Doug Morris Is Easy To Bullshit

Wired’s December issue has an insightful interview with Universal CEO Doug Morris in which the embattled executive readily admits to being so ignorant about technology that he didn’t even try to learn how to capitalize on the digital music revolution at the turn of the century. The interview isn’t posted online yet Read the interview here, but this choice excerpt sums it all up:

“There’s no one in the record industry that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”
Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.”


It boggles my mind that an entire industry of “business savvy” executives were so myopic, egoistic, and just plain stupid as to not even learn who to talk to about the impact of digital music. I imagine Morris is exaggerating a little bit here. Out of the thousands of employees that worked for the majors in the golden age of 1.1 million first week *NSYNC CD sales, there were at least a handful of people who saw what was coming. Nay, the real problem was the music business’ stubbornness in adapting to the times. In an industry where you’re only as good as your latest numbers, there was no incentive for anyone to look at any sort of long term growth or stability. It was (and to an extent, still is) all about hitting your quarterly numbers no matter the cost. The more likely scenario is that prescient employees drafted up hundreds of pages of meticulously researched reports that were placed in the inboxes of various record label executives only to be summarily ignored and trashed because they had nothing to do with making the 4th quarter margins.

The interview goes on to talk about Universal’s Total Music venture and how Morris’s primary objective nowadays is to unseat iTunes from power. Again, Dougy is missing the point here. Guy, we’re in 2007. No one cares about you trying to show that you have a bigger dick than Steve Jobs. What you should be trying to do is creating a service with the music fan in mind. Make something that puts both Napster circa 2000 and iTunes to shame.

In other words, clone OiNK.

Update: Wired now has the interview online here