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Pink Floyd's Nick Mason Thinks that Apple's iTunes is Passé

Nick Mason is the only member of Pink Floyd to have played a part in every one of the band's
often turbulent incarnations. He bluntly stated in a new GQ interview that he thinks that Apple's iTunes is rather passé. The GQ interview and accompanied video has to be meshed together in order to get Mason's full thoughts on music today, and we've done just that to the best of our ability in this report. If you happen to be a big fan of Pink Floyd, like I am, then Mason's thought on the state of the music industry may be of interest to you.


The part of the written interview about Apple started with the question: What did you make of the U2/Apple debacle?


Mason replied that "It's been interesting seeing how badly that went down. 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. [pause] Radiohead did something similar a few years ago [2008's In Rainbows], and it worked. But this has backfired. It's made everyone think again about how they want their music delivered, given or sold. Look, U2 are a great band, and Bono's an extraordinary individual, so this isn't an anti-U2 tirade.


But it highlights a vital aspect to the whole idea of music in the 21st century. What's also interesting is that Apple seems to have gotten off scot-free. No-one's blaming them. Apple has done great things, but it has also contributed to the devaluation process.


That said, iTunes is already beginning to look rather passé, 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.


Because of the internet music has become devalued. Maybe music was overvalued previously but it's been devalued to a point where I think it's a problem now because we miss out on a lot of good music that could be available but isn't.


Not in the video but in the GQ interview this has been added: "At the moment, the pay-out, particularly for unknowns and only slightly-knowns is… pathetic. Pink Floyd is certainly not saying, 'we won't do it like that'. We'll stream, but we'll stream with higher quality audio, and with a lot more video, or other graphic interfaces that will make it part of a fuller entertainment experience."


The segment of the Mason video regarding music and Apple starts around the 5.58 minute mark.




Back in November The Financial Times reported that "Apple will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, instantly making it available on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads – and ramping up pressure on Spotify, the market leader in music streaming."


Perhaps with Beats Music team have a better feel for where this generation is on music and be able to bolster Apple's music platform. Though in the end, I'm not quite sure it's going to address the needs of struggling bands trying to earn a living. But that's a subject for another day.


Sound Quality Found in Today's MP3 Players is Appallingly Degraded


In another area of the video Mason states that "When the music leaves the music studio it's really as good as everyone can make it and it is appallingly degraded by the time it reaches that MP3 player and the cheap earbuds. And you just think ... hmm god. I think that's a real problem. I think that people are missing out on an element of music."


That has been an issue with Neil Young for a long time. His position was echoed in a Wired magazine article back in 2012 where the author noted that Neil Young was right: "Those songs on your iPhone do sound like crap, and it’s time we demand better-sounding alternatives for our digital music."


Young stated during an "AllThingD" interview that "My goal is to try and rescue the art form that I’ve been practicing for the past 50 years. We live in the digital age, and unfortunately it’s degrading our music, not improving."


Another Neil Young line was "Steve Jobs was a digital pioneer, but when he went home, he listened to vinyl." 


In case you missed it, Sony has reinvented the Walkman and its value against the iPod will be that it will offer vastly superior audio. Of course at $1,100, it'll only be for the wealthy and not the mass market.


One that's much more affordable is called the PonoPlayer at $400. Neil Young is the CEO and founder of PonoMusic. This is certainly an area where Apple could improve our music listening experience. Whether Apple is listening to that tune is unknown at this time. We can always hope.


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