Many key moments of my career have soundtracks.
- Deciding to leave Lockheed Sanders, move to California, and help start Acclaim Coin-Op? Jane’s Addiction’s live album.
- Finally crushing Armageddon’s game object memory leak? Veruca Salt’s "8 Arms to Hold You."
- Road Rash’s threading crash bug and final Nintendo approval? Hole’s "Celebrity Skin."
- Adding lists into Second Life’s scripting language? Rush’s "Vapor Trails."
Despite this, I neither buy nor hear much new music. Since 2000, I’ve only purchased 5 albums. Three by Rush (enough of my friends are Rush fans, so somebody reminds me when they release a new album), Pearl Jam’s "Pearl Jam" (I read a Rolling Stone review in an airport), and REM’s Accelerate (best Terry Gross interview on "Fresh Air" in months.)
Why not? I hear lots of new music I like – anything from the first couple seasons of Alias would work – but I never hear new music in the right context to buy it. When I listen to radio, I’m listening to NPR to catch up on the news. The good local music stores are all gone. When I’m working, I want to hear music I like, so I have a very low threshold for experimentation. Coworker’s iTunes shares provide a hint at something new, but DRM and the hassles of being on the wrong computer – working on a desktop when my music is on my phone and laptop – keep me from jumping onto the iTunes Music Store to make a purchase.
Note that none of this lack of purchasing is because I’m just torrenting stuff. The problem is that connecting discovery of new music to the ability to own the music is completely jacked. Even when I knew I wanted something – Accelerate – I had the problem that I was traveling with my MacBook Air, so buying a CD was useless. I had never setup the iTMS on that computer and you would be amazed at how hard Apple has made that process. It’s like they don’t want to sell me music. Then, once I did remember all the passwords I needed, I couldn’t figure out whether the iTunes download was DRM free. So I went to Amazon, which was slightly easier and made it clear the download wasn’t broken via DRM.
It is incredibly frustrating. I want to be able to find new music. When I find new music, I’m happy to pay the artists for it. Once I own music, I want to be able to listen to it wherever I am. How hard can this be?
I’m about to find out. Two weeks ago, I joined EMI Music as SVP of Digital Strategy.
Why EMI? By hiring Douglas Merrill, EMI has demonstrated a commitment to capitalize on all the technology available to make the music experience better for artists and fans. At Linden, the most important changes I drove were blends of technology and licensing, so when Douglas asked me to join him at EMI, I jumped at the chance. Music touches everyone in the world and is uniquely part of our lives -- how could I not take this challenge?
Obviously, I have a lot to learn about music and EMI, so I’ll be spending time in London and Los Angeles. Moreover, I'll be reaching out to many of you for help as I figure out how to build the right team to generate sustained, ongoing innovation around music. (Want to work on these challenges? Let me know!)
And, yes, I will be definitely be blogging about it.
Oh, and what was I listening to when I decided to join EMI? REM’s Accelerate.
(OK, go back to waiting for Jobs' keynote now)