Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dear Dumb Asses

Hey! Sony-BMG! EMI! Universal! Warner! All of you frigging retards pay attention for a few minutes and I'll tell you – right here – how to take back that nasty old money from Apple.

Ready? Take good notes there'll be a quiz. If you flunk, you're outta here. Toast. You know – bankrupt.

1. Get together and do this as a team. As long as you guys keep trying to go it alone, you are – not to put too fine a point on it – fucked.

2. Agree on a price structure that makes sense. Not to you; to the people who you want to buy the music. It doesn't matter if it's cheaper or more expensive than Apple; it just has to make sense to the rank and file music purchaser. If you want to know how not to do pricing, go ask Microsoft about the success of that weird-ass system they have for the Zune.

3. Put everything (do you understand the concept of "everything?") up for sale all at once. Every album by every artist since Edison recorded farts; from Frank Sinatra to Frank and the Beans. If you have a recording of your dog barking, make an mp3 and sell it. If it's on an LP, EP, 78, 45, cassette, 8-Track, or reel-to-reel, get it in the digital music store. Sift through the lint in the back of your sock drawer. Don't leave anything out.

4. Hire some high dollar developers. Build a music store that's easy and intuitive to search and download from. Reduce the mouse clicks and keystrokes per transaction to the absolute minimum. Make the interface so easy that even you can operate it, like iTunes is.

5. Stop running around accusing everybody of being a thief. We all aren't pirating your precious soundtracks. In fact piracy is the habit of the minority of music downloaders. Most of us like believing we're honest. Apple gets that. Until you do, you just can't beat them. If you honestly believe we're all ripping you off, get therapy. You're dicked up pretty bad.

Those steps are not prioritized. Every one of them is critical. You'll have to accomplish all of them and do them all very well to stay in the game. Fail to accomplish any one, and the rest don't matter: Apple wins.

In case you're wondering the hit and miss selection on Amazon had better improve really quick. Right now the selection alone makes it a non-starter. They might sell some tracks on price, to people who care about price. They might sell to some people who really care about DRM.

The iTunes store locks me into an iPod if I use the iTunes store for my tracks. I have about 100 songs from the iTunes store, no big. 70-something percent of the mp3 players in use are iPods. So we don't really notice the restriction. The DRM is invisible to most of us. The price is pretty invisible to us. It's a buck or two a month on the Visa bill.

So what do you have left to try and offer? Massive selection, a comparable or better interface, and a pricing and DRM structure that is at least no worse.

Personally, I think you won't get #1 done before it's waaaaaaaay too late. And I don't think you have balls enough to put it all out there at once. Steve Jobs does. That's why he's kicking your weeny asses.

Somebody answer the phone.