Is Steve Jobs music's savior, or is he the angel of death? Jon Bon Jovi cast his vote in The Sunday Times Magazine; the American rock musician thinks Jobs is "killing" the music industry with iTunes.
The massive success of iTunes, says Bon Jovi, has caused the "magical" experience of buying records in a store to disappear. "Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it," the rocker told The Sunday Times Magazine. Bon Jovi says that "in a generation from now people are going to say: 'What happened?' Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business."
I am not sure the record industry would completely agree with Bon Jovi's assessment of the situation. Labels and recording artists have sold more than 10 billion songs through Apple's music store since it launched on April 28, 2003. Today, the iTunes Store is the top music vendor in the United States and has proven to be a worthy competitor to the illegal peer-to-peer and music download services that preceded it.
It's certainly unfortunate that nationwide chains like Tower Records and Sam Goody closed their doors. Also unfortunate is the near annihilation of the used record market. On the other hand, the digital era allows me to buy a track instantly without leaving the house. I can also share my favorite artists and albums with friends and complete strangers using
Ping Facebook, and I can easily discover new music using "magical" recommendations based on what I and millions of people with similar tastes enjoy.
Losing some of the tactile experience of shopping for music seems like a small price to pay for progress. Besides, I never had a big enough allowance to judge an album by its jacket.
What do you think? Is the iTunes Store going to demolish the music industry? Or has it simply sparked a new era of opportunity for record labels and musicians?