Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

So I'm surfing around the 'net, trying to get my mind off the ugly beating the BoSox are getting right now, and I spot the news item that AC/DC's next album will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Wal-Mart and I'm not much in favor of single store exclusives. Yes, I did actually enter a Wal-Mart store for the first time in years this past spring so I could purchase the new Journey cd for my girl. I am proof that the sales strategy works, though I do wonder if limiting your audience (even to the huge consumer crowd that is Wal-Mart's) is all that smart, especially in the long run. Regardless, I don't fault artists for signing up. The music industry is in such disarray, they need to do whatever they can to get their music heard. I mean, John Mellencamp's single last year, "Our Country," got a heck of a lot more airplay with Chevy ads than he could ever get with today's radio stations.

I have no problem with AC/DC selling their new album, Black Ice, exclusively at Wal-Mart. What irks me is some of the comments made by lead singer Brian Johnson:
"Maybe I'm just being old-fashioned, but this iTunes, God bless 'em, it's going to kill music if they're not careful," lead singer Brian Johnson, 61, told Reuters.

"It's a...monster, this thing," he said. "It just worries me. And I'm sure they're just doing it all in the interest of making as much...cash as possible. Let's put it this way, it's certainly not for the...love, let's get that out of the way, right away," he said.

God bless you too, Mr. Johnson, but what a load of crapola!

"Kill music?" Why I do believe a solid case could be made that Apple is doing the exact opposite. I'm not saying the iPod/iTunes system is perfect by any means, but I can say that since I've used both I have been more excited about my music collection than I had for a decade!

"Doing it all in the interest of making as much...cash as possible?" Apple has gone out of its way to keep the price of music as low as possible. 99 cents a track is a price point Steve Jobs refuses to increase, and he's taken a lot of hits for it.

"Certainly not for the...love?" To quote my least favorite Tina Turner song, "What's Love Got to Do with It?" Of course, Apple's trying to make money, same as Wal-Mart. Does either one of these companies "love" music more than the other? That's hard to tell. But by treating all artists equally by offering all tracks at the same price, by making music easy to listen to regardless of where you are, and by spotlighting music with one of the coolest gizmos ever created, I think Apple has proven that it is a worthy suitor. I mean, any two-bit retailer can sell t-shirts. And IMHO, I wouldn't be at all surprised if parents weren't buying AC/DC shirts for their kids because of Beavis & Butt-head more than love for the actual band itself.

On a more positive note, it is nice to see Metallica on iTunes! And Apple had a cool promotion where you could buy a weekly new track a month beginning a month prior to the actual album release. At that time, you could then just click a button to complete the album and did not have to "rebuy" the tracks. Looks like it is working out for the guys too, as Death Magnetic is still among the top five rock album downloads.

Rock on!

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