It has been only several days since one of the most visible and well-recognized CEOs, Steve Jobs, stepped down from his position, and I felt it would appropriate to open up some discussion on CV.
My question is simple, and it has another secondary question attached to it.
Has iTunes been good or bad for the music industry?
Has iTunes been good or bad for the classical music world?
Obviously there are plenty of opinions to be had on each question. I have an opinion if you care to read on.
I think the answer is that iTunes has been good for the music industry and the classical music world. HOWEVER, this does not mean that it does not have its drawbacks. The fact that one can get access to such a humongous library of music in seconds and find even obscure music, has completely changed how we think about music. Yet, some have seen that as being soul-less, and have targeted iTunes as the killer of the record store. However, Wal-Mart was already doing that long, long before (like in the Napster days) iTunes came around.
It is also in this very mentioning of Napster that brings me to the biggest upside of iTunes in my opinion. It established a culture against the then bacchanalian sharing of music. No matter how annoying Lars Ulrich from Metallica was, he was very often in the right about the legal sharing and distribution of music. It was madness. No one owned their music. It was all burned on CDs. Also, listeners had to deal with music shared with mixed bit-rate and quality, misnaming of files, corrupted files, possible hackers and the like. I mean really?? It was a black market. How one got music, or what condition was of no consequence. And although you may not think so, iTunes restored the culture of music ownership.
Unfortunately, like I said, nothing good comes without a price. Apple drove prices right into the ground. Granted, that means you can own more music (are CDs still 17 dollars? Maybe that’s why record stores went out of business), but it also means it has created a culture that does not see music as valuable. When you think about it, a $1 song can change your life, so it seems ridiculous that it is valued at the same price as these items from the Dollar Tree. (Make sure to get your dancing solar sunflowers while they last!)
So those are some thoughts, and they are no way exhaustive, but a start to some conversation I hope.
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