BusinessWeek: The Chili Peppers’ Sour Grapes Over iTunes | iLounge News


BusinessWeek: The Chili Peppers’ Sour Grapes Over iTunes

“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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You made some good points that I agree with.  But that’s OK, you can be naive… just kidding.

Opting out of iTunes may not have anything to do with the quality of an artist’s music.  But as far as what I was saying, I wasn’t trying to only focus in on the RHCP, but rather suggested that opting out could have something to do with quality in general, because as you pointed out, there are albums out there that only have a handful of songs that are good with the rest crap.

Selling an album traditionally means that people pay full price for the album whether or not half the songs on it are garbage or filler, just to get the songs they do want.  But selling the same album online where people could download the songs individually, would not yield the same profit margin because people would only be paying for the good stuff, not the garbage.  Selling music online in this fashion would demand that artists work harder at their craft if they want to maintain the same profit margins.  Not to focus on any particular artist, but everyone knows that there are too many artists out there these days who write only a few good songs and then get lazy on the rest and expect people to pay full price for the album.  For artists who would fall into this category, selling online wouldn’t allow them to be lazy anymore and still maintain the same income.

So beyond that reasoning, why wouldn’t an artist want to sell online?  If their music is so good, what would be the advantage to opting out?  Legitimate online sales like you’d find at the iTunes store, for many reasons, would only mean more money in their pocket.

If record companies and artists chose to sell online, they could just as easily make their album jackets and inserts available online, too.

But artists do have a right to do with their music as they choose… so long as the record companies don’t dictate what they can and can’t do, which in many cases they can, do, and have the power to.

I hope, too, that all record companies and artists see the advantage of online sales.  Everybody has something to gain from it.

Posted by Z on July 18, 2003 at 9:33 AM (CDT)


Many are probably too young to remember, but before the Beatles, pretty much no one ever released an “LP”  Most groups just recorded singles, the Beach Boys being but one example.  “LP” were, in part dreamed up my music execs looking to chisel out a few more dollars.  RHCP are going in the wrong direction.  Their hard-core fans will always buy the entire opus.  Others will choose to only buy a single here and there. On balance RHCP will win artistically and financially.

Posted by Obadiah on July 18, 2003 at 1:31 PM (CDT)


Well… that’s TRUE… but it’s also because not to long before the beatles, everyone was using 45 rpm discs which could only hold 8 minutes per side… and unless you’re a punk rocker… it’d be hard to fit an “album” into 16 minutes.

Posted by koolio on July 18, 2003 at 2:31 PM (CDT)


Good points all around.

Posted by Christianicononev.2 on July 18, 2003 at 8:41 PM (CDT)


Sorry to post again,but actually,Z,thanks for the clarification. You gave me some food for thought. It also put me in mind of some interviews I’ve read where artists trot out the tired cliche"I wanted to make an album without filler…”. You can guess the outcome with some of them.Yeeech! And thanks to Koolio and Obadiah,too-these were good brush-ups.

Posted by Christianicononev.2 on July 18, 2003 at 9:01 PM (CDT)



I’m eager to try out the iTS, but Win users have to wait til later this year.  Maybe RHCP and many others will be onboard by then.  Til that time… tick, tock, tick, tock…

Posted by Z on July 18, 2003 at 11:18 PM (CDT)


Think about it this way. You’re The Red Hot Chili Peppers. You’ve been playing music for around 3 decades and you have plenty of awards to tell you you put out great music. There’s a big problem with putting your music on the internet for sale in single-track form. New fans are harder to come by. You notice if you have as many of their CDs as I do that the people who say they “suck” now are the people that either bought the newer albums and didn’t listen to it much or downloaded it off the internet and said this is crap. In truth, they’ve only gotten better. If one buys the entire CD they’ll come to realize that it’s not just the one or two singles they’d buy from iTMS but all of the songs. But that won’t be the case. Their songs have meaning and it won’t be expressed in three singles.

Z, giving albums online for free shows that the artist is about the music and not about the money. And you know what? I only buy CDs where that is apparent to me. Case in point. I already had all of then Incubus’ now incubus’ S.C.I.E.N.C.E. album DLed but just yesterday I went out and bought it. 1. I love the band and they’re about the music. 2. I have this fear that no one who actualy rips CDs can do it other than myself and a few people I know because I don’t understand how you can possibly mess it up. And BTW there are books that have individual chapters that tell a story but the chapters also make up a story. Case in point: Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. But the point is not that you can’t remove chapters in the book but you can remove tracks. If you don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle the broader message of the album is lost.

Christian, that’s a big part of my downloads. Where else can I get Irish Jigs, Russian Techno and Pop, Arabic Dance, and various other sorts of music residing in my library?

Posted by zync on July 19, 2003 at 3:30 PM (CDT)


Hell, if it weren’t for the internet, I wouldn’t know that Bunka WASN’T Paul Oakenfold’s debut album as they tried to say but possibly his American debut. That kind of thing pisses me off.

Posted by zync on July 19, 2003 at 3:31 PM (CDT)


Zync, I’m not exactly sure if I’m following all of your points.  But I will say this…  I think most poeple who make music for a living are probably about the music.  I haven’t heard of many artists that just kinda stumbled into a music career by chance and started making millions of dollars to boot.  Being able to do something you love like that while getting paid for it means you LOVE the music because you must work hard to develop a career like the RHCP have, and if you don’t love the music, you aren’t going to have the drive necessary to succeed.  (But even with drive, we also know that many artists can become lazy later on, not that this is necessarily the case with the RHCP, but this last statement is a generalization and another conversation altogether).

I also believe that all artists who are at the level the RHCP are at, are also about the money as well.  If they weren’t, then why would they have agreed to massive record contracts which they renew time and time again and to commercializing themselves?  No one put a gun to their heads.  As with the RHCP, they may have started out underground, but are hardly that now.  With their commercial success, I think it’s safe to say that they care about money.

I think all artists are about their music AND the money.  An artist who isn’t about their music, doesn’t have passion, and most likely doesn’t have much talent and shouldn’t be wasting their time in the first place.  Who would waste their time listening to someone like that anyway?... but I digress.  Everyone wants to make money.  Everyone has bills to pay.  And because you have to put food on the table, why not get rich in the process if the opportunity presents itself?.........

Posted by Z on July 20, 2003 at 6:59 AM (CDT)


(Continued…  Sorry I have to break this up, but it’s the only way I can post it.)

.........I think there are artists out there who are underground, who may not want to commercialize themselves because in those circles, if you do, you become uncool.  But those same artists are no different than you and me in the way that they won’t say no to the paper.  When’s the last time you daydreamt about being broke?  I doubt they do either.  Everyone would be rich if they could.  All artists want money.  As for most artists who never “make it” and become wealthy, you could probably bank on the fact that it wasn’t because they cared less about the money than their music, but rather that they didn’t have the drive or the talent or the connections, or all or a combination of those things necessary to reach whatever level they’re shooting for.  In the meantime, they just plug along like all local artists, investing every dime they have into making albums and landing gigs wherever they can, spending more than they take in, and doing their best to make something of their craft.  But don’t fool yourself into thinking that that means they don’t want money.  Artists that put as much effort as it takes in traveling around, touring however they can, making albums, promoting themselves, etc., etc., are not just doing it for their health.  They’re doing it because they want to make a good living at it…........

Posted by Z on July 20, 2003 at 7:03 AM (CDT)



.........I’ve seen many artists who say they don’t want to go national, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be financially successful.  They talk about not wanting the pressures that a national career would demand of them, or that they don’t want their art to be churned into some “Top 40” mush, but I’ve never heard (and will probably go the rest of my life never hearing) that they don’t want to go national because “they just don’t want to make that much money”.  Yeah, right.  Anyone with a heartbeat would want to make that kind of money.  Just because you go national,  doesn’t mean that your music turns to crap.  What do think the chances would be that a local artist who doesn’t wish to take their craft all the way to that level, probably has many fears and misconceptions about that kind of a professional music career?  Just like many things, it’s one thing to sit around and wonder what a music career at a national level would be like; it would be another thing altogether to actually have one.  Many of those artists, if truly given the chance, would jump at the opportunity to distinguish their career and make a name for themselves on that level.  I know that there are exceptions to every rule here and there, but I’m talking about the vast majority of true artists that have real passion for their art and want to make a life out of it, not music hobbyists or those using music only as a vehicle for their vices.

I think if you decide you’re only going to buy music from artists who you somehow gauge don’t care much about financial success, I think you’re really limiting yourself and missing out on a lot of great music.  Because it’s possible for talented people to care both about music and money - there’s an almost unlimited amount of artists out there who fit this profile and prove this point.  An artist’s desire to become financially wealthy doesn’t automatically mean they don’t make good music or don’t make good decisions about their music.  But on the other end of the coin, just because an artist lacks the desire to become wealthy, doesn’t automatically mean that their music is better.  Besides, truth be known, I think that most of the music people listen to, whether they realize it or not, is by artists who love their music, AND love their money.  Even artists at regional and local levels…....

Posted by Z on July 20, 2003 at 7:04 AM (CDT)


(Continued….  Yeah, I know, long winded, I should write a book, bla, bla, bla.  Last part…)

..........Giving away albums doesn’t necessarily mean that an artist is more about their music than the money.  It may just simply mean that they’re stupid about money.  Why wouldn’t anyone want to get paid for something they did?  When’s the last time you worked for free?  Everyone has bills to pay.  You might see local artists who aren’t making that much money, if any, give their work away for free, because if they aren’t making much money in the first place, they may not have anything to lose by giving some of their music away.  But you’ll never see artists at professional levels like the RHCP give their music away for free.  At that level, it’s just not done.  Maybe they know something we don’t.

Posted by Z on July 20, 2003 at 7:05 AM (CDT)


Again I say System of a Down (a great high-level professional band) doesn’t care if they get downloaded. Why? They already have their money. Also, I have only been speaking of a few artists, and not the vast majority, but on the contrary do the vast majority of musicians make music that really makes you think? No. I don’t limit myself to only listening to bands I deem worthy, I listen to an incredible amount of artists. In fact I’m listening to Otis Redding right now. How many college students do you think listen to or even know who Otis Redding is? I only buy the artists I can completely respect. I never said that artists shouldn’t care about getting money, I said that it should not be their focus. The Chili Peppers don’t make music simply for the money. I’m an artist. I don’t only make it for money, if I could sell enough pieces that I’d be able to make a living out of it that’d kick ass but I wouldn’t do it to get rich. Sure that’d be a nice side effect, nearly anyone would want that, but it should not be their goal. That is the major aim for many artists and their music comes second to that, and it shows. My point is that music is a form or art and it should be treated in the same way. No one in any of my circles respects artists who create PURELY for money. My friend and I would like to be in a band (he’s an excellent drummer and I wanna learn bass, or regular guitar and do vocals and write) and we’d be perfectly content to create music for people to hear. We’d love to become rich off of it, but that’s not our intention. See what I’m saying? Ars artis gratia. You should make music to for expression not to satisfy a goal of becoming rich. That’s just ripping people off.

Posted by zync on July 20, 2003 at 9:56 PM (CDT)


BTW I wasn’t implying that Otis Redding doesn’t make music that makes you think or whatever….he’s an INCREDIBLE musician!

Posted by zync on July 20, 2003 at 9:58 PM (CDT)


By the way, I hope you don’t mind us bantering back and forth a bit…  it’s all good food for thought :)

I hear ya, and I agree that money shouldn’t be an artist’s ONLY focus (and I’ve never thought that RHCP’s ONLY focus was money).  You hadn’t made your point about that clear the first time around, otherwise I may have taken my words a slightly different direction, but I understand what you’re saying now regarding that, and I agree with you.  But as a point of interest and some clarification, as I mentioned before, although artists may not focus ONLY on money, you better believe that they all have a strong focus on it for one reason or another.  I think that when I was making some of my earlier points, I came across as only talking about artists focusing on money merely because they want to get rich.  But I was only using that as one example of how I believe artists focus on money.  I wasn’t suggesting that artists should or do make music simply for the goal of becoming rich.  As I’m sure we all know, there are other reasons why most or all of them focus on making money:  record companies who demand certain profit levels and the responsibilities that go along with that; big bills to pay - bills the average person doesn’t have; and the never-ending costs required to seriously pursue their craft, tour, pay for studio time, promote themselves, and make a living at it.  Although serious unknown and professional artists love their music first which would be why they would make music their vehicle for making a living in the first place, they’re highly driven by the dollar, not just because the thought of money and becoming wealthy is nice, as it is to all of us, but first and foremost because it’s a business (not just a regular job) and there’s always a bottom line and a lot of people to pay, otherwise, it would be pursued more of a hobby than anything else…....

Posted by Z on July 22, 2003 at 1:12 AM (CDT)


(Continued….. yeah, I know, I love the long responses…)

.........On the flipside, when you’re talking about artists that pursue music only for the money, I don’t know how an artist could maintain a music career at a professional level, or even develop it in the first place for that matter, while having money as their ONLY focus, so it’s hard for me to believe that professional artists out there truly care more about money than their music, although I can believe that they care about both equally.  Once again, although there are exceptions, as is the case with all disciplines of art, if money was an artist’s only focus, their art would truly suffer and they wouldn’t last.  And in terms of music, I’m not talking about one-hit-wonders (who cares about them), or artists with very short careers, but my focus here has always been on successful, longer lasting artists.  Just out of curiosity - which professional artists do you think only focus on money?

I don’t hear many artists these days talking ONLY about making money or talking more about money than the music, except for Gene Simmons from KISS, and if you hear him talk, it’s clear he has a serious love for riches.  But even so, he’s been wildly successful musically and millions of people loved that band.  I guess the question with him would be, was money his motivation for becoming a professional musician in the first place and did he maintain that attitude throughout his career?  If so, then his behavior might go against a couple of the points both you and myself have made on one level or another.  Then again, maybe this would affect a band differently than it would a solo artist…  that’s a lot to think about.

I hear you now when you say that you were only talking, not about the vast majority of artists, but only a few, when making your points.  I guess you and I have been talking about slightly different things, then.  Because the points I’ve make were based on the behaviors that I see most successful artists out there adopt.  There are always going to be artists that break the mold in regards to how they do things, for whatever reasons.  But if that was your main point from the beginning, then I hear ya, and I agree.  Otherwise, we’re not being very productive here, lol…...

Posted by Z on July 22, 2003 at 1:14 AM (CDT)



.............I’m not familiar with System of a Down, but regardless, that’s only one band.  Still, because I don’t see many bands giving their music (not just one song, but much of their music) away for free - and since this isn’t the popular thing to do even for bands that have literally mountains of cash, I’m incredibly curious as to why any band would.  I haven’t heard any truly compelling reasons for that, so far.  The idea that they give away their music simply because they’ve made money in the past and because of that, they may not be as concerned with making profit these days as they were before, doesn’t hold a lot of water to me.  The money they’ve made will run out at some point, and then what?  Out of curiosity, how is it you know exactly that this particular band isn’t concerned about giving away their music simply because they’ve already made a certain amount of money?  Is this what they’ve communicated?  Were they planning on only making a designated amount and then working for free or generating spotty profit margins after that?  I don’t get it.  If their music is so good, they’d know that people would gladly pay for it, and then why would they be compelled to give it away at all?  That isn’t smart to me from a business standpoint, but whatever.  Each to his own.  Of course, this is based on my understanding that they’re giving away much of their music or entire albums, not just one song off of an album in an effort to promote themselves.

I think it’s great that you have a large variety of artists that you listen to.  I always believe people are far more enriched by exposing themselves to many different genres.  As far as music that makes you think… well, that’s another topic altogether…......

Posted by Z on July 22, 2003 at 1:15 AM (CDT)



............When you say that there are artists out there who are putting money first and at the expense of good music, I wonder if this is a valid argument?  If you suspect that the artists you don’t prefer aren’t making good music due to their desire for riches, maybe that’s not the case.  First of all, apart from interviewing these people ourselves or hearing it come out of there own mouths on TV, radio, or in print, how could you verify that they’re only in the music business for the money?  Maybe it’s not that an artist’s desire for riches is what causes them to make what you would peg as poor or less than great music.  Maybe an artists’ efforts leave much to be desired simply because they aren’t too talented in the first place.  Or maybe it’s simply because you don’t take a liking to a particular genre of music or a particular artist’s music within that genre, while many others do.  Not that I would assume to know you, of course, but perhaps you’re more the type that has an overall dislike or disgust of commerialization (I’ve known many people like this); perhaps you have set certain thresholds in your mind as to what is acceptable and not acceptable in terms of this, and if you suspect an artist has passed this threshold, you take it to mean that they’re only selling themselves out and not spending as much effort as they could to make good music.  And certainly this would affect whether or not and how much or how little you respect them.  To make a point, I’ll choose an easy target:  there are many people who can’t stand Christina Aguilera, but there are just as many (including adults) who do.  It would be easy to think she’s sold herself out for money and that her music isn’t any good.  But her record sales speak otherwise.  Although I don’t personally own one of her records, they aren’t purchased only by young girls.  There are many adults who buy her music.  I think sometimes it’s easy for us (and we’ve all been guilty of this at some point) to imagine that an artist’s primary or intial motivations are anything but artistic acheivement, but apart from unsubstantiated conjecture, our runaway imaginations, and media BS, how can we verify this?

But being an artist myself, I completely understand what you’re saying and agree that art should first be for expression.  I’ve always said that anyone who attempts to create art purely for money can’t call themselves an artist in the first place…....

Posted by Z on July 22, 2003 at 1:16 AM (CDT)


(Continued….. last part… still with me? LOL.)

...........This subject matter is a beast to say the least.  It’s difficult to sum up an industry where many people have different combinations of motivations, attitudes, goals, and personal issues beyond that.  Always interesting to hear different perspectives, though. :)

And yeah, Otis definitely has his moments.  “These Arms Of Mine” - now there’s a song you slow dance to.  Some of the best music stems from the sixties and seventies.  Check out Marvin Gaye :)

Posted by Z on July 22, 2003 at 1:17 AM (CDT)


Yes some of the best music does stem from the sixties and seventies…I mean Hendrix to say the least….well more like the most :) Yes, I do agree with you as well, fro the most part. I am not one of those people that hate commercialization. I actually have a dislike for people who like to say that bands sell out. In my opinion bands only sell out when they make great music and then take in too much fame and decide to live off their fame to sell subsequent CDs. To make a point there are certain rappers that are all about the money, otherwise why would you show 10 Bentley’s and Escalades in your videos? There’s no obvious point to this, as Marilyn Manson gives a laugh with in his “Tainted Love” video (another great song from the “oldies” era). This is not to say that I hate rap. I actually like it, as well as many other things. I’m the kind of person who likes to reserve judgement.

Posted by zync on July 22, 2003 at 3:46 AM (CDT)

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