Out of Touch CEO

Reading this Wired interview with Universal chief Doug Morris really brought the point home that the industry’s top brass have no idea how to bring the industry into the digital age.  It would be sad to watch if it wasn’t so maddening to witness.  The quote that really hit home for me:

There’s no one in the record company that’s a technologist. 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?

Perhaps Mr. Morris should take a walk over to his IT department to find all the technologists who have been completely ignored throughout the industry’s collapse. Unfortunately the tech guys aren’t considered a strategic part of the business, and Mr. Morris’s comments underscore the fact that the executives are so scared of technology that they don’t engage that part of the staff.  And the industry continues making bonehead choices and complaining that there’s nobody to help give them good advice.

Instead they invite snake oil salesmen who cater to every wish the execs come up with: protect the content, get us paid for any possible use, or find a way to save the disc. But snake oil is always worthless, no matter how it’s spun to marketing types who don’t grasp the underlying tech. Even worse, when these types of initiatives hit the market place, the industry further alienates paying customers while not meeting their own objectives. Unfortunately, this Wired piece does nothing to make Mr. Morris look enlightened in the face of change, despite Universal’s new approaches this year.

And to be honest, the new approaches aren’t enlightened by any real degree. As Wired notes, DRM-free downloads are being used to try and bludgeon the iTunes hegemony rather than capitulating to demand.  Wired further mentions Mr. Morris’s Total Music initiative, which essentially would create any alternative ecosystem to the iPod+iTunes where the key difference is music rental rather than file ownership.  In the chance that Total Music does take off, how many people really believe Amazon’s MP3 store will continue?

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~ by Som on November 27, 2007.

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