Universal Music CEO

02007-11-27 | Copyright, Music | 9 comments

Universal Music CEO: Record industry can’t tell when geeks are lying to us about technology
“There’s no one in the record industry that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “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?”
(Via BoingBoing)

It’s easy to make fun of a guy like this and I am sure the net will be abuzz with that. But the fact is that any industry, any business hit with a paradigm change like the one experinced by the music industry will take a long time to recover. Just imagine Google if advetising were to be outlawed…

Since the beginning of time, if you borrowed something from me, I didn’t have access to that until you brought it back. That is true for flintstones and hammers and iPods. Well, are there exceptions?

I can think of fire. If I lend you fire, give you a burning twig, my fire is still burning. Knowledge – if you ask me something and I give you an answer we now both have that knowledge. I think we won’t come up with many great examples, because it just is not the way things work out side the digital realm, is it?


  1. Franklyn

    Ottmar agreed but the industry still has a chance to react but somehow it
    still wants to fight the tide.

  2. ottmar

    @Franklyn: Of course they do. That’s all they know. The file-sharers are just as guilty as the industry. Both extremes are wrong.

  3. Franklyn

    Once again I agree with your new point but the file-sharers are not as tangible an entity
    as the labels and ultimately this technology is not going away so since we cannot put a face to file-sharers, isn’t it in the industry’s best interest to start evolving even if late.

  4. David

    Yes, Doug Morris does sound somewhat clueless in that interview. But in his defense, I haven’t heard of any other music biz execs or others in general with the solution to the current piracy problem.

    I don’t understand how anybody can attack or blame the music industry for the theft of music.

    Unfortunately, everybody is hurt by piracy. When songwriters don’t get paid, artists don’t get paid and labels don’t get paid the evolution of new music will slow down and the quality of music will diminish.

    This in turn will affect music fans with much higher prices for concert tickets (specifically established artists) and less new good music and artists to enjoy.

    This reminds me of what my Dad used to say “What goes around, comes around”. I always wanted to quote my Dad hee hee.

  5. steve

    But why would the labels be in the position they are?

    Well, Mr. Robert Fripp puts it best, though commenting on another topic, this quote is quite on point regarding decisions made:

    “Have I mentioned this before? – major labels are short-termist, privilege their own narrowly-defined interests, (mostly) distrust & dislike their artists, and stupid.”

    -Robert Fripp

  6. Andrew

    “I think we won’t come up with many great examples…”

    Interesting phrase. There may not be “many great examples”, but fire and knowledge, aren’t those “The Great Examples”? I mean, what has meant more to us as a species than fire and knowledge?

    I don’t really have a point, just though it was interesting!

  7. David


    yes, the record companies are guilty of ridiculously “skewd to the their favor” contracts with artists. I also read an article a few years ago that mentioned the major record companies being found guilty by a US court for price fixing in the 90s. These labels certainly aren’t Angels. They are guilty of acting without integrity at times (like many companies in the business world).

    I don’t believe this is why the labels/music industry are losing money. I don’t think it’s the uprising of the little people fighting the system that has for so long oppressed them. It is much more simple than that:

    If people can get something for nothing, some people will take it. Unfortunately, this hurts everybody.

    There are ways artists and labels can make file sharing work in their favor. I am already seeing a few artists doing it.

  8. steve

    David …

    I think the most prescient point in Mr. Fripp’s quote is the phrase:

    “…major labels are short-termist…”

    I think that sums up much of the problem with the music industry, and, to a large extent, I think it is a dominant characteristic of many American businesses irrespective of market segment.

    If all you are doing is looking at the next quarter’s numbers, and not engaging in any long/medium -term planning, OR R&D, then you WILL be in a position where you, “don’t know what to do…” when the market changes.

    This change didn’t happen overnight. Peer-to-peer network technology has existed since 1969, and the type of onerous technology that is causing all the hand-wringing has been around at least since 1999. That was EIGHT years ago …

    “Didn’t know what to do” indeed… pure incompetence …

  9. David


    I see your point.

    But how does any industry deal with massive, basically overnight theft of their product? litigation has failed. technology has failed. It’s hard to plan when there is currently no rational and effective solution to the problem.

    Inevitably as governments start to regulate the internet more and technologies expand….illegal file sharing will be greatly reduced if not almost eliminated.

    If the music industry can sustain until this happens, everything will go back to “business as usual”.


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