updated 10:00 pm EST, Wed December 7, 2011
2003 chat with Time reporter uncovered
Time magazine reporter Laura Locke has posted a previously-unseen interview she did with Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2003 on the day he unveiled the iTunes Music Store. In it, Jobs passionately defends the company's use of the sometimes-misinterpreted "Rip. Mix. Burn." ad campaign, denigrates the pre-iTunes download experience, and expresses some uncertainty over whether consumers would embrace the then-nascent iTunes store over piracy.
Locke started off the interview on the wrong foot by asking Jobs why Apple wanted to "go legit" with the iTunes store after promoting the idea of people copying their CDs into iTunes, which some mistook as a call to piracy. Jobs was characteristically quick to set Locke straight, saying that the "Rip. Mix. Burn." slogan was "never not legit. When some folks thought [it] was an anthem to steal music, it was just because they didn't know what they were talking about ... this was the 50-year-old crowd that thought that."
"We've been against stealing music from the beginning," Jobs added. "We own a lot of intellectual property. Most of our competitors don't, but we do. We're not happy when people steal. So this is not an about-face for us, or anything like that." He went on to explain that the store experience was so much better than the downloading experience at the time, calling it "a far better experience." He added that the ability to preview the song a user was considering buying -- something none of the illegal services could do -- was "giant, just giant."
In the interview, Jobs was dismissive of subscription services, and predicted that potential competitors would have a lot of trouble re-creating what Apple had managed with the iTunes Store. Nearly 9 years later, only now are some companies -- particularly Google and Amazon -- working to try and put together an end-to-end solution that may end up working as well as the iTunes experience.
While Jobs was unable to stop illegal downloading of music (and later other forms of media) outright, iTunes quickly went on to become the number one seller of legal downloaded music, and did push music piracy out of the mainstream. The company's calculation that a premium experience and a low cost of entry would entice people find buying more convenient than the hunt for illegal filesharing has generally paid off, both for the content providers as well as for Apple itself.
Jobs' passion for the iTunes experience spills over from sanitized company promotion to genuine enthusiasm near the end of the interview, where he's asked if he has anything else he wants to say. He goes back to the total iTunes experience, which has only grown in magnitude over the years with the introduction of movies, TV, books and apps, but at the time was just a paltry 200,000 tracks from the then-five major music lables. He told Locke "I cannot overemphasize that because of the previews, the browsing, et cetera you will fall in love with music again ... and it's really wonderful. It's so cool." [via Time]