cd’s cost to much to just to be throwing money around. I am also one of these people who still like to go to store, get the CD in my hands, take it home listen to it and read the liner notes. The fact that you can just go online and download it and then burn it to a cd…just seems wrong to me

    IMO, the reason Jon Bon is upset is the fact people can now preview their music now and found out how bad it sucks. I have not bought an BJ album since Crush.

  6. Jon Bon Jovi said it use to be ‘magical’. What could be more magical than being able to preview 90 seconds of a song, like it and then get it instantly from iTunes?
    Even from a recording artist perspective, with my own song catalog available on iTunes, Steve Jobs is my hero. Jon Bon Jovi is living in another paradigm of his generation and not getting the paradigm of the new generation.

  7. Thanks for the article, Big Al. I actually (at first) agreed with JBJ. I loved the experience of listening to a new album. Record stores were my favorite place to hang out.

    However, I don’t believe that Steve Jobs should be blamed for that experience fading away. He just gave us another choice on how to enjoy music. I’m glad that I have vinyl, CDs AND an iPod. I have 28,500+ songs on my iPod Classic (including some Bon Jovi).

  8. nobody is preventing anybody from having that experience. If Mr. Bon Jovi cares to, he can make sure his album is available for purchase on vinyl, CD, cassette, 8 track, reel to reel, minidisc, DCC, and whatever the fuck else he wants to put it on. Then, if anyone cares to have the experience, they will purchase the vinyl or the CD or the whatever and have that experience. Obviously a lot of people prefer the experience of having music delivered to their desktop instantly and could care less about some shiny wrapping. All that matters as far as I am concerned is the experience I have of actually listening to the music, that connection that is made between myself and an unseen force as my senses react to what they are presented with.

  9. Yes, the experience of hanging out in a record store is (for the most part gone)

    But when I was a kid, I used to dream that there could someday be some kind of electronic service, that would let me sample any album I wanted to before buying it.

    It came true.

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