From the Barstool of the Publisher – August, 2007


By Brian F. Johnson

A lot of people are talking about death in the music industry these days. “CDs are dead” is the new hip catch-phrase of the last two years. These days you can’t swing a dead Sony Discman without hitting someone who will proclaim that it’s a dead media.
Satellite radio is still relatively new, but the viral proliferation of iPods may be lumping it together with cassettes and eight-tracks, or at least AM-FM radio.
But the final nails may have been driven into the CD and satellite radio coffins earlier this month when Bob Lefsetz, an industry legend who writes a column for, re-iterated the statement in his “Lefsetz Letter.”
In his column, hysterically but appropriately titled “Blood on the Click Wheel,” Lefsetz said he was talking to his shrink, who had just gotten a new car equipped with free satellite radio. He asked his head doc how he liked it and he learned that since the car also came with an iPod jack, that the guy hadn’t even used it. “Satellite radio,” Lefsetz wrote, “is a boy band with a minor hit, never to be heard from again.”
Lefsetz explained that the reason iPod is so easily killing these mediums, seemingly with its eyes closed, is that the iPod does one of the most magnificent things since the remote control: “It gives us what we want, when we want it,” and it does so quickly and easily at that. “Napster wounded the CD, but the iPod killed it,” Lefsetz wrote.
Truer words aren’t often uttered.
And you know what? I might not even shed a tear when the CD and satellite radio are placed in the ground. I hopped on the bandwagon early with the iPod (when the 10GB model was twice the size of the current 80GB model), and the only time I’ve listened to a CD or radio since is when my iPod battery ran out, or when I forgot it at home. The times I have had to flip through radio stations, I’m appalled at how bad it is. I heard, like, 15 Eagles songs in one one-hour trip and that’s just completely unnecessary.
So I’m going to agree with Lefsetz that these mediums are dead, or at least very riddled with cancer, but I’m going to say that it’s not the iPod that’s doing them in. What’s doing them in is the same thing that’s causing death in other areas of the business: Failure to change. The programming directors that still allow the Eagles to be played 400 times a day, they’re the fuckers killing radio, satellite or otherwise. The labels that want to give you 12 songs, and no bonus material or DVD on an $18 purchase, they’re the fuckers killing the CD.
The iPod isn’t the Kevorkian of those mediums, it’s the blindfold we can use to avoid seeing the gruesome death — and sometimes avoiding gross things is the best thing you can do.
See you at the shows.

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