Laura Locke interviewed Steve Jobs for TIME magazine on April 28th, 2003, prior to a launch event in San Francisco for a new digital music service. The product being launched turned out to be the iTunes Music Store, characterized as the "first acceptable alternative to 'free' unauthorized file-sharing services", and Locke found herself in the enviable position of recording some of Jobs' first comments. The interview has not seen light of day for an unspecified reason until Technologizer published it in its entirety this week.
"fuzzy-but-complete version of Jobs' iTunes Music Store keynote"
Here are some highlights from Laura Locke's interview with Steve Jobs from what now seems like an ancient but prophetic time.
Locke began with questions regarding Apple's "Rip. Mix. Burn." hardware ad campaign and Jobs immediately played a misleading card, the 2003 version of the myth of the digital native:
"When some folks thought 'Rip. Mix. Burn.' was an anthem to steal music, it was just because they didn't know what they were talking about...This was the 50 year-old-crowd that thought that...everyone under 30 knew what it meant, so that was probably what really counted."
Jobs on iTunes as the final piece of a complete digital music ecosystem:
"With the introduction of the new iTunes Music Store we've now built the first real complete ecosystem for the digital music age...We've got a way to buy music online legally...We've got a way to manage music with the iTunes Jukebox...And we've got a way to listen to music on the go with the iPod—which is the most popular MP3 player in the world...We're the only people in the world to do this, so we feel great about it."
Though Jobs couldn't say with certainly that iTunes would attract users of free filesharing services, he made it clear that they had examined services such as Kazaa quite closely:
"This is really a far better experience. Not only do the downloads not crap out half way through, and not only is it perfectly encoded—instead of having the last four seconds cut off—but offering previews of every song in the store is just giant...And the ability to browse—you can't do that with Kazaa, you can't do any of this stuff with Kazaa, the experience is so much better than Kazaa."
Regarding streaming music subscription competitors:
"They've failed. They've completely failed. Nobody wants to rent their music. They have hardly any subscribers."
On negotiating with major labels and the power of having a product that's already popular in the industry you're targeting for agreements:
"We started almost a year and a half ago, and as you recall, the climate at that time was more hostile than it is today, but we did have the luxury of going in at the top...they clearly realized that the Internet was in their future, but they were shell-shocked with Napster and people stealing their content."
"I think they trusted us to do the right thing. You know most everybody in the music industry uses a Mac—and they all have iPods—even the ones who don't use a computer have somebody else load up their iPods for 'em with the songs they want."
In 2003 Steve Jobs and Apple had put into place a true ecosystem for digital music and that has continued to support their status as the top music ecommerce and personal music management system on the market. Lots of changes ahead but true competition on a mass market level is only now emerging as streaming music services and social networks come together to create an alternative.
Be sure to check out the complete interview at Technologizer and give the above video a look to see Steve Jobs in his prime.
Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.