Living through the Napster debacle it was hard to imagine that the music industry could have been any more clueless than they appeared to be. But it turned out they were, and they still are:
When Morris is asked why the music business didn’t work harder, in the early days of file-sharing, to build its own (legal) online presence, there’s this exchange:
“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?”
Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person ? anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.”
Even though we shouldn’t be, we’re actually a little shocked. We’d always assumed the labels had met with a team of technology experts in the late nineties and ignored their advice, but it turns out they never even got that far ? they didn’t even try! Understanding the Internet certainly isn’t easy ? especially for an industry run by a bunch of technology-averse sexagenarians ? but it’s definitely not impossible. The original Napster hit its peak in 1999 ? kids born since then have hacked into CIA computers. Surely it wouldn’t have taken someone at Universal more than a month or two to learn enough about the Internet to know who to call to answer a few questions. They didn’t even have any geeky interns? We give this industry six months to live.
Whether it’s for better or worse, new technology always presents an opportunity for change. It’s something you have to deal with, and for the right person it can be an exciting and fun way to spend your days.
These guys obviously decided that the best thing to do in the face of change is to stick your head in the sand, and then sue everyone who dares to tap you on the shoulder and ask you what the hell you’re doing.