Rick Rubin, Columbia Music Exec, Says iTunes Doomed: Future Is Subscription Model

Would you trust this man with your iTunes?

I know you have nothing better to do on your Labor Day than to read a 10-page New York Times magazine article about some music executive with a beard’s (because he refuses to sell out to the man…) opinion on the music industry, and, what matters to us, iTunes and the iPod. It’s the kind of elitist article that Hannity would make fun of. I know, who would rather be barbecuing, watching TV, plain old doing nothing? So I’ll save you the trouble: the Columbia music exec with a dumb beard thinks the iPod and the iTunes model of purchasing music are dead.

Dead, presumably, like the music business he’s a part of.

Maybe you’ve heard of the guy. Rick Rubin, producer, man with a dumb beard. Ring a bell? Not for me it didn’t, but his shrill complaining—kids don’t listen to radio, they download music, word of mouth is important and we can’t advertise via word of mouth—certainly is familiar. And buddy, no one cares about the music industry’s problems. Cry me—us—a river. I’ve got soccer to watch and music to download.

To sum up beard guy (remember, he’s a “legendary” music producer, I’m sure in the same way that George Oscar Bluth is a legendary magician) and his so, so important opinion: the subscription model is the way to go and it’s the way of the future. Says the bearded guy:

You would subscribe to music…. You’d pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you’d like. In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere. The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home. You’ll say, ‘Today I want to listen to … Simon and Garfunkel,’ and there they are. The service can have demos, bootlegs, concerts, whatever context the artist wants to put out. And once that model is put into place, the industry will grow 10 times the size it is now

Sure, OK. The music industry can’t even get it up to where it’ll let us download DRM-free MP3s. But no: one day, we’ll have a pie in the sky system where music will be everywhere, free for the taking (once you’ve paid your $20). Right.

(Probably the only interesting thing the guy said is that the music companies need to get their act together or someone like Microsoft will swoop in, buy them out and change the industry by force.)

The remainder of the 10 pages is just fluffing the bearded guy’s ego. Feel free to skip that and drink A1 straight from the bottle.

The Music Man [New York Times via MAcNN]