Music Business

Sony Music CEO On Spotify, Beats, YouTube, How “Free (Music) Is Death” and More

image from www.sonymusic.frYou can tell it is contract renegotiation time for music streamers, because the chorus of major label execs expressing opinions on the evils of free music is growing. Now Sony Music's CEO has spoken out with surprising candor.

"Basically, I equate ‘free’ with the decline of the music business," Sony Music CEO Doug Morris told Hits Daily Double. "Why should anyone pay for anything if they can get it for free?  In certain instances, it’s worth a discussion. But in general, free is death.

doug morrisFree has been way overdone, and the biggest culprit is YouTube, with their links to free sites. This has to be curbed if we’re going to have a successful business.

If there’s a subscription model that gives people what they want, it’ll work. I believe Jimmy Iovine will do well with Apple Beats; he knows how to market things brilliantly….They’ve got 850 million credit cards and $160 billion in the bank – that’s a good start.

Daniel Ek from Spotify deserves a tremendous amount of credit for pushing the rock up the hill. Everybody’s trying to find the magic key to open that box. But no one’s done it yet."

Share on:


  1. Doug Morris is a complete moron. Or perhaps he doesn’t believe most of what he’s saying and, like a politician, is simply posturing to either get supporters or to be polemic. He’s obviously doing this mostly to plant his flag for the “we want more money from subscriptions!” party. In either case the CEO of Sony saying that what YouTube is doing is “wrong” is certifiable. He should start a campaign against waves crashing so loud on the beach. It’s like saying we should go back to horses because the Edsel isn’t a good car. And charge more because the horses need to eat.
    On top of that he describes Iovine as “having 850 million credit cards”, which is the creepiest possible way to celebrate something as a good model.
    What people who rail against free don’t seem to get is that it’s not a consumer problem (piracy is the devil) or a partner’s problem (Spotify owes us more!) to create and run a model that makes paying feel right again. It’s something everyone has to build together, otherwise stop offering music and get into another business with a more straightforward model.
    I read something about Cirque de Soliel recently that reminds of the solution. There was a point when people stopped paying to go to the circus because it was old and stupid. Barnum and Bailey has cruel animal tricks and kitchy backdated ideas. Cirque came in and reinvented what the circus meant from the ground up. Super high caliber music, gravity defying feats from the best performers anywhere, sexuality, alluring design, a narrative. They made the “black and white” circus into full color HD. And now people spend insane money trying to get into the circus, although they’d never call it that. It’s not a matter of forcing people to pay to watch animals because the animals deserve it. Give us a show we want to go see. Give me more.
    Your copyright doesn’t have the value it used to because people don’t want copies of music now. So YOU have to help devise a plan to translate the strong love people still have for music into an experience they want to pay for again.
    Scrap the old circus and build something amazing. Just like artists have to think about how monetize what they do now instead of just make good art, you have to think about building a model that makes art matter again in a way people pay for it.
    The artists have to think about models and you have to think about creating a better PLATFORM for music experience, not just provide music and then complain people won’t pay you enough for it. If you attack Spotify and YouTube you’re biting the hands that feed you.
    Stop bitching, stop posturing, stop demanding and become part of the solution or you’ll be left on the beach with those waves

  2. I think Peter is spot on. Although I really do think YouTube is the most successful piracy site alive which I have used forever. Spotify I don’t use because it over complicates music. Good points.

  3. Doug Morris has been bitching about this since 2007 and still hasn’t figured out a solution.

  4. Also, I’m pretty sure HiFi Tidal will eliminate labels. Jay-Z’s recruited enough big names who will take their music off of both Spotify and YouTube and use his service (lossless streaming, HD music videos, artist-generated content, bigger royalties) exclusively.

  5. Peter has an interesting point but how do you counteract a world where an artist builds and offers for sale “something amazing” as Peter requests and the next day it’s available all over the internet for free?

Comments are closed.