Before I start, I feel I must stress that I am NOT one of these people who hates Apple products on principle. It will probably come across that I do, but rest assured I used to consider becoming an "Apple person" quite a lot- usually when someone would say "You should TOTALLY get a Mac, they are SOOOO much better than anything you have ever dreamed about using" and I would think "Wow, I love lording it over people, and these Apple lovers all lord it over me- I want to be a part of the underdog club too, then I can act superior".
I didn't however, I just see a computer as a computer- my work computers are a Macbook, Windows 98 (used to backdoor a DOS 4 only programme), Windows XP and Windows 7. At home I am all about Linux.
But how did Apple MURDER the music industry?
With the I-pod, of course.
See once upon a time when I was a child, if you wanted to take an album out on the road with you, you would use a cassette player. A Walkman- possibly the most important invention of the time (to 7 year olds, at least). This meant that either A-you were stuck with whatever albums you had on tape, or B- you had to record your own songs onto it from CD, record or radio.
The main 'problem' with the Walkman was the inability to skip tracks. CD had come along and spoiled us with the power to instantly skip anything that sounded a bit rubbish- with cassette you had to use the hit and miss tactic of pressing the fast forward button. As much as I griped about this as a youngster, it meant that if you were walking somewhere you would inevitably listen to the whole album- and as most cassettes were a maximum of 90 minutes long, you'd hear the same stuff multiple times. Songs that you would skip through if you could grew on you, basslines drum patterns and guitar effects that you would normally have bypassed would seep into your brain.
In fact, most people didn't use the skip function on the CD player too often, as they were elsewhere in the room and after you had put on your new CD you'd be off somewhere else and walking over to it to skip tracks was, well, an effort.
All that changed with the advent of mp3's. Computerising your music meant that they could be blasting in your face whilst you were right in front of it. Often watching somebody else getting blasted in the face.
Then the I-Pod came along and ruined the industry for ever.
With the ability to have hundreds, even thousands of tracks in your pocket comes the ability to lose entire collections of music in the time it takes to purchase them. If you have just paid for 3 new albums and loaded them onto your I-pod, chances are the next time you use it you will have it on random- therefore giving you a 30/8000 (figures not accurate) chance of hearing a new track. When one does come on, it will inevitably be some dreary album track that sounds a bit dull for the 30 seconds you hear it before skipping to the next song- hoping that it will be one you know already.
Obviously not all people are as musically jaded as I, but many are- next time a band you like releases an album the memories of the previous wasting money on music you didn't hear seeps back in, and you feel a bit resentful. You are less likely to seek out things you'd like as a result.
All this pales into comparison with the horror of breaking your I-pod. "Phew" you think, "Thank God I-tunes has all of my music stored in it". But then what if you can't afford a new Apple branded product this month? Well, my non-Apple phone plays all manner of musical formats so I can use that for a.... son of a bitch, my music is being held to ransom.
This fact alone makes me think illegally downloading music is acceptable. It's the wrong way to think, but I equate it to this-
Garden Centre: Hey man, wanna buy some plants?
Me: How much are they?
GC: Cheap, and we deliver them and plant them
Me: That is awesome, I'll buy a shedload
GC: Have you got one of our special allotments to put them in?
Me: No, I shall get one though as this seems like a GREAT DEAL
*a few weeks later*
Me: Hi, this allotment I bought is full of gypsies and they won't let me in. I want to look at all the plants I have paid for and I can't
GC: Sorry mate, you need to buy a new allotment
Me: But I already have a perfectly servicable garden, can't I use that?
GC: No. Fuck off
So I go out, and steal identical plants from somewhere else.
Very tortured metaphor, I know. But it's like paying a plumber to fix your taps, but they only work as long as he is in your kitchen
In the 90's it was a well known fact (to those that knew it well), that a touring band would be lucky to break even by the end of the tour. All of the money they made was essentially on loan from the evil middlemen of the music business. As soon as they stopped producing chartable CD's they were dropped like a stone, and had less income than they ever thought they would. Now the labels are chucking their music out on I-tunes, and the bands themselves are being paid less. This causes acts to overcharge horrendously for gig tickets, 10 years ago you could see a world conquering act at Wembley for £18-£25, now you're lucky to find tickets for less than £65 (plus extortionate booking fee). Even with inflation, this a too much of a jump.
You can argue that internet music is good, as it allows unsigned acts to get heard without ever having to slog their guts out honing their craft in a bid to get noticed. It also means that what is essentially dreary tripe can seep into the charts for one song, then disappear. By the time they have got together a touring band the world has moved on and they play a tour to crowds of dozing OAP's on bingo night. "But... I was number one" they (Sandi Thom) cry "Why does nobody care?!"
Because that was six months ago, and our I-pods are now full of NEW new music. You made your £376, spend it and be grateful.
It's not ALL Apples fault, but by making the mp3 player a desirable brand-named object, they have paved the way for the rest of the industry to treat music as ephemera. As long as you are listening to it on the right device, the content is not important. All the label men who used to make easy cash from struggling artists are trying to figure out how to keep their cushy jobs- and they are doing this by making easy cash from a string of new acts that require little or no attention. The really stupid ones who fall for the use of a limo and VIP invites can have a career as they can be dropped when the public tire of them- all their creative work are belong to someone else. Any act that questions the label can be told that illegal downloaders are ruining the industry so they get nothing. Go home.