My guest on the show today is one of the original gangstas of the digital music business: Larry Miller. Half a decade before Apple launched iTunes, Larry was carving a path. In 1998, he co-founded a2b music, one of the first digital music distribution companies. He went on to become President of Reciprocal Music, another groundbreaking digital distribution & technology company, and later co-founded the Or Music label, which won a Grammy with their artist Los Lonely Boys.
These days, Larry is the Director of the NYU Steinhardt Music Business Program, where he’s shaping the intellect of young people who will write the next chapter in the history of the music business.
There’s a very wise saying: History is written by the victors. Here’s the accepted history of the digital music business: The major labels were clueless about the internet and were doing nothing until Napster appeared and killed the music business. Luckily, Steve Jobs and Apple saved the day by inventing digital downloads and selling them in iTunes. True veterans of the early digital music business know that things were a bit more complex than that. It was an exciting time and things evolved very quickly, too fast to keep up with. The truth is that starting in the mid-90’s, many technology pioneers were working closely with the major labels to shape the digital future of the music business. It was an incredible time of experimentation and learning. Of course the ideas weren’t all viable, so the labels cautiously dabbled, thinking they’d control the timetable of how these new technologies would roll out. After all, that’s how it always worked whenever a new format came along. Of course this time they were wrong. Napster came along and burned all the cautious optimism to the ground. Steve Jobs had great timing, arriving when the majors were fatigued from fighting and desperate for an easy fix to complex problems. So a new history was written, and the story of what came before was brushed away like ashes. We did this podcast over an early breakfast at the Mansion Diner at 86th & York Avenue, hitting record and chatting amongst the sounds of New Yorkers waking up to a gorgeous Fall morning.
Larry Miller on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_S._Miller
NYU Steinhardt: steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/business
Musonomics Podcast: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/muson…id985799104?mt=2
The Mansion Restaurant: www.mansionrestaurantnewyork.com
Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle: www.rollingstone.com/country/featur…-trump-w431117