Universal cluelessness

I know it’s only marginally eMusic-related (though it does include a quote from David Pakman, as noted below), but I can’t help commenting on the recent Wired interview with Doug Morris of Universal (not yet online, but excerpted in a blog post on the New York Magazine site). Two points struck me in particular: First, the willful cluelessness of Morris and associates about technology and its effect on the music business; as New York Magazine notes, it’s like if your grandfather were accidentally hired to run Google. Second, Morris’s claim that the major labels are just poor innocent victims in all this, comparing them to Al Capp’s famous Shmoo:

The Shmoo was a nice animal, a nice fella, but if you were hungry, you just cut off a piece of him and put onions on it, …. You could do anything to him. That’s what was happening to the music business. Everybody was treating the music business like it was a Shmoo.

This was in turn followed by some hand-wringing about the the artists. Puh-lease.

Fortunately David Pakman turns up at the end to inject a note of sanity into the discussion, pointing out that Locking things up is actually good for piracy. I don’t think Pakman is a digital music genius (among other things, I don’t think he’s really clued into Web 2.0, social networks, etc.), but in this context he’s a giant among pygmies.

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