What did you wake up thinking about this morning? What is on my calendar? Can I wear jeans, or do I need a suit because I’m meeting with a senator? I wrap my head around whatever issue I will be dealing with during the day when I am swimming laps, which I do in the morning in the summer, and when I am showering and coming to work. Today, I was preparing for a speech that I have to give next week and I was thinking about how to put it together.
Describe a lesson you learned from failure. There have been two important failures: the inability to get legislation on the rogue sites or legislation on the performance rights for music played on [terrestrial] radio. The lesson I learned was to try and establish a policy from the market up rather than from Congress down. Industries are fearful of legislation. But if you start in the marketplace and forge a solution with the other parties, you get a lot less resistance — and often a more flexible approach. To cast today’s solution in concrete may not be appropriate for tomorrow’s problems. Sometimes when you crystallize words in legislation that are going to be interpreted, or misinterpreted, in a court or used by a clever lawyer to architect around the law, you begin to realize legislation is not the way to deal with a problem. We were able to get deals done with the [Internet service providers] on piracy because that is a voluntary effort. The failures that we have faced, they have now been dealt with through a voluntary solution. With radio, we are talking with the broadcasters again instead of fighting it out in Congress.
What will define your career in the coming year? Keeping the rate structures for streaming services intact. For 15 years we have been hearing from our critics that we didn’t embrace the Internet. Most still aren’t aware how the industry has made it through the digital transition. The industry has stabilized and digital is now 59% of revenue. We have a great story to tell — that music is on the march again with all the digital models, and we are gaining traction — but everyone still has a decade-old impression about us. Now we are waiting for growth to come again to bring us back to where we were — and then to suddenly have a service like Pandora saying that they should be paying less, we need to protect the pricing structure to protect the industry’s future. It is a defining moment that we will have to pay attention to this year.
Name a project that you’re not affiliated with that has most impressed you in the past year. The Anti-Defamation League is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and they created a video to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” It is a stunning piece of work, very inspirational.
Name a desert island album. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” It’s the answer I gave when I was in summer camp, and it’s the answer I give today. It has survived the test of time.