In a long, somewhat humanizing interview with Doug Morris, the UMG Chairman/CEO dismisses the promotional value of YouTube (and, apparently, everything else):
We don’t look at anything as promotion. Take a look at MTV. It turned out to be a disaster for us. We sold some records, but they built this huge company and we gave them our [music] for nothing, and what did we get?
Three years ago we were losing $7 million a year in the production of videos. One day I noticed that the videos were coming up on our computers . . . I said, “How much are we getting paid for this?” And the [answer was], “Nothing, they’re promotion.” And we called [Yahoo] and I said, “You’re making money off our videos and not paying us anything . . . we don’t want the promotion, we want to get paid.” And [they] said basically something like, “Over my dead body.” And we took all our videos down. As soon as our videos came down their viewership went down, because we’re about a third of all their videos. At some point we changed our video business from a deficit to a profit because we’re getting paid every time someone views one of our videos.
“We sold some records…” Oh, is that it? This, from the guy who famously said, “If you had Coca-Cola coming through the faucet in your kitchen, how much would you be willing to pay for Coca-Cola? There you go. That’s what happened to the record business.” Of course, people are more than willing to pay pay pay for the stuff that comes through the faucet in your kitchen: water, a $12 billion/year business.
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…
Never would’ve expected Universal to be the second major label to try selling (some) DRM-free digital files. UMG honcho Doug Morris is an crotchety bald prick who loathes customers who own MP3 players: “These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it.” So it’s a bit of a shocker that he’d free up his intellectual property like this.
Then again, he’s not doing it out of the kindness of his heart. He’s doing it because the major labels are desperate and sinking fast. And he fucking hates Apple. A source “close to the situation who did not want to be identified” talked to Billboard:
“We have no illusions that DRM can knock out all piracy. It’s a speed bump. The lack of interoperability specifically inhibits the growth of the market overall. This monopoly-like position Apple has—to dictate terms, to set prices, to limit the way we sell our music—no retailer should have that power. It’s not fair and it’s not good for healthy competition.”
Which explains why this limited DRM-free test won’t be available through iTunes…
Continue reading UMG Ditching (Some) DRM
Music’s money man: “Universal Music chairman-CEO Doug Morris earned E14.5 million (about $18 million) for 2005 — more than five times the E2.5 million that went to his boss, Vivendi toppertopper Jean-Bernard Levy.”