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BusinessWeek: The Chili Peppers’ Sour Grapes Over iTunes

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By Dennis Lloyd

Publisher, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2003
News Categories: Digital Media

“These guys call themselves rock musicians? Where, I ask you, is their sense of storming the Establishment ramparts, of thumbing their noses at authority? Instead, by refusing to let Apple (AAPL ) sell their music online at the new iTunes Music Store, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are leading a vanguard in the wrong direction. They might as well put their clothes back on.

In truth, opposition makes little sense. Even some execs from the biggest labels have signed on to iTunes. Says Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris, one of the album format’s inventors: ‘iTunes is pushing us into the future of how music is produced and consumed.’”

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Comments

1

This has already been said in other articles. And still I think it holds true that the only reason anyone talks about this is because of Lars Ulrich who commandeers their management company to make everyone do the same. The Chili Peppers don’t seem to even care about people downloading their songs off of Kazaa for FREE. They’re actual artists, and damn good ones at that!

Posted by zync on July 15, 2003 at 10:46 PM (PDT)

2

Also, why does it seem that this article only mentions the Chili Peppers? Because it basically DOES! This article is really biased. It makes no mention of the other “hold outs.”

Posted by zync on July 15, 2003 at 10:56 PM (PDT)

3

Who is this shill of a writer?  Because the Chili Peppers don’t want to give in and follow everyone, they’re not on the cutting edge.  Screw that.

And besides, what kind of artist really thinks “Hey, I’ll make 2 good songs and the rest will be filler.”  That’s a biggest copout people have been giving for way too long.  Just ignore the article

Posted by tetro on July 15, 2003 at 11:37 PM (PDT)

4

<img src=“http://www.businessweek.com/images/viewpoint/haddad.jpg”>

This guy knows what rock is because he lives the life of a rock star!

He knows that most artists make only 3 or 4 good songs and use filler for the rest.

Posted by tetro on July 15, 2003 at 11:41 PM (PDT)

5

My wife had an interesting point about the chili peppers & others taking this stand: if they really believe that everyone needs to buy the whole album and not individual songs, how come they release singles and allow individual songs to be played on the radio.  Do they mean once we start playing the album, we can’t turn it off and go on to other tasks until it’s completed?

Posted by domarch on July 16, 2003 at 3:12 AM (PDT)

6

My wife had an interesting point about the chili peppers & others taking this stand: if they really believe that everyone needs to buy the whole album and not individual songs, how come they release singles and allow individual songs to be played on the radio.  Do they mean once we start playing the album, we can’t turn it off and go on to other tasks until it’s completed?

Posted by domarch on July 16, 2003 at 3:13 AM (PDT)

7

I think somone said this in a previous thread, if these bands aren’t willing to give those consumers who only want to buy singualr tracks the optiion to do so, they will end up being the most pirated on kazaa and the like.  These bands are forgetting supply and demand.  Why make a stance like this? Artists sign recording contracts, and labels make money off album sales, so why do they care where the money comes from singles or albums, why bite the hand that wants to feed them?

Mike

Posted by mike on July 16, 2003 at 3:20 AM (PDT)

8

Do these bands not release cd singles with crappy b-side like almost every other band in the world?

What is the difference?

Posted by martin on July 16, 2003 at 6:34 AM (PDT)

9

The difference is Lars Ulrich being managed by the same company. That’s the difference.

Posted by zync on July 16, 2003 at 7:54 AM (PDT)

10

No,they don’t release CD singles,but then again, most artists don’t.This is something that the records companies have elected to do across the board,claiming,that by releasing the single “it cannibalized the sales of the album”. The only reason that you see videos of certain songs or hear them on the radio is because the companies have determined that this is a viable “promotional tool”.In short,it’s about ensuring that they will be able to sell the higher priced full length CD. Or if you prefer,it’s about GREED!!!
  I don’t think Lars Ullrich holds Q-Prime or it’s entire artists roster hostage,but I find it really interesting that these comments are coming from the same people (RHCP’s included)who owe a signifigant portion of the success that they currently enjoy to the release of commercial singles for “Enter Sandman,and “Under the Bridge”,as do most of the other artists who are adopting a similar stance with i-Tunes. Madonna is also someone who is taking the same stance,but the difference here is that she regularly releases singles. I just can’t quite comprehend her logic in not going the i-Tunes route.
  It would seem to me that for all the complaining that the RIAA and others do about having a “whole generation of people who believe that it’s okay to d/l songs and not pay for them…”,take a look at the part they played in this whole mess.It is one of the main reasons that P2P file sharing is so rampant. I could go on and on… .
In short,if you make your bed,lie in it and quit ########.

Posted by Christianicononev.2 on July 16, 2003 at 9:48 AM (PDT)

11

Chilis suck

Posted by Rob on July 16, 2003 at 2:44 PM (PDT)

12

Overall, the Chilis DO NOT suck. Lately, (meaning past few albums) they do suck. But that is beside the point. They just cant comprehend the logic that either way, their music WILL be downloaded. By not choosing to participate in i-tunes, the downloaders will go to kazaa and grokster and download from there.

Of course, its all about the money, not some sanctimonious pap about “not wanting to contribute to the demise of the rock album format”. Puhleez. Only when the Peppers or Metallica create entire albums that are worth listening, like OK Computer (or anything by Radiohead for that matter) can they have the right to say that.

O well, their shortsightedness will result in more losses from piracy for them. If downloaders have a choice between a legit, hassle-free crystal-clear and complete copy in i-tunes vs a dubious, crappy bit-rate, incomplete copy in kazaa, it is pretty obvious what they will choose. By witholding that choice from the consumer, theyre just opening theirselves up to more illegal downloads.

Cant wait to say “I told ya so.”

Posted by Reorx on July 16, 2003 at 6:30 PM (PDT)

13

I like the RHCP.  But when an artist says that they don’t want to contribute to a perfectly legal and profitable music distribution model like the iTunes store, all it says to me and I’m sure to many others, is that these bands know that most of the songs they put out are crap, while only a few are worth buying.  Which means they know that they’ll have to work harder at making more or all of their songs better, otherwise their profit will decline because people will only buy what’s good and ignore the rest.  No more having to pay for entire albums where two or three songs are great, and the other seven or eight are garbage.

I can understand why an artist wouldn’t want their music downloaded for free.  I wouldn’t want that either.  Who wants their music that they work so hard to create to be given away for free?  And despite what some people say, this does not cause people to run out and buy more.  Who would pay money for something they can get for free, unless the consumer just wants the jacket and lyrics, most of which you could probably download off the internet anyway?  But this isn’t about free downloads.  The iTunes store is about legal downloading where the bands profit and where consumers are provided with a more convenient method of obtaining the music they love.  This is the model that all artists should be embracing, not rejecting.  So why would the RHCP complain about this?  All it amounts to are bands that are lazy and scared and don’t want to work harder at their craft, but instead just want to shove their crap down everyone’s throat while making consumers pay for it, too.  They lack vision and courage.

This is the way of the future.  But it’s also now.  And this model is going to happen whether the opposers like it or not, because it makes sense.  There are people who are always going to be resistent to change, but what else is new?  It takes time for people to see the benefits to technological change, especially when it affects business models and demands that people get off of their butts and rethink things a bit.  But technology and convenience always win, and the few opposers can never stop the momentum simply because they lack vision or courage.

If Apple doesn’t do it, someone will.  Music downloading is inevitable.

Posted by Z on July 16, 2003 at 6:54 PM (PDT)

14

RHCP does not suck nor has it come to suck recently. They still kick ###….maybe you should pay more attention to their songs. I admit BTW had to be listened to a few times but once I learned the songs I loved the album just as much as Blood Sugar Sex Magik. And their recent concert in Orlando KICKED ###! It was one of the best I’ve been to. And BTW, the Peppers have consistently put out CDs where EVERY SINGLE song is not only good, but great, so I don’t think they have to worry about putting out filler songs.

“Of course, its all about the money, not some sanctimonious pap about “not wanting to contribute to the demise of the rock album format”. Puhleez. Only when the Peppers or Metallica create entire albums that are worth listening, like OK Computer (or anything by Radiohead for that matter) can they have the right to say that.”


The Peppers do have the right to say that because their CDs are GREAT. And there are NO filler songs. I’m not into Radiohead but I really doubt they are as good as the Peppers. RHCP have been making music FOREVER and have had many #1 hits. And I still say it doesn’t seem like the Peppers themselves really care about music downloading, in fact I’d be willing to bet that they like to see their songs DLed. They’re true artists and like to see their work admired. Besides, John is Jesus, just look at him.

“Who wants their music that they work so hard to create to be given away for free? And despite what some people say, this does not cause people to run out and buy more.”

I have actually purchased more CDs since the days of Napster than the days of pre-Napster. And HELLO? System of a Down wants theirs stuff downloaded. They even titled their latest CD “Steal this Album” and it looked like a burned CDR.

Posted by zync on July 16, 2003 at 7:55 PM (PDT)

15

About people buying more CD’s after downloading…  I’m curious… and I guess I don’t understand the motivation there.  The question is, what was it about Napster that caused you to go out and spend more money on the same albums that you downloaded?  Were the quality of the songs on Napster crappy?  Were you limited to the number of songs you could find off of any given album instead of having access to every song on the album?  Or was it for another reason?

I’ve never downloaded one song without paying for it, so I respect the concept of paying for my music.  But if I could legally download an album for free or just the songs I wanted and at good quality, I wouldn’t spend another dime on going out and buying the CD.  I’d just take the songs that I had downloaded and rip them to a blank $1 CD or load it onto my Ipod and that would be the end of it. 

Maybe people aren’t getting good quality encodings when file swapping or they aren’t finding all of the songs online that they want from an album, so it causes them to seek the only other alternative apart from physically borrowing a copy of the album from someone else and ripping it themselves - which would be just going out and buying it.  Other than that, what would be the motivation for buying any album when someone has a perfectly good copy of it’s songs on his or her computer, ready and waiting to burn to a CD or load onto an MP3 player however they want?  Because they wanted the album jacket?  And with that in mind, why would a band want a legion of people to download their songs for free?  What would they gain from that?  I don’t get it.  If I made music for a living, I’d want to know that I was making at least a dollar for every song I created.

Giving one item away for free to a few people in order to create word of mouth is one thing, but giving an entire album or even half of its songs away to anyone who wants it - potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of people or more just to create a bit of a buzz, from a fiscal standpoint, just doesn’t make any sense.

Besides, name one thing in this life that people would only want or need one copy of and that they would later pay for if they could get an exact replica of it or its contents for free.  Why would music be any exception?  Maybe a handful of people do this, but I have a hard time believing that the masses would.

Posted by Z on July 17, 2003 at 3:22 AM (PDT)

16

Everyone automatically assumes that its the artist’s greed that makes them withhold selling singles on itunes. 

That doesn’t make any sense. 

The artists, like everyone, realize that by selling singles, they would make even MORE profit by selling songs to those who, while they wouldn’t purchase a whole album, *would* buy maybe a song or two that they liked.

The reason these bands are withholding singles is because when you camp out in that studio for a couple months, you’re not just writing singles, you’re making an album.  And asking a real musician to cut that album into pieces and sell it is like asking an author to cut out the climax of the book and sell it, or just ripping Mona Lisa’s smile out and forgeting the rest of the picture.

I could understand it if some label-made teeny pop idol was pulling her tunes to get more money, but insulting a group who has been together for two decades HONESTLY at least TRYING to make good music (whether you like it or not, it should be respected) is shameful.

Posted by koolio on July 17, 2003 at 4:13 AM (PDT)

17

I left the RHCP behind long ago when they decided to be MTV stars…that would be around when Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released. They never recovered from the loss of Hillel nor matched the sheer fun and intensity of their first three albums.

They kicked a** in the old days, but now they are slow and dumb. Just like their decision to pass on iTunes. It seems that only the posers are too cool for iTunes!

Posted by reson8tor on July 17, 2003 at 10:43 AM (PDT)

18

Although I too, don’t think that greed plays a part in why a band would withhold songs from iTunes (I think it’s more laziness or lack of courage), no artist should feel as if they’re selling their songs or albums piece by piece just because they’re making them available online.

I’ve made an album before, so I can understand that in a limited respect, an album might be like presenting a story to some extent.  But I’ve also written short stories and created many pieces of artwork.  And an album really can’t be compared to a book or a piece of art.  A book needs all of its chapters to be coherent and make sense; each chapter relies on another.  A painting needs and relies on every part of the canvas to create a flow and to make sense.  But an album doesn’t need every song to make sense.  Songs don’t require each other to make sense.  Songs on an album cannot be directly compared to the chapters in a book or parts of a canvas - there are too many differences.  First of all, a book is read from beginning to end.  An album often times is not listened to that way.  Secondly, songs exist just fine on their own because unlike a chapter of a book or a chunk of canvas, each song is a story in and of itself.  Bands often sell singles and they all have single song videos on MTV, which not only proves this point, but is much like selling and presenting single chunks of their album at a time, anyway, instead of the whole enchilada.  And the analogy of removing the climax from a book or ripping a chunk of the canvas away from a painting, would be better compared to removing the chorus or a verse from an individual song, not removing a song from an album…...

Posted by Z on July 17, 2003 at 5:41 PM (PDT)

19

(Continued….)

........Because any band can make their entire album available online all at once just as easily as they do in stores, the issue of whether they can or can’t present their album as a whole online, really isn’t an issue in the first place.  They aren’t ripping chunks of their album away and selling them piece by piece or compromising their work.  They’re simply giving fans the ability to pay only for the songs they would listen to while not having to pay for the songs they’re going to ignore anyway whether they have to pay for the entire album or not.  Shouldn’t consumers/fans have the power to choose to pay only for what they want?  No band can reasonably think that every fan is going to like, pay attention to, or keep listening to every song that’s put out on any given album.  Fans aren’t gaining anything from the parts of the album they don’t like, so why should they have to pay for it?  For those that want the whole album, they could buy it just the same in its entirety online just as they would in a store, so no one is losing out.  So the whole artistic integrity thing isn’t truly the issue.  It’s fiscal.  And bands are really only harming themselves when they don’t broaden their horizons in providing more options to consumers by allowing them to download individual songs.

The only true difference between selling an album in the store and selling it online is simply a matter of whether or not you give your fans more control over what they buy and don’t buy.  All an artist can do is make what they want, present it, and hope people will like it and buy it.  But music should be sold in a way that benefits the consumer, too, not just the artist.

Posted by Z on July 17, 2003 at 5:42 PM (PDT)

20

I don’t really listen to the radio because it’s like listening to paint dry. Ditto for watching alot of the video networks. So I’ve turned to the internet. It seems to be the only place that I can be exposed to different genres and artists that fall outside of the “mainstream”. It’s because of most of these sites that I was able to find out about Coldplay,BRMC,Finch,and a lot of Dance Artists,to name a few. Because I liked what I heard, I went out and bought the CD’s or the Singles-both CD and Vinyl. By buying the music,I showed appreciation-with my wallet.
  I don’t download whole albums. I choose to buy whole albums. And believe it or not,the internet actually made shopping for music a fun experience again. I like the idea of getting all the packaging that comes with the CD’s too. How else do you find out who did what during the recording process?  I’m also one of those people who will buy singles from CD’s that I already own.
  On the flip, I’ve also had no other choice but to turn to the internet because there have been a lot of remixes that will NEVER see the light of day commercially,despite heavy demand from fans and record stores.
  On the other hand,I’ve bought albums that I wish to hell I hadn’t because they only had a handful of good cuts on them.
  I can only hope that artists like the RHCP change their mind. However, in the end,they have every right to decide what they want done with their music. But I would rather be able to buy a couple of tracks that I do like leigitimately,than not buy anything at all,or according to the RIAA,horror of horrors d/l them “illegally”-the d/l’s just might persuade me to buy the album.
And maybe,just maybe,it would give the labels a wake up call and remind them that music is much more than cramming garbage down the public’s throat,or ignoring whole segments of the record buying public .If they got that message,that might help bring the industry back from the road to ruin they put themselves on.
  On the subject of the RHCP and others not wanting to take part, I do get what they are saying. What I’m not feeling is,what does opting out of iTunes have to do with the quality of their music?
Call me naive…

Posted by Christianicononev.2 on July 17, 2003 at 7:05 PM (PDT)

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