Jon Bon Jovi accuses Steve Jobs of being 'personally responsible for killing the music business'

Bon-Jovi-Steve-Jobs

Image Credit: Landov; EPA/Monica M. Davey/Landov

Shot through the heart, and Steve Jobs is to blame.

That is Jon Bon Jovi’s assessment of the current state of the music industry. Bon Jovi (of the iconic rock group “Jon”) had some uncharacteristically harsh words for Apple and its turtlenecked benevolent dictator Steve Jobs in an interview with the London-based Sunday Times Magazine.

Sounding a bit like an older man protective of his lawn — the quote literally starts with “kids today” — Bon Jovi bemoaned the fact that the young’uns no longer have “the experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album, and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it.”

There are plenty of things to worry about with Apple and its friendly, jangly-themed chokehold on the way we consume music, but this sort of nostalgia grief isn’t one of them. Sure, that particular visceral experience is gone, replaced by one of swiping and tapping, but kids now have literally hundreds of thousands of songs at their fingertips thanks to the Internet, whole genres they can peruse on YouTube that they would have never even considered back when they had to shell out their weekly allowance for a single album.

To put it simply: Whereas Tommy used to work on the docks, bringing home his pay for the newest lackluster Whitesnake album, now he can freely test-drive that album and nearly any other before deciding to buy it. It doesn’t eliminate the sense of discovery, only the sense of paying a bunch of money to the already bloated record industry for a potential disappointment.

The other problem with Bon Jovi singling out Steve Jobs as a straw man to blame for the decline of the music industry is that Jobs is really pretty much the only guy who has managed to successfully monetize online music consumption. It’s fine if you want to mourn the loss of physical albums — preferably by lighting votive candles around a copy of Cracked Rear View — but just know that you might as well also own a gramophone and a Kinetoscope.

Old media die, new media are born, it’s the circle of iLife: YouTube killed the video star, video killed the radio star, radio killed the traveling minstrel, and minstrelsy killed banging rocks on other rocks to some sort of rhythm. No doubt in fifty years, Justin Bieber will complain in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech about how kids no longer know the joy of flipping through an iPod library now that music is just beamed directly into their frontal lobes.

Ah, well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to Slippery When Wet on my iPod.

Comments (263 total) Add your comment
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  • Danya

    I agree 100% with what you said Keith. And 0% with Bon Jovi

    • BlackIrish4094

      Opposite for me, I agree with Bon Jovi.

      • Matt

        Opposite of the opposite for me. 100% with Keith.

      • Carla in Houston

        I’m old enough to remember those days Jon is talking about, and I have to say he is barking up the wrong tree on this one. I buy much more music now then I ever did when I had to trek to the old brick and morter record store, the only difference is now I sometimes cherry pick songs from albums rather than buying the whole album and only playing a few songs. And I truly think that artists know that people do this, and it pushes them to have more “killer” and less “filler” tracks on their albums. I still put on the earphones (or earbuds, whatevs) and blast it out, but now I can take EVERY SONG I OWN with me everywhere I go. What’s not to love about that. Love you Jon, but you need to chill dude.

      • Rio

        ITA with Carla. You’re right on. sometimes I do miss holding the ablum cover in my hands and reading the lyrics off the sleeve, but CDs killed that a loooong time ago and that didn’t have anything to do with Apple. Couldn’t be happier about the iPod revolution.

      • myprettypony

        JBJ is wrong. What “killed” the music industry is the fact that you had to spend 15 to 19 bucks on a CD that maybe had one or two good songs on it and the rest, garbage.

      • Brenda

        I also thought that it was simply due to the lack of creativity in the industry.

      • HC

        We just need more payola, and everything will be ok.

      • Michelle

        What killed it for me is the $300 a ticket they want for one of JBJ’s shows…and if you want a meet and greet it’s another $1K

    • Chris

      I agree 73% with BlackIrish, 25% with Matt, and 212% with Danya. My brain hurts!

      • jack

        ahahaha

      • Le HIROSHI

        LOL with Chris.

        - -

        As for me, both Bon Jovie and his opponents have got their own good points. But one thing for sure: SLIPPERY WHEN WET is one of the timeless pop rock albums.

    • Andrei

      Did he call those kids today “whippersnappers”?

      • BK

        Awesome comment!

    • MultiPass

      There is just as much bad music being purchased now as there was when Bon Jovi was making it. He has no idea what he is talking about. And killing the music industry as it existed back then, while not intended I’m sure, was still a good thing.

    • Bluto

      Hmm… I think that “the experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album, and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it.” died somewhere along the time that the CD came out (which Steve Jobs didn’t create).

      And then came the mp3 (which Steve Jobs didn’t create), which was quickly uploaded to Shawn Fanning’s creation Napster (not Steve Jobs), which reshaped the entire music industry and the way that music is sold and distributed. If anything, Steve Jobs brought profitability back to the game with iTunes.

      • Hi

        Agree! Job’s didn’t invent online music, he just found a way to make the stars get paid for it! I’d think Bon Jovi would THANK him. B/c of Steve Jobs he gets paid for the music people were already downloading for FREE!

      • mari

        I agree. I thought that was ridiculous of him (Bon Jovie) to blame Jobs. Plus he seems to be a little late on the “blame game”. Didn’t Metallica sue Napster back in the day?

      • BG 17

        Also, I know that it is a matter of opinion, but Bon Jovi hasn’t released a solid album-worth of material since Keep the Faith. He should be thankful that people can buy his singles – at least he can keep cranking out the greatest hits albums twice a decade.

      • Mellissa

        A) People can still put on headphones and get lost in the music. It’s just on an iPod, as opposed to a Walkman, which was the norm when Bon Jovi was at the peak of their sucess.
        B) Yes, Metallica did it first, and while I understand their viewpoint, and they got Napster shut down, it virtually killed their career.

      • Jennifer

        I miss the kind of record-buying experience JBJ is talking about, and buy much less music now, but as others have pointed out, it died long before Steve Jobs got ahold of it.

      • BBKing

        What a crappy amplifier.
        Mine goes to 11.

    • Shannon

      Team Keith here. What is this, 2000? And who replaced Bon Jovi’s brain with Lars Ulrich’s? (It’s the Napster kid that should be complaining, really. His brilliant idea has been stolen and streamlined by a geezerly CEO.)
      It’s not the kids, Jon. It’s aging rockers like you.
      I can’t believe these old coots are still whining about the downfall (read: *transition) of the music industry.
      This argument was over before it started. In the words of the peace-loving, change-embracing, lousy-ass Broadway musical-composing, eternally out-there and in-your-face rocker, Bono: “The only thing killing music is bad music.” Hells yeah!

      • Tv Food and Drink

        I agree. Evolve or die. Because of playlists I’ll listen to hours on end of my favorite artists’ music withhout having to pop out a disc or flip over an album. And while I like Slippery When Wet, it’s design was as commercial as commercial coule be back then – a couple of A+ songs, a couple of B+ songs, and a bunch of middling dreck (goes even more so for New Jersey)

    • LOL

      High CD prices killed (at least partially) music. CDs should never cost over $9.

    • HC

      If you want to call that music, I guess so.

    • Giovanna

      Jody – Oh Betsy, Just Beautiful and the words you wrote by each picture cartepus the moments just perfect and have such personal meaning behind them. You have such a God given talent with words and photography. Of course, the Bride & Groom are my favorites (all of them are). It was a pleasure having you there to share in Jon & Ashleys special day. Great job as usual.

  • febreeze

    Jon Bon Jovi – the front man of the band that epitomized hair band cheese is critiquing someone for ruining music. Hello! Bon Jovi is a major contributor to the downfall of music if you ask me! Their insipid, soulless “rock” is the icon of a generation of sell outs. Please. As if somehow making a large variety of music to a larger portion of the population is somehow bad. What a moron. He needs to concentrate on shaving his chest, pretending he’s an actor and not making or commenting on music.

    • KC

      Don’t forget his mulling of taking some sort of political office.
      Please.

      • MultiPass

        You mean “mulleting”

    • BlackIrish4094

      Larger variety does not mean better music though. There is a reason the albums back in the day were awesome and most today are crap. There is a reason bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin’s music still endures (not including Bon Jovi with them though, lol).

      • febreeze

        true, but you have the opportunity to be exposed to music that you might never had the opportunity to listen to before the advent of this type of technology.
        What platform would jon bonjovi run on? Please is right!

      • Andrei

        Blackirish, the “reason” is that 90% of music in ANY era is crap; it’s just that the older crap tends to get forgotten. For every Zeppelin and Floyd, there were dozens of Osmonds and Brownsville Stations and “Kung Fu Fighting”.

        I’m pushing 50 now, and still finding jewels among the dung today – just listen to the Gaslight Anthem, or Radiohead, or even the Hawaii Mud Bombers!

      • um

        I agree that a large portion of music from any era is crap. People sound crotchety with they talk about “Back in my day, everything was better.”

      • True Blue

        @Andrei:

        Not really. It’s true that there is always crap music in any and every era, but this particular era is by far the worst. And I’m no crotchety old person bemoaning the “good ol’ days”, I’m 19 years old and I do happen to love a lot of modern music. I love music from all eras and I don’t believe in generation bias. But when I compare music from the 90s, 80s, 70s and beyond to most music made now, there is a distinct gap in quality. There’s a lack of soul and sincerity in today’s music, not to mention a lack of creativity. Now of course there are exceptions, because as I said, I do love a lot of contemporary artists, and soulless, uncreative music has always existed, but the ratio of crap to quality was far smaller in the decades past than today. And I have no nostalgic attachment to most music from the past eras, so I’m pretty sure I’m being unbiased in saying this. In fact, I’m usually the one telling off old crotchety people and music snobs when they completely write off all 2000s-era music.

      • True Blue

        Sorry, I meant to direct my last comment @um.

      • Bugs

        I was thinking about Blackirish’s point the other day. “The Industry” was inhabited by people who were very good at picking out artists and songs we would like, filtering out most of the crap, and presenting us with nice, convenient packages of “good” music – i.e., albums. They must have been doing something right, because they were massively successful for many years. The downside, of course, was that we only got to hear the artists and songs *they* decided were worth listening to.

        Now, of course, we don’t have producers, executives, and DJs making our music decisions for us. We have to do their old job – listening to lots of music, some great, some terrible, most mediocre, and filtering out the crap. In the process, I think we become more discriminating and better informed listeners. And obviously, we have the chance to discover artists whom we, personally, might enjoy but who wouldn’t necessarily make the cut in The Industry. I think all this has caused us to evolve beyond our old role as mere consumers of musical products. We have to listen more and think for ourselves. All for the best as far as I’m concerned.

      • BG 17

        Excellent perspective on this, Bugs.

      • DR

        @ True Blue

        It’s all relative. I’m 20 as of today, and what can be considered crap for others is gold for some. I want to expound on that, but that’s the bare bones of it. I’m sure in the 90s people were complaining left and right about the music clogging the airwaves then. I guess it’s all a matter of taste. While I do agree with you that in mainstream, the ratio of good songs to the bad ones is pretty low, it’s just what’s popular as of now. Who knows how it’ll all be at the end of this decade?

    • ks

      That and the MTV crowd-who he sucked up to so well
      FAIL bon jovi

    • Deb

      Bon Jovi does very well in teh music industry andhas persisted for nearly three years. The band has adapted. And, BTW, they are fantasic live. While I may disagree with what Jon is saying here, you can’t knock the band’s music or adaptive skills.

      • Deb

        I meant to say that Bon Jovi has peristed for three DECADES, not hree years. Sorry, I’m over tired adn need to go home now.

    • HuffStuff

      Listening to Bon Jovi is like getting your ears kicked in the nuts.

  • AH

    I think it’s kinda awesome that my musical discoveries are no longer limited to the musical tastes of my local record shop owner. And I think that youtube/videos/TV are now how how people discover random music. It’s not bad, JBJ, it’s just different. But I’ll get off your lawn.

    • Tracy

      ITA. If it weren’t for itunes & amazon.com, I would have never discovered The Gaslight Anthem, Metric, Locksley, the Postelles, Marie Digby and Tristan Prettyman. There is also more access to live and acoustic versions of songs, which I usually prefer to the studio tracks.

      • Deiby

        Great post. I have enyjoed reading your blog as I am a prairie girl too (in Alberta).SandraD

  • Jack

    What Jovi is saying is that the days of owning a real ALBUM artwork, liner notes that you can touch is over. Everyone is downloading and to be honest it isn’t the same. Downloads aren’t even collectable. Yeah it is cool to download some tracks here and there but I just don’t understand why so many younger generations don’t care to own the booklet and check out the artwork etc.

    • ST

      I agree with you Jack. I thikn Bon Jovi is taking it a little too far by personally attacking Steve Jobs but it’s definitely not quite the same experience it was by anxiously waiting for a CD to come out, buying it and then pouring over the liner notes and pictures. I miss it to a certain extent. It is a change of pace and different doesn’t always equal better BUT I do think there are definite positives (as the article stated) that have come from this too.

      • krayzeman

        Im from the era of buying CDs and reading the liner notes. Its probably the only thing i miss about that era. I love the fact now the my house isnt cluttered up with CDs that after i look at the liner notes one time that its just gonna collect dust after im done looking at it…lol

      • SueN

        @krayzeman It was even more fun reading liner notes with vinyl and passing them around with friends. But then CDs came along and I came to appreciate their portability. Now I appreciate the ease of downloading.

      • Shannon

        True, but it’s not like CD’s aren’t still available for those who really want to buy them. What’s great about MP3′s is that they don’t get dirty and scratched to bits. Plus, they don’t come in cases that are made like sh** and basically encourage CD damage.

    • BlackIrish4094

      Agree dude. I still look at the liners and pictures on my Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or Selling England by the Pound albums. Today is just too short attention span (and too immediate gratification).

    • Bebe

      I agree with Jon. The music collecting experience is nothing like it was back then. It used to be you had the album cover, liner notes, and the music. Now you just have the music in a crappy compressed file. And you used to have to do some actual WORK to find out who the cool new bands were. You earned it. Now you just sit your fat a** down in front of the computer and click on YouTube videos. There’s no effort involved at all.

      • tvfruitcake

        I agree with you there. I loved the whole experience on buying the albums. Sure you always got a dud or two in the mix but you always got great songs because you would listen to the single on the radio and then decide of it was worth the risk. I was and still am a huge fan of liner notes. The artists would sometimes name another artist who had helped and that would make me look that person up and see what they could do. Sometimes you got turned onto someone great that you had never heard of before. I am not old but am too old to be young and am amazed at how the music business has changed. While I agree that in a sense it is easier to discover new bands you don’t get the same level of satisfaction. I loved my walkmans and wore them out quickly. You tube holds no allure for me. I think also that he wasn’t so much as blaming Jobs as he was the industry. I think that he needed a face to put in a place holder and Jobs fit the bill. But I don’t think that he was saying that he was personally responsible. That is just my two cents. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go dust my albums and put them back in alphabetical order.

      • dee dee1

        I get what Jon is trying to say. High concert prices, high CD prices, everything is so expensive now. Everything is corporate sponsored. I too miss the days of vinyl and enjoying the artwork, reading the lyrics etc. I miss spending less than $20 for a concert ticket and being able to see my favorite bands. I had to save my money to go and I appreciated it. Now, concerts are so outpriced, even the merchandise they sell is out of reach. Not ashamed to say I miss how it used to be. Nothing but great memories. Greed has killed the music business and the fans of course suffer for it.

      • lpt2569

        The amazing thing about technology is that it frees up time for me to do MORE IMPORTANT THINGS!!! I don’t want to “work” to find new music, I already have a job, thank you. I have discovered more new music in the last few years than I ever did as a kid, and I did it sitting on my a$$, then had time to play with my son.

      • PN

        I like the new technologies out there, but nothing can replace the playing of a physical album and looking at the liner notes. I still do it today. I never download! It doesn’t help the artist anyway. Jon Bon Jovi is trying to bring that kind of listening experience back. You can only go so far with the downloading and the Ipods and Itunes instead of the physical kind, which I still do.

    • Mel

      People, CD are still around. Anyone who wants one can buy one (as well as vinyl). I still buy CDs from bands I really like. There is no point in bemoaning the loss of something that is not gone. The way others buy music does not really affect anyone but them.

    • ks

      I remember in High School running out to buy the latest Hawkwind ALBUM w/book now they have digital books……

    • Cap’n Geech

      Absolutely. And remember, album covers also served another useful purpose, especially the double-gated variety…if you know what I’m saying.

      • s

        Where’s my ‘like’ button! :)

      • Mary

        I forgot about that!

      • K

        Uh oh…I don’t know what you’re saying. I shall assume that I should be embarrassed.

      • fourtriangles

        you mean sepparating seeds from the shake?

  • Dan

    whose = belongs to
    who’s = who has
    Editor fail.

    • Mary

      How about “Bon Jovi, of the iconic rock group JON”…BIGGER FAIL!

    • Lily

      im sure i was not the only one who had a hard time finding a gatinlg laser without dlc of coarse its most certainly powerful enough with a dps of nearly 500 with high energy skill and was hard to? find as well without siding with BOS why wasnt this on here if u dont mind me asking

  • Jason

    HaHaHa. Washed up has-beens crying about their “music”. How many greatest hits records do you have out there now, Jonny boy?

  • UGH

    Jon Bon Jovi: Bruce Springsteen-wannabe.

  • Jay

    Dear Jon,
    Go on tour to make your money.

    Problem solved

    • Sly

      They do…and they don’t seem to have a problem price gouging their sheep…er fans along the way.

    • Zora

      i remember when i found a super muntat with a fatman near the black mountain radio station. i went to settle a score with a deathclaw because i had the weaponry to do so. instead, i did part of the black mountain radio? quest and got annabelle. everything went better than expected. oh and i didn’t get the fatman off that dud because i already had one

  • Justice

    Yes, because buying an album with your allowance and paying for nine terrible songs attached to a one hit wonder is so fair. I hated wasting money on CDs and LPs for just one song; why would we ever want to go back to that? If an entire album is great then people will buy it.

    • John

      Please stop. Stop with that old rationalization for illegal downloading that every single album that has come out in the last 10+ years has only one good song on it. Please? It is so tired.

      • AH

        He wasn’t rationalizing illegal downloads. He was explaining the business model behind itunes.

      • Kat

        I don’t think it’s rationalization for illegal downloading at all. It’s a description of iTunes. I’d much rather buy one song off an album than be forced to buy the whole thing. If I like most of the album, I’ll probably buy the whole thing, but that doesn’t happen so often anymore.

    • S.

      I agree Justice. I enjoy buying albums of artists I know I can generally trust will have multiple songs I love (If I play 7 songs over and over, then that is a good album to me – they can’t all be great). New artists or artists I don’t particularly like or know, but have a song I really like – well those are perfect to buy from itunes and it does get me to sample more new artists.

  • KC

    I could be a real @$$hole and go out there to download some of Bon Jovi’s music illegally just to kick some sand in his face, but having that idiot’s horrible music on my iPod would ruin it.

    • lpt2569

      exactly

  • Justice

    Yes, because buying an album with your allowance and paying for nine terrible songs and a one hit wonder is so fair. I hated wasting money on CDs and LPs for just one song; why would we ever want to go back to that? If an entire album is great then people will buy it.

  • king128

    Before iTunes, there was Napster, Kazaa and other file sharing network where everyone get their music, FREE

    • crispy

      Does anyone remember Audiogalaxy Satellite? That site was teh awesome!

      • Owen

        god, i miss audiogalaxy. i could find anything on that.

      • Shannon

        Agreed!

  • JRock

    You are a fool, Keith. Already bloated music industry? Test drive the music before buying? You simply have no clue. The more you make a “large variety of music to a larger portion of the population” available without compensation, you will have less and less people deciding to become musicians to make the music in favor of a job with a salary.

    • Kilty

      If they’re writing and performing songs for the money, I don’t wanna hear them anyway.

  • ES

    i still do buy cds.mainly because you cant beat cd quality over mp3.at the same time im selective over whose cds i buy thanx to steve jobs.i like not wasting money on a whole album if its not good enough. it forces the artists to make great not wack ass music. i agree with u keith.

    • dex

      You do realize that a CD is just a hard copy of MP3s…there’s literally no difference except that scratches on the CD can make the song skip.

    • Prosenjit

      Hey, I was here! This was one of the best cnetorcs I’ve ever been to. Loved the show! From your video, it looks like I was a few rows behind you and it was a great view.

  • tigger851

    and that is the final nail in the coffin of why i don’t like bon jovi, what a stoopid moron!

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