Jon Bon Jovi elicited controversy this week by claiming that Apple founder, Steve Jobs, is “personally responsible for killing the music business.”

The virtual response to Bon Jovi has been almost unanimously vitriolic.  My favorite response has come from musician Derek Webb:  “Henry Ford is personally responsible for killing the horse industry.” 

Obviously, Bon Jovi overstated his case–isn’t that the best way to get press, anyway?–but the iPhenomenon has, in fact, changed how music is produced and consumed.

Until a few months ago, I was sympathetic with Bon Jovi.  The MP3 model of music business exalted the single, over the album, as the primary artistic expression of musicians.  With MP3 sales, one dominant single is a sufficient reward for record labels’ investment in production and marketing.

But there are signs that the iPhenomenon has helped the music industry.  Indie music is no longer indie.  Arcade Fire won Album of the Year at 2011 Grammy awards.  The Civil Wars most recent album climbed to the top of iTunes album sales list.  Both acts deserved these honors, but without digital sales and social media, only indie connoisseurs would know these great musicians.   

We are too quick to make the medium the enemy.  Tapes and CDs didn’t have the rich sound of vinyl.  Now MP3 albums have robbed consumers of album covers and lyric booklets.  Shoot the messenger.

The Buggles claimed that “Video Killed the Radio Star.”  Bon Jovi claimed that the iPhenomenon killed the music business.  But the song, however we access it, persists.  Andy Dufresne–who spent two weeks in solitary confinement for blaring opera over Shawshank’s PA system–was right; no one can take music from us.

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