Consumer Life

Superproducer Jermaine Dupri has a long-winded essay on Huffington Post about how Steve Jobs is killing music. The same complaint was made by others recently. It seems that that Mr. Dupri feels the consumer better buy the whole album or else. Singles, he claims, are pointless. So Jay-Z’s “American Gangster” (now available at fine bittorent sites worldwide) will not be sold at iTunes, because that means he’ll have to sell tracks piecemeal. Why do you insist on denying us your dollars? he continues, why do you think you’re free to enjoy what you want to enjoy? (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist.). Now, iTunes – Coincidentally as big as it is these days only because it’s the only legal download service so far that has actually fucking worked! – has proved that people are more than willing to pay for music they want. Which seems to indicate that – hey! – it’s not the death of commercial music after all! I do see how it might pose a problem for a stagnant music industry, though. These days it takes scores of producers and creators to piece together an album anodyne enough to have mass market appeal and sell big. I think “Say My Name”, the Desiny’s Child single, had something like seven writers. We’re talking about a song that’s three words long, people!

Besides, the pop industry was built on the back of the single. Part of the reason people don’t want to buy a full, overpriced CD these days is that they’re not worth it. You might get one, possibly two decent singles, but the rest is filler. I should add that I do respect the artists: I may not agree with the way they do business, but after all, it is their right to choose how their music is sold. As it is the right of the customer to disagree with that, and not support the artist and go elsewhere.

For better or worse, digital life has changed the entertainment industry. Has it benefited the consumer? Sure. I was happy to pick up, say, Mika’s “Grace Kelly” single for a buck at the iTunes store a while ago. It was what I wanted. If I wanted the whole album, I would have bought it. But the thing is, ten years ago, I would still only would have wanted the single. If I’d had to buy the whole thing, I most likely wouldn’t. I WOULD HAVE TAPED IT OFF THE RADIO!!!

Guys, what you fail to see is: consumers flock to iTunes (and Amazon), because they deliver what the customers want. Kill the single, what do you get? Not a dime more. What you WILL get is a hell of a lot more P2P illegal downloading. And you can take that to the bank (though it won’t help you with the mortgage). As I said, I do respect the artist, and I’m happy to support the artist for his troubles. But the invisible hand that’s been used to justify ripping off customers for decades is the same hand that just bitchslapped you.

UPDATE: According to Valleywag, it seems the iTunes store does allow artists to sell album-only music. So where’s the problem?

20.11.2007 • Permalink

iLife ‘08

Now, I really dig my new Macbook. It’s way faster than my old iBook and I can actually get work done at home again. I’ll try to defrag the iBook, though – a laptop for random travel can come in handy, after all. Now, the MB isn’t perfect. I’m startng to adjust to the larger size, though I still prefer the 12″-screen. Still, the xtra screen real estate ain’t bad.

Leopard has given me few hassles, since we’re on the subject. It seems solid and while I know from other sources that there’s stuff that doesn’t work all that well, I’m not affected by it yet. For a non-power user, it’s grand.

There are other small things I can’t get behind, such as losing bluetooth interactivity with the address book, for example. Updating to the new iLife ’08 was a pain Or at least the iPhoto bit was. All of a sudden, I had a library twice the size of my old one, with edited and unedited files and JPGs and RAW files, and…oh, dear. I’ve yet to sit down and try to sort it out. The library folder is now one giant file, too, which is a pain. You can open it and peek at the contents, of course, but what the hell’s the point? I opened and restored one such file from Time Machine, then it promptly closed the option. It’s weird. I know I did it, I just don’t know how to do it again. Maybe it was a freebie. Still, I’m not looking forward to organizing the photos all over again. “Events” are supposedly better than “rolls”, though I fail to see the difference. Digital ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. After I got myself a nice printer, I print out the ones I’m interested in and put them in a book. There’s something nice about the tactility of a photo, after all.

Anyway, I just felt like bitching. So here we are. Ain’t life grand?

19.11.2007 • Permalink

OK, this is apparently old news from last year, but still: Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s cult comic “Preacher” will finally make it to the small screen, courtesy of HBO, likely the only channel willing to deal with the series’ extreme violence and profanity. The story concerns a southern preacher imbued with the power of a creature named Genesis, the illicit spawn of Heaven and Hell. Like all southern preachers, he is good and just, and instead of hitting the motel circuit to score meth and male hookers with his newfound powers, he goes after God Himself to hold him to task for abandoning the world. Also, there’s guy named Arseface, the ghost of John Wayne, and one of the antagonists gets buggered by a sex detective in an alley in San Francisco. It makes a lot more sense if you just read it yourself. It’s a funny, violent and tasteless epic, which somehow also manages to be a thoughtful meditation on friendship and religion. And binge drinking. As a longtime reader and collector of “Preacher” and its various spin-offs, I just have to say: Be still my heart! But wait, it gets better: The pilot is to be written by the Mark Steven Johnson, the man who directed both “Daredevil” AND “Ghost Rider”, and the directorial duties will be assumed by Howard Deutch, who  directed “Grumpier old men”. I honestly can’t see anything going wrong here.

18.11.2007 • Permalink

OK, I’ve gone Leopard

I bought my new Macbook, which is awesome, except they updated the specs the day after, which is not as awesome, but I can live with it. If I waited to buy new tech until the latest stuff was released, I’d never have a computer in the first place.

10.11.2007 • Permalink