The New York Times ran an article in The Times Magazine on Sunday about Rick Rubin. For those of you who don’t know who Rick Rubin is, he is a legendary music producer that has been around the block with the likes of LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Johnny Cash. Rubin recently took on the challenge of leading Columbia Records with Steve Barnett. For the sake of a great record label like Columbia Records and the sake of the music industry in general, I hope Rubin is successful at transforming Columbia into a new kind of label.
In his interview with The Times, he made some comments about how the future of music was going to be a subscription model. I cannot disagree more with Rubin on this point. It has been proven time and again that consumers have little to no desire to rent their music. The success of iTunes provides enough evidence for most to understand this. Music is a very personal thing. Music stirs emotions. Music brings back memories of certain times in your life. Who would want to rent something that important? This is the fundamental difference between music and video, and this is why all subscription based music products have failed to date.
People want to own their music, period. There is something to be said about flipping through your old albums to find something you listened to in high school or college or when your kids were born. Who would want to pay subscription fees for decades to be able to relive memories like that? Let’s hope Rick changes his mind and leads Columbia in the right direction.