Some of the tech journalists online got a little excited today when they came across some comments made by Jon Bon Jovi about their wank messiah, Steve Jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the achievements Jobs has made over the years, and part of me cannot believe I’m defending Bon Jovi, but these guys took his remarks out of context and totally missed the point the guy was trying to make.
Let’s start from the top. Jon Bon Jovi was being interviewed by The Sunday Times magazine from the United Kingdom about many things, and one of the issues that came up during the conversation was how the music industry has changed and evolved. This is what Jon had to say:
“Kids today have missed the whole 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.
“God, it was a magical, magical time. I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’ Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business”.
What Jon Bon Jovi is trying to say and express is that times change in the music industry. The same argument was made during his days of popularity in the era of Slippery When Wet and New Jersey: that was the height of the music video era, and countless artists from previous eras discussing how music videos had “destroyed” the world of the listeners’ imaginations while playing music.
There’s even a song out there about it that you may have heard of… Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles.
It was a sign of the times and the expression that something or someone “destroyed” the music industry is not necessarily placing blame on a person or thing; it’s more of an expression that is indicative of the evolution of how things change in the music industry.
The Apple fanboys in the tech press however, took a few moments to pull their dicks out of their iPads, and jumped on Bon Jovi’s remarks; specifically with relation to his comments about Steve Jobs. The problem is that the crew over at CNet and TechDirt (there were others, but I decided to just pick on these two) focused ONLY on the sentence of Steve Jobs without really taking the whole thing into context.
They turned it into an article to ridicule Bon Jovi for his comments.
I have a problem with this. This isn’t the same as Gene Simmons “blaming the geeks” for killing the music industry and advocating litigation. This isn’t the same as Lars Ulrich leading the charge into battle against Napster. What Bon Jovi was doing was pointing out a major change in the context of listeners enjoying music. His use of Steve Jobs‘ name is symbolic more than anything else. In context of his remarks, it’s synonymous with iPods, MP3 files, MP3 players, Computers, or technology in general.
And when you take that into account, what Jon Bon Jovi is saying is that the name Steve Jobs is not only synonymous with Apple, but with the words “Computers” and “Technology”. That’s a hell of a compliment (a back handed one, sure) right there.
For what it’s worth, I am old enough to remember the era Bon Jovi speaks of (and the era before music videos too). And to a degree, he is right. There was something magic about the album jackets and that era. But he’s also wrong about something else. The music industry is always changing, influenced by the evolution of technology – but with that brings new eras that create new magic moments.
Whether it is the imagination of a song’s storyline without a music video, emerging completely into the universe of the album completely, or feeling the enjoyment of a brand new download, the magic of music will never be destroyed.