Nick Mason: Apple Has ‘Contributed to the Devaluation’ of Music
Just for the record, Apple execs: If you'd offered Pink Floyd the same amount of money you offered U2 to give the band's 'Songs of Innocence' LP to all your iTunes account holders, Nick Mason would have been all for it.
"It's been interesting seeing how badly that went down," Mason mused during a recent chat with GQ. "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."
Of course, as Mason quickly admitted, the idea "backfired," and U2 found itself under fire for everything from being presumptuous about who wanted to hear its music to contributing to the anti-privacy creep perpetrated by the biggest tech companies. But as Mason sees it, the band is merely a convenient scapegoat for a problem that ultimately has more to do with Apple and its competitors than any one artist.
"Apple seem to have got off scot-free. No one's blaming them. Apple has done great things, but it has also contributed to the devaluation process," he pointed out. "That said, iTunes is already beginning to look rather passe, 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. At the moment, the pay-out, particularly for unknowns and only slightly-knowns is...pathetic."
It all adds up to a fairly dire state of affairs for musicians -- not necessarily the ones who reside comfortably among the financial elites, like Mason and his peers, but the bands of the future.
"The world has changed. We can't change it back. Because of the Internet and downloading, music has been devalued," said Mason. "Maybe it was over-valued previously, but it's a become a real issue now. We're missing out on a lot of great music simply because it's become so damned hard to make a living out of it. Obviously not for us dinosaurs, but for new musicians. People say it's not like the golden era, the '60s or whenever, but actually there are some great players and writers out there, and you'll never hear of them."
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