What is it about the music industry? Are the genetically predisposed to act like crapsacks at every opportunity? Today’s New York Times reports that Universal is demanding a cut of all Zuni sales in order to make its content available to Microsoft (no stranger to questionable behavior themselves).
Universal, which releases recordings from acts like U2 and Jay-Z, said it would pay half of what it receives on the device to its artists. The company is expected to receive more than $1 for each $250 device, according to executives who were briefed on the pact. The deal represents a big departure from the standard set by Apple Computer, which pays record companies for songs sold through its iTunes service but does not give them a cut of the sales of its hugely successful iPod. Under the deal, Universal, the world’s largest music corporation, will receive a percentage of both download revenue and digital player sales when the Zune and its related service are introduced next week.
Om Malik hit the nail on the head when he described this as a shakedown:
In this battle of the monopolists, Microsoft blinked and decided to pay up. (Would this have happened a few years ago, when Microsoft ruled the technology planet?) Remember how Jobs stood up to these music industry bullies. Today they are asking $1 a device; what is to stop them from asking for say $10 or $20 per device down the road. This shakedown should result in a serious investigation into the music industry cartel.
More than 40 years ago, the music industry got caught up in the Payola imbroglio, where they paid deejays to play specific songs by specific artists. Now they are asking to be paid simply to give people the right to purchase and play their music. Might there come a day when they’re going to ask for payment before people can mention the names of artists? the titles of songs? snippets of lyrics? The industry continues to do as many boneheaded things as they can think of to make themselves and their product less appealing.
At the risk of violating someone’s copyright, “when will they ever learn, when will they every learn?”
[tags]New York Times, Om Malik, Universal, Microsoft, Payola, Zuni[/tags]