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Acclaimed music industry critic rips into Amazon and its Prime Music service

Published Jun 13th, 2014 12:58PM EDT
Amazon Prime Music

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Some people like Amazon’s new Prime Music service and think it’s a nice value-add for current Amazon Prime subscribers. Others think it’s a lackluster offering that can’t hold a candle to similar services on the market. And some people think Prime Music is an absolute disaster that is horrible for musicians and undermines the industry’s efforts to keep music profitable.

Acclaimed music industry critic Bob Lefsetz doesn’t mince words in his popular industry newsletter, Lefsetz Letter. And when it came to sharing his thoughts on Prime Music late Thursday night, Lefsetz unloaded with both barrels.

“This is a step backwards,” he wrote. “Or to put it another way, Amazon is the new Microsoft, which releases half-baked products that it tries to improve on the fly. As opposed to Apple, which tries to get it right the first time. And what did Steve Jobs famously say, hardware is hard? The Kindle Fire is still a POS after many iterations. It’s like Jeff Bezos has power, but no vision.”

Lefsetz continued, “Give Daniel Ek credit. He launched Spotify through sheer will. And wouldn’t come to America until all companies were on board. Unless you have everybody, you’ve got customer confusion. And that’s the last thing we need right now, hell, even musicians can’t figure out Spotify payments. It’s quite clear, Spotify pays out 69%+ of its revenues to rights holders, almost exactly the same amount as Apple, and this fact is easily discoverable but no one seems to know it. Now we’re gonna have a streaming music service without a great percentage of the music people want? How does that benefit anybody but Amazon? How do we get everybody to pay for music in the future?”

And apparently, Lefsetz doesn’t have a very high opinion of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

“This is a rearguard move by a guy who’s trying to dominate the world and will never realize he can’t,” he wrote. “Facebook faltered with its mobile phone. Everybody can’t do everything. I can’t play in the NBA and it turns out Microsoft couldn’t win in mobile phones. So give Apple credit for playing only occasionally, where they think they can win. And at least Google’s crazy efforts are not located in a walled garden akin to a cult.”

The note goes on to state that Bezos is trying to build a cult where everything is done his way. Lefsetz also calls Prime Music a mess — a “disaster,” even. He writes that it has the potential to severely harm musicians and other rights holders, all for a service with none of the features that make using rival offerings like Spotify enjoyable.

The note is a provocative read, and it’s linked below in our source section.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.