Universal Music Group’s CEO Doug Morris talks to Wired and admits he doesn’t know anything (or care) about technology.
Morris insists there wasn’t a thing he or anyone else could have done differently. “There’s no one in the record company that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”
Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.” Morris’ almost willful cluelessness is telling. “He wasn’t prepared for a business that was going to be so totally disrupted by technology,” says a longtime industry insider who has worked with Morris. “He just doesn’t have that kind of mind.”
Two responses to this. One is from former Reprise Records president Howie Klein: How To Destroy A Profitable Industry In Just A Few Easy Steps wherein he claims to have presented a pre-iTunes app to Warners only to have it shot down by the “technology people Morris was complaining about.” The other response is from a former major label employee “at the bottom” who says it’s the organizational structure of the industry that prevents the young lackeys who have a clue from having a positive impact on the business.
All three are worth reading. The overall vibe is surprisingly hopeless. Everybody seems to accept the idea that the industry fucked up and is now doomed. This is something we’ve been saying for years, but to hear it from people like Morris and Klein is a little disconcerting…