The major labels are run by a pack of bullies who aren’t terribly bright. And frankly, it’s a miracle they’re still in business at all. This has been my opinion of the majors for many years. From their earliest days, they’ve all been about control and the idea of working with others is generally anathema to them.
But don’t take my word for it. Read the story of Ali Partovi, a businessman with a very long history within the technology world. In the year 2007, he saw an opportunity and created a website called iLike. It allowed music to be downloaded and shared. The music came from majors and independents – and unlike most things around at the time which allowed you to do this, it was legal and above board.
Partovi believed the potential of iLike was enormous – but it never did as well as expected. And no one ever quite knew why. Until now. The site was sold to MySpace for a very low price in 2009 and was closed altogether in 2012.
Things started to go wrong in 2007. Partovi was called into a meeting with Universal Music Group after posting a 30-second video of U2 singer Bono speaking – with one of their songs, which UMG owned, being played in the background. Partovi met Jimmy Iovine and a number of henchmen.
Do make a cup of coffee and read the entire 46 tweet thread. It’s long, but extremely illuminating…
The world’s largest record label once threatened to destroy my startup over one video. This high-stakes showdown involved music mogul Jimmy Iovine of @UMG and rock star Bono of @U2. It taught me a lot about facing fear in business. Here’s the painful story. (1/n) pic.twitter.com/onW6QduTHL— Ali Partovi (@apartovi) October 23, 2021
At a time when the majors were in serious trouble due to illegal downloading and physical music sales taking a nosedive, this is how Universal Music Group responded to an innovator who offered help to save them. Instead of shaking the man’s hand, they decided to bite it.
It’s only the sheer size of these companies which keeps them afloat, certainly not the people steering the ship…