Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NEWS: Jermaine Dupri Mouths Off For His Boss

Most people that follow the music industry realized that Jay-Z's big statement about not releasing American Gangster on iTunes was not Jay being a boss, but Jay being an employee fighting Universal CEO Doug Morris' war with Steve Jobs. Doug Morris runs the biggest record label in the world, and one that generally operates as a bully to get their way. It must be frustrating for Mr. Morris to have someone who changed the face of music retail, not jump up and dance for him when he wants to. Mr. Morris has been trying to figure out how to put the pressure on Steve for many months now and thought not giving them American Gangster was a great new stab. Steve Jobs probably just chuckled as in the end it's just Universal shooting themselves in the foot through their misguided bullying. Steve doesn't care about American Gangster, just like the public really didn't care in the big picture. Because music is practically free now due to many years of major label incompetence. They still haven't figured out how to monetize online retail, and Steve has been laughing to the bank by offering a superior product in the iPod, and a seamless process with his software. However much he sells through the, admittedly flawed yet well-designed, iTunes store is just the cherry on top of his massive profits from the iPod and iPhone.

The latest executive to go on the war path for Mr. Morris is Jermaine Dupri who wrote a blog entry about it on the Huffington Post. It's somewhat sad to see Jay-Z and JD, two executives that present themselves as top power players, exposed to be minions and pawns in the big picture of the music industry hierarchy. Foot soldiers fighting the 'good fight' for their boss. A few misguided quotes from JD's blog below. I'd laugh if it wasn't essentially so sad to see him being pimped.

"So if we as artists, producers and label executives stand up, those guys at Apple can either cooperate, or have nothing for people to buy and download on their iPods."
Actually, research shows that the average number of iTunes bought tracks per iPod is only 20. The rest if pirated, ripped from CD, or purchased elsewhere. In other words, you're wrong JD, this strategy will not make Apple cooperate and it won't put a dent into their profits, just into your own.

"Back in the day when people were excited about a record coming out we'd put out a single to get the ball going and if we sold a lot of singles that was an indication we'd sell a lot of albums[...]Did consumer complain? Maybe so. But at what point does any business care when consumer complains about the money? Why do people not care how we - the people who make music - eat? If they just want the single, they gotta get the album. That was how life was."
Um, actually JD 'back in the day' there were ONLY singles in Popular Music, followed up by 'albums that were a collection of the singles already released for convenient package purchase. Then The Beatles came along and released the first real album 'that was really conceived as one piece, to be listened to as a whole.' (source) Also about the 'caring' about your customer thing? Well, that's how your boss screwed the industry. Front loading albums with one good single, that you'd then have to buy the shitty album for to get. Didn't work very well for you. Welcome to right now.

"Asking us to let other people mess with all our hard work like that is disrespectful. It's like when you go an art auction, and an Andy Warhol painting is up for sale at $5 million, but a buyer is allowed to just by off the top right hand corner of the canvas for a hundred thou'"
Ah ok, so other people need to respect your wishes, but you don't 'care' to respect theirs? If you want to use a Warhol metaphor correctly you would say it's similar to going to an Andy Warhol exhibit and having to buy every painting in the room even if you only liked one. A song is a completed piece of art that fits in a greater context of an album. Even if it's part of a concept album.

"Apple, why are you helping the consumer destroy our canvas?"
Yes, lets blame Apple and the consumer, and not the boss that is pimping you out to fight Steve Jobs on this customer driven music retail revolution. Lets blame Steve for giving the people what they want, what they've been made to want through your boss' insistence that it's okay to sell those two hot tracks with the 8 crappy ones. What about making all ten songs so good that people want to have them? Ah JD, how disappointing. But soon you'll understand. Read JD's blog post here.

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Blogger Oh Word said...

ok so to continue my nitpicking that i already had begun over im.... aside from jazz records and other albums with non-singles on them.

i still think the blogcritic reviewer is going too far when she says sgt pepper is the first album made to be listened to in one piece... even if we just look at concept albums.. here's a wikipedia article with some earlier examples including a few 60s rock choices that were certainly well known in pop culture and came out before sgt pepper.


dope read though... definitely these guys are soldiering for universal right now and it's sad to see.

Anonymous dj.sae.one said...

AMEN! Edgar Bronfman said it great last week when he said "We went to war with the consumer, and lost." People are smarter than that. I doubt that JD is worrying how he's gonna "eat". The consumer is alot smarter and resourceful than these record companies think. We highly take offense to being niche marketed and undermined. We want good music and an easy platform and we will be happy and pay for it. I promise.

Anonymous Thaddeus Clark said...

For JD to actually express this opinion in public is embarrassing & pathetic. God forbid Lefsetz sees this.

Blogger bankhead said...

Rick Rubin said it best, record labels only want artist with 1 hit so they can sell ringtones & itunes. Record labels need to go back with just good music, JD should read Rubin's article and then think about the game again.

Blogger Undisputed Wes said...

ok so to continue my nitpicking that i already had begun over im.... aside from jazz records and other albums with non-singles on them.

You made an excellent point in our earlier discussion and I added something to the post to indicate I'm talking about Pop Music, the genre (right now Hip Hop and Rock and Emo etc. are pop, then Rock and Pop were Pop. etc.). Jazz was a niche genre, still is, so though I agree with you, I meant to only talk about mainstream popular music that sells in droves. Thanks for noting this.

And something similar should be said for the wikipedia entry, it notes that Sgt. Pepper wasn't the very first concept record, but it was the first one that mattered in a popular context if you will "This all changed with the Beatles' celebrated album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in June of 1967. With the release of 'Sergeant Pepper', the notion of the concept album came to the forefront of the popular and critical mind, with the earlier prototypes and examples from classic pop and other genres sometimes forgotten. The phrase entered the popular lexicon.

I should've made that more clear originally. Thank you

Blogger Oh Word said...


I read the Lefsetz response early this morning. He sends his posts out to the mailing list first. He also sends out the mails he gets in response just to the mailing list. I just learned that recently after seeing Lefetz's hilarious back and forth with Kid Rock on Idolator but not on the blog.

But yeah his indignant reply to JD will be up later I'm sure.

Anonymous Thaddeus Clark said...

Oh Word - I didn't realize Lefsetz's email goes out that far in advance...

Blogger MahoganyGirl.com said...

Jermaine doesn't have a clue.. Just like most of these executives.. He looks out of touch and out dated in his comments and next year he will probably lose his job.. and Doug won't give a shit about him...

Nice blog!


Anonymous G said...

i thought i was overreacting when i first read this and got so heated. glad to see other heads on the same page.


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