Drummer Nick Mason blames Apple for music’s downfall
Pink Floyd drummer has said that technology giant Apple is killing music sales and bands from making any money. Mason has said “Apple sent the music industry over to the dark side… of the moon. Be it John Mayer or U2, Apple’s always been a brand that’s both embraced — and been embraced by — the music world”. Which is why it’s interesting to hear a legendary musician, in the form of Pink Floyd member Nick Mason, saying possibly the worst thing a creative person can say about it: that it’s passé.
Mason is talking specifically about Apple’s iTunes service, which has been on the decline for several years now, as we have seen the rise of streaming services like Spotify. Interviewed by GQ magazine, Mason’s comments offer a glimpse at how a section of the music world views Apple — and why it needs to change before its too late. “It’s been interesting seeing how badly that went down,” Mason says, responding to last year’s (blown out of proportion) U2 music giveaway.
“Let me be completely clear about my position: if Apple had come to me and said, ‘Nick, we want to release your album in exchange for £50m’, I couldn’t have thought of a better idea. Radiohead did something similar a few years ago [2008’s In Rainbows], and it worked. But this has backfired. It’s made everyone think again about how they want their music delivered, given or sold.”
“Look, U2 are a great band, and Bono’s an extraordinary individual, so this isn’t an anti-U2 tirade. But it highlights a vital aspect to the whole idea of music in the 21st century.” What’s also interesting is that Apple seems to have gotten off scot-free. No-one’s blaming them. Apple has done great things, but it has also contributed to the devaluation process.”
“That said, iTunes is already beginning to look rather passé, and instead it’s Spotify that looks like the future. What we need is another two or three billion people using it, then it would make more sense for musicians.”
To be fair to Apple, it’s not like it hasn’t noticed that paid music downloads are slowing down. According to a report published late last year, Apple is currently pushing music labels for price cuts that would allow it to bring the cost of a Beats Music subscription from its current £10 price point all the way down to £5. Once this is done, it is possible that Apple will rebrand Beats Music to bring it under the iTunes banner — possibly as early as this February, to coincide with the Grammy Awards on Feb 8.
Nick Mason is, of course, only one musician, and certainly not the first to argue that Apple has had a negative impact on music as a whole. In 2011, Jon Bon Jovi famously held Steve Jobs accountable for “personally responsible for killing the music business,” and for robbing kids of the “magical” experience of buying albums. His critique of music distribution in the twenty-first century is also a general one, rather than being specific to Apple.
But agree with it or not, it’s also an interesting view to take into account — particularly if you’re a Pink Floyd fan. And who isn’t?