HITS Daily Double
"iTunes makes music disposable. It makes it a faceless impulse item. It steals its soul."


Tony Brummel Says iTunes Is the Enemy
With the much-anticipated Hawthorne Heights album, a potential #1 debut, streeting on Feb. 28, Victory RecordsTony Brummel, always an outspoken dude, felt it was time to explain his unwillingness to make any of his label’s music available in the iTunes Music Store. The following guest editorial represents Tony’s opinions and his only.

My thoughts on iTunes from the beginning (and why we are not in business with them):

1) Apple/iTunes do not care about independent labels or, for that matter, the record industry. Without the music industry, their site and their iPods are useless. Why did the major labels bend over and super serve Steve Jobs free content without negotiating a % of each iPod sale, variable pricing of singles (if the labels CHOOSE to make one available from an album) and other say in how the content is sold? Has anyone looked into any stock option kickbacks here? Since when do record companies give their content away without extracting an advance? If the major record companies wanted to take a stand they would PULL their content. But, if they all pulled their content in unison, Apple would claim collusion… I say, pull it anyway. The defective hard drives are making people deaf as it is.

2) I absolutely believe that allowing people to cherry-pick the tracks they want from each album cannibalizes full-length album sales and is ultimately detrimental to the artists who created the music.

3) If only 4% of this business is iTunes, who cares? Focus on the 96% which is traditional retail. Traditional retail supports music 1,000 times more than iTunes does. If someone does not want to leave their house, they can go to our webstore, Amazon or the hundreds of other online sites that sell music. For the very casual consumer. there are digital consumption models that will work when and if properly deployed. People are using iTunes because they like the iPod. When Dell or Samsung makes a better device, iTunes will lose relevancy.

4) It is important for people to experience the entire album. Not just a track(s). The artist went into the studio and created a body of work. If you were buying a painting from Picasso, would you have said, “Look Pablo. I like this painting man. But I only like that corner part with the tree and the guy’s finger. How about you chop off that corner and I give you $1 instead of $10 for the painting? Is that cool? I really do not care about the rest of what you were trying to convey in that piece of work.” The artwork, the lyrics, the sequencing of the album typically tell a very important story. It is a work of art! If people are being conditioned to not listen to albums in this way, they are nullifying the entire musical experience…at least in our genre as a rock label. As the owner of a label, my favorite tracks are never the singles! Often, it is the most esoteric songs on the album that have the most depth and meaning (musically and lyrically), and you typically are not exposed to that song until you have played the album through 15-20 times. Great songs take time to sink in and you have to be exposed to them in order to make that happen.

iTunes makes music disposable. It makes it a faceless impulse item. It steals its soul.

Aside from all of the above, I have and will never sign a deal with any company that tells me, “The deal is non-negotiable. Go to our site, download the Agreement, sign it and fax it to us. Everyone is paid the same amount (really…) and has the same terms. Regardless, we will not insert or include any Most Favored Nations language in the Agreement to back this up.”