Op-Ed: Dead – By Bob Lefsetz


Did you see that story in the "Sunday Times" entitled "Music giants rush to save HMV"?

Ain't that the entertainment business, always with one foot in the past, propping up that which is going under.

They don't even listen to their own artists, what did Bob Dylan so famously say, "He not busy being born is busy dying"?

If your main goal in propping up physical retail is to aid in negotiations with iTunes, Amazon and supermarkets, you're probably buying Best Buy stock and working on jamming cell signals inside so people can't "showroom."

Just like an addicted gambler, the entertainment companies can't walk away from a losing hand. Yup, HMV closes so they get stiffed. How long did it take them to get rid of their CD pressing plants?

This movie is going to streaming.

I'd focus on upping YouTube payments. I'd be scared of Daniel Ek and Jimmy Iovine more than Tim Cook. Then again, the labels were smart enough to get a percentage of streaming services.

As for all you people lauding the CD, STFU. No one's listening. Then again, the labels are. This is the main way they make money. But instead of preparing for the future, they're wedded to the past. If Spotify had launched earlier, if it wasn't delayed by label negotiations, YouTube wouldn't be the default streaming platform. Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don't give it to people the way they want it, a worse alternative appears, one in which you receive less compensation or none. Fighting Napster begat KaZaA. Shutting down Limewire resulted in locker services. The best bet against piracy? Easy to use authorized services. But if you're always looking to make what you once did you're a delusional retired baseball player just waiting for the call to suit up. Things change, change with them.

And know that the mainstream press is last. Hell, are you gonna trust the L.A. "Times," which saw its subscriber base sink from 739,000 to 454,500 in the wake of the 2008 "Tribune" bankruptcy? There's no one even there to report a story, everybody's been given a golden parachute (well, more like tin) and those left are positively the B-team. Hell, the above story was in the LONDON "Times," not the LOS ANGELES "Times," even though the latter is in the same city as Hollywood.

A CD is a delivery system. HMV is a retailer. Delivery and retail change, the art remains. What next, a return to general stores, with no freeway access? The key is to focus on growing the future, not buttressing the past.




BlackBerry 10 is a failure.

How do I know?


I want you to name one tech company that came back from the dead. Oh, I know, you're gonna throw a curve ball, you're gonna say Apple. Well, if it was still only in the computer business, Apple would be so marginalized as to be unknown to most people. What grew Apple was new products, the iPod, iPhone and iPad. If you told me RIMM was coming up with something new, instead of burnishing an old phone, I'd at least pay attention. Instead you've got an antique company trying to reclaim its glory days based on the fact that it sells physical keyboards and has an e-mail solution.

The initial Androids had keyboards… If that's what people wanted, they'd all have them. As for e-mail, ask your teen if he's addicted. No, he loves texting!

And Apple taught us it was about software and the ecosystem.

BlackBerry's software has always been far from seamless. Ever wait for a BlackBerry to boot up? The world could end in the interim. And if you never had a BlackBerry that crashed/froze, you didn't own one. Where is all the good will for this device? The people clamoring for BlackBerries are the same ones heralding the CD! I miss my BlackBerry not one iota. And the functionality on the iPhone is so high, it's almost like it's in a different product category.

And app developers like to get paid. There are almost no apps for BlackBerry 10 and no one's gonna write any, because the universe is so small.

But the mainstream press, even the "Wall Street Journal," never shuts the door on the Waterloo company. It always posts the positive. As if there's a chance RIMM can come back.


But the insiders don't know it yet. Only the hoi polloi are clued in.

Ain't that modern America.