will.i.am: The Music Industry Built Twitter and Instagram…

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On Larry King Live…

Larry King: You told Page Six recently ‘everything around music is so 2000s, like 2003.’  What did you mean?

will.i.am: The business of music, the industry, still operates as if we’re making hard goods.  When the way we consume music is, ‘did you hear that new song check it out,’ then you go to Google, you just go to YouTube.

King: We had three very successful musicians, from three generations on the show.  Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Melissa Etheridge and T-Pain… all of them said the music industry is not in a good place.

will.i.am: No, it’s not.  Before,  Michael Jackson would compete with Prince.  The Rolling Stones would compete with the Beatles.  Sly & the Family Stone would compete with… ya know, Earth Wind & Fire, Commodores.

Music is not competing with Instagram. Music is not competing with Twitter.  Music is not competing with the other thing, mindshare.

Before you used to listen to music in your room, or drive, and that was your mindshare.  So in the world of mindshare, how does music compare with Instagram, where you are refreshing every five minutes?  The average amount of time that someone spends looking at their phone is about six hours a day.  That’s a lot of mindshare.

So how much of that is associated with music?  So, as an industry, what are we doing to compete?  We don’t even have our own platform, we borrow everyone else’s.

You would have thought that the major three would have created a platform by now.  You would have thought that WhatsApp was ours.  You would have thought, right, we have — we adopt everybody’s platforms and socialize on that.

Twitter was built by us, Instagram was built by us… you would think we would have our own thing by now.

So, after our success with Beats, I developed this company [new smartwatch venture Pulse].  So, you have the music industry, and inside the music industry you have Beats.

So what we accomplished with Beats is what the record industry hadn’t done, I don’t know, ever.

King: Beats was your idea.

will.i.am: No, no.  It was my idea to do hardware, I told Jimmy [Iovine] that we should do hardware.  Beats was Jimmy’s idea with Dre and he brought me on board to be a part of the company.  Actually, the first time I ever — I think the first time that Beats was shown on television was the interview that we did, with Maya Angelou in 2008, I had Beats on my head, on my neck.

King: Really.

will.i.am: Yeah, those were prototypes.


The complete interview, here.



31 Responses

  1. jw

    That’s the solution! If the music industry just controlled our telephones, our apps… if the music industry made microwaves that forced you to listen to the Black Eyed Peas while you’re warming up leftover chinese takeout, then the music industry will thrive!

    If only the music industry had built a platform where people could share photos of their cats back in 2003. Then things would be different!

    • Bandit

      That is not what I heard him saying. So setting the straw man aside

      This is what I heard.

      The music industry still thinks of music as physical product to be sold. (debatable point) The preferred method for music consumption today is via streaming over the internet. (another debatable point) The music industry has failed to build it’s own digital music distribution business model (they did try but failed miserably) Instead the music industry has allowed other companies, sometimes by agreement and more often not, to become extremely popular and wealthy using music distribution as one of their primary ways to attract users/money.

      • jw

        Well let’s be clear… celebrities like Will.i.am aren’t responsible for Twitter or Instagram’s success. And Beats streaming is, at this point, still considered a failure, afaic. I can’t imagine anyone isn’t disappointed with those numbers. Beats will eventually merge with iTunes having captured a very insignificant share of the market, & having only gotten that sliver of marketshare by paying NFL quarterbacks to wear headphones on tv to create brand recognition.

        But it’s not as if the industry hasn’t made a go at it… Sony Connect, PressPlay, MusicNet, etc, were all miserable failures. The reality is that the labels have conflicts of interest that keep them from being able to create a successful service (overpricing, DRM, wanting to promoting artists through the sales channel, etc). So the problem isn’t that the initiative hasn’t been there… the labels have always wanted to own the distribution platform, they just can’t. Even Vevo, their greatest success to date, is in trouble. (Though, to be fair, Vevo could never have gotten off the ground without YouTube. There is no Vevo without YouTube. So calling that a success for the industry is kind of silly.)

        Case in point… I tried to watch Winter’s Bone on Hulu last night. I could pull it up on my phone. I could pull it up on my laptop. I could stream my browser window to chromecast & watch it on my tv. But when I tried to chromecast it from my phone to my tv (the ideal experience), I got the message “This video is no longer available.” I ended up watching it on my laptop when I finished working. If it weren’t for the Criterion films, I would dump Hulu (Universal/Fox/Disney owned) in a second because of these same conflicts of interest. You need someone like Netflix or Apple or Spotify or whomever saying, “No, that’s a terrible idea. You don’t charge a user a monthly fee, then force them to watch commercials, then on top of that place restrictions on how they can view the content.” When the user doesn’t have confidence that they’ll be able to watch a movie when they click “play,” they don’t have confidence in the service. And that’s how you lose customers. The content industries don’t understand that.

        So Will.i.am is acting like he’s got some kind of insight, but what he’s really saying is, “If only PressPlay had taken off, we’d have all of that Apple/Instagram/Twitter money!” But we all know that’s a fantasy. Companies who have been successful… Apple, Google, Twitter, Instagram, even Facebook up until the IPO, were customer experience focused, not content focused. They have perspective & talent for creating these services that the content industries simply don’t have, & that’s why things have played out the way that they have.

  2. Name2

    I assume this was published because somewhere at DMN, someone actually has a wicked sense of humor?

    Anyone? Bueller?

  3. anontech

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we will see a new breakout music platform in 2015.*

    * I’m building it.

  4. Anonymous

    well i dont know about the twitter or instagram part but overall i agree and have been saying the same thing for awhile, i just don’t put the meat of my ideas out there anywhere, for fear of them being stolen.

    Jimmy is also right on the curation end of things, although im not so sure what they are working on right now is the right thing or right way to do it, but curation in music is awful and is needed.

    i will say this though, when popular music went hollywood hollywood, once Michael sort of went that way and started working with a team of people, i really think it started a downward trend overall and one they would be wise to get out of.

    Music is not hollywood, hollywood is hollywood and music is music, when they figure that out, itll get a lot better. Not that there isnt good stuff and not that i dont see the landscape slowly going back that way, Pop has gone far too Hollywood… Michael’s Thirller and Bad and before that with the beatles etc., now thats where its supposed to be… Shes Going Hollywood seemed to really push the whole business of Pop that way and i think its hurt the business AND the music. Again, lots of good music out there from all genres and all levels, but Pop needs to get back to doing its thing and not being so hollywood all the time.

    Thank-you for your time.

  5. Willis

    this guy knows very little about anything, but loves to talk. And his music is terrible.

    • Anonymous

      are you certain about that Willis?

      have you spoken with him before?

      id be interested to know what qualifies you as such to make such a comment?

      i hope it isnt jealousy, bitterness or jadedness. Those are nasty and toxic things that lead many down a dark path, i just hope you can recover from it and go on to lead a beautiful and wonderful life, as everyone deserves to do.

      why you always around bashing people Willis when you aint in the game and have admittedly said you have no dog in the race?

      is your life okay Willis?

      i am concerned about your well being a little bit after awhile of reading your comments Willis.

      i hope you get the help you need and that you find your way out of your current problems and troubles Willis.

      • Willis

        I actually have spoken to him before – not that such an event should be of consequence to my dislike for his creative output.

        Where did you get your degree in psychology to be making such assertions? I didn’t think so. Your response is so scattered and clearly focused on emotion rather than substance, where should I begin?

        As for me, I have a degree in music composition, have written a number of hit songs and scored tv/film to critical praise. Jealousy? Hardly. Bitterness? Not a chance. Jadedness? While it doesn’t apply to this situation, by now you should know that most everyone has a bit of this who is in music.

        Sorry that me stating some facts really threw you. If anyone needs help, based upon their comments, it would be you. I’m sure many on this site can back that up.

        • Anonymous

          Just words on a screen and none of which i can take for truths Willis. I’m sorry you and others are so offended by my presence Willis, i really am. If you feel my posts are more emotion then substance, then again, because i believe in full disclosure, perfect, you easily fall for the smoke screen bait, and im telling you, and you still wont believe it, its incredible how easy this is sometimes.

          While definitely concerned over your well being from what i am seeing here, i did say mostly as such because i figured you would say something along the lines of me needing the help…

          Has anyone ever over the time i’ve been on the internet, EVER seen anyone show any signs of concern for my posting and what i’ve said?? Anyone?? You dont all have to speak up at once???

          That’s correct, not once online yet have i ever seen anyone ever say they were truly and honestly concerned for my well being, midst all my crazy posting, never once did anyone say that they were concerned for my posts and that i maybe needed some help… Never once has anyone said anything until i provoke and prodded someone to who then in a fit of rage only did so in a matter of trying to make me look bad, feel bad, or to be just downright disrespectful. Anything to perpetuate their importance and discredit me, whatever it be.

          Its a real cold world and a terribly cold industry, where people only care for themselves and their little posse or crew and family, and are ready to kill and do anything to hurt or ruin someone with zero signs of compassion or humaneness. Its been a real sad venture and journey for me as im continually let down by people, it hurts a little actually, but never the less, my studies are proving very worthwhile, and i thank them for their fairly obvious behavior and action.

          No chance you’d see me with a degree in psychology as i feel the curriculum is currently outdated and not properly focused, and a degree shouldn’t matter to people, but its still based on that structure so everyone does, but we are easy creatures to fool, so long as i have some piece of paper thats enough for most people to immediately assume someone is worthy and educated to speak on a matter and then therefore placates that person over them, when in reality its nothing more then a piece of paper. Most certainly experience and personal studies play a more crucial role then being able to read a few textbooks suggested by the client. Ive been around long enough and have enough experience to know, a piece of paper hanging on the wall and being textbook learned does not make one qualified and it only goes to show someone has the capacity to come up with a lot of money for schooling and can stick out the term, it no longer holds any value towards what someone actually knows and what makes them qualified as an expert. Yet it continues, to perpetuate old walls and families, and its not doing anyone or the world any favors anymore. Some with a degree are very smart, talented with the expertise needed, most are not, most are just doing a job and that’s what they happened to choose when it came time to. Of course it does seem to work for the majority of people, i just dont see it getting the most and best out of people and overall is a poor use of resources and assets, but heck, as you have shown us Willis, im someone to be discredited and bullied and tossed aside, so thank you for that!

          You see it everywhere, musically, well only those that have sold a certain number of units or are on a certain labels team are considered worthy of being worthy. Its a real tired episode in the constant rerun of humans. Your qualifications mean nothing to me Willis, and while your little crew of gents is likely clapping and here hearing your little joust, all i need is to hear your music Willis and i can see if you walk the walk or just talk the talk. So if youd care to post some of your music, the stuff youre still making today that gives you reason to be around and bothering me, then we can go from there… Im not one of those bitter angered types that only wants you to post it so i can snidely like a kindergarten student attack you for sucking, quite the contrary, i’m not biased like everyone else seems to be and will make my judgment based solely on the work you have done and i have every reason to believe your music is of tip top quality and will give you rousing cheers instead of jeers if you so care to post so we can all witness a true professional at work!

          That’s what i care about Willis. Maybe back in the day there were two sculptors, one was well learned in an established little family and crew who had all the right credentials but never actually sculpted anything good but alas, knew the right people had the right papers, whereas another man/woman perhaps just picked up the chisel and whittled away, eventually results are all that matters and all the other trickery goes by the way side. I’m always just generally curious to see what someone has to back up for themselves. Far too many times people are just not what they say they are and have nothing. They may be copyright trolls, or part of some tech crew, or perhaps are just cops working the wed for big robo scores, who knows. But the bullying and attacks ive experienced over the last decade have been downright mind blowing and a great discovery of how the world truly works and not the veil most people want to keep it covered in.

          So a degree in music composition is great, but in and of itself doesn’t mean anything and while id like to believe you Willis, you do nothing but the same thing all these guys do, that leads me to believe you have some agenda, whatever that may be, and are in some little crew there, a crew that is always attacking me and putting me down and pissing on me and crapping all over me, to perpetuate whatever it is you need to perpetuate Willis, always yall do it, like clockwork, and that can only be for a few reasons, all of which are easy to ascertain.

          That’s one huge problem with this world and people like Willis, the cops that have nothing better to do that are online everywhere, the old bitter men angered their little thing isn’t the end all be all or else gone by the wayside, or everyones corporate interests forcing them into certain actions, in this case totally unnecessary, and the little gangs and crews out there ganging up on people, like me for instance, all for whatever reason they feel they need to. So its been a fun fact finding mission for me.

          Nothing threw me Willis, you are still and always will be marching to the beat of my drum, dancing to the tune of my fiddle, but you stated nothing, said nothing, extrapolated on nothing that would lead me to believe any different then my previous comment, and you typically just did what most of you seem to, bully, toss stones, act bitterly and angered, and overall contributed nothing to anything anywhere. Plenty a well to do man or well respected citizen has shown themselves to be some dark and evil seedy character, plenty a church member sells drugs, plenty a cop is corrupted, and im getting very concerned over people like Willis, the whole world over, and i fear its taking its toll on the kids and the species in general. Its a real tiring thing where people like Willis who claim to be superior and more experienced with more expertise then myself, continually banter about like a kindergarten school bully on the playground at recess looking for some weaker frailer kid to push around.

          Yall need some serious help…


          • Anonymous

            i said client above, my apologies, i meant employee or contractor, as in working for me…

          • jw

            When did the DMN comment section become “free therapy for failed musicians?”

            What you need is some Xanax & a Livejournal & maybe a new hobby that’s not music.

          • Anonymous

            Whoever said it was a hobby?

            And why does everyone want me of music so bad? What sort of threat am I to you?

          • Willis

            You are nowhere near a threat. I would categorize you as more of an annoyance.

          • jw

            There’s no threat. Everything isn’t a conspiracy. You’re just a nuisance.

            We all know who you are, there’s no mistaking your comments. I think anyone who has advised you to do something else with your life has probably reached the point of annoyance that they’ve checked out your music to gage how much patience to exercise with you. And the resounding response seems to be that your music is astoundingly mediocre & commercially non-viable, which makes your abrasive sense of entitlement offensive.

            There’s a difference between self-confidence & delusion.

          • Anonymous

            lol thanks for the comment and reply!

            It only goes to out yourself as being out of the loop and unaware of what is actually going on, so i thank you for that!

            Not that im one to compare or use things to bolster my position or try and hammer home the point to people, but i’m in a country of 33+ million people (yes a tiny meager populace, nevertheless) im one of only 8000 some odd people to make royalties from television/film, while suffering the royal fleece job from everyone including your posse of people…

            I guess that sort of decimates your non commercially viable argument…

            I’m glad im an annoyance to you, that means what i’m doing is effective and that my plan is working…

            Whoever said anything about a conspiracy?? I’m not a conspiracy theory guy, if everyone could please write that down and pin it to their wall for the next time their ego gets damaged from my posting, that would be great, thanks!

            I do appreciate that people have checked out my music and are offering suggestions on what i should do because of it, sadly none of your opinions are worthy of being taken as honest and on the level therefore become immediately moot and irrelevant, but i thank you none the less!

            Ive been around long enough to know that if you make music you just get absolutely hammered and pummeled by people regardless, most people wont even give someone the time of day and have already made their mind up before they even listen to it! Its part of the technique i employ, so thanks again…

            Im not sure what entitlement i have?? Perhaps if you explained to me what sense of entitlement you feel i have it would better prepare me for the world, as apparently to the consensus, a consensus i have yet to see any report on or stats from, i am entitled about something. If you could please enlighten me on what that is that would be amazing!

            Delusional? About what? Someones opinion of me? A group of people who dont like the kind of music i make anyways? A group of people with an agenda or reason to protect their slice of pie who will do anything to protect and perpetuate it? A group of people whos opinion cant be trusted for being honest anyways due to bias? Then i guess by those definitions i would be delusional…

            Ive posted not anonymously before, ive done everything everyone has called me out on, if you like i can post a link, a phone number, an address, and you can be invited to come knock on my door and talk in person, to see who is real and who is not…

            If i wasnt a threat then yall wouldnt be doing what you are doing, your actions confirm as such and your continued lies and words to the contrary only go to further out yall as liars and having agendas, its just basic detective work on a very rudimentary level, and its beautiful, so i thank yall for helping to bolster my case.


          • Anonymous

            thanks for your time, i appreciate the comment and comparison, it means a lot to me… 🙂

          • Anonymous

            hahahaha thanks GGG, sadly, you are far off the mark and actually only goes to further out you and your place in the business, so thanks for that…

            you shouldnt assume anything, perhaps if you met me without being a douche, youd actually find im one of the nicest, kindest, straight up honest on the level ready to discuss openly and thoroughly any matter you want… ask anyone that actually knows me in the real world and they will almost all give me glowing reviews and tell you im not anything like peoples perception of me…

            whoever said everyone was out to get me?

            whoever said im looking for anything from any of you commenters here???????

            i am writing good shit and yes many people are stealing it, more then anything, and dont take this the wrong way, im not here talking to you or saying this to you, im saying it in general to everyone whos viewing and mostly the industry at large, so they know that i know, so that i spread the word so that it permeates, period! im not screaming looking for attention so people believe me… i dont give a damn about it other then the money im out, overall its a compliment and further indication of my success and value and worth to the business and society and the world in general… i keep rattling on about it because they have yet to settle it and im not interested in the same lame old petty litigation b.s., as adults im sure we can all swallow our pride and move on with things, and when i say we, i mean those complicit in this ordeal… you dont have to like it but you better damn accept it and just move on with it!!! you dont have to engage me here, just ignore me, and then all is good and fine… your approval or acceptance GGG, is not something im here looking for or basing my life on….

            i mean do i have to continually game you on a game you clearly have little clue about GGG???

            again, im not bitter about anything, as a producer writer and artist im actually rather honored about it all… as a business man, publisher and label owner, which are the hats im wearing when i reveal the truth of what happened, im obviously frustrated and upset… and how am i defeated?? how am i the walking embodiment of defeat?? hahaha you guys seriously crack me up, im starting to get even further worried about the state of music and the business with all you people still around, scary indeed…

            yall will try any tactic possible to get me to leave your unclaimed turf and territory, to leave your little posse alone…

            i am a normal human being, perhaps you would like some reference numbers so that you can call some clients of mine and talk to them to see what they have to say about me???? You might be surprised….

            look guys, im not looking for discourse with any of you, as ive said numerous times before, just ignore me please, thanks again for your time!

          • Anonymous

            to touch on the commercially viable point again, lets look at this for a moment…

            so my girl charli xcx is currently tabbed as the next big thing in pop, thus making her someone the industry and people in general think of as super commercially viable…

            with a label and backing and a team of people and a budget and a huge fanbase, her last album which was critically acclaimed, in a market of 316 ought million people, she only sold 12000 units… think about that, the next big thing in pop with all the support and fanfare and hype only sold 12000 units in the states… so please, cut the crap and lets keep things in perspective here please…

            you dont have to like me and clearly yall dont, but please, just leave it out already, ignore me, and we can all do our thing just fine… im not here trying to screw anyone or fight anyone or hurt anyone, im just here…

            so again, thanks very much for your time…


          • GGG

            1) What exactly did you “game” me on?

            2) Never said you were looking for something from us. Just that posting 10,000 word manifestos about random shit every time you post, on a very popular website, is tiresome.

            3) I’ve also never said you weren’t nice. You’re just a weird, possibly delusional, crybaby. Or at least that’s how you come across on here.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah i hear you GGG.

            Again man, i aint got no beef with you or anyone, im not into making enemies but will if thats what someone forces me to do, mostly i wait and see what people bring or do to me and then act accordingly based on numerous things…

            not delusional bud i assure you however i also assure you i can most certainly come across as extremely delusional and crazy, part of the act…

            I posted this elsewhere but ill post it here as well just so you can understand why i might appear all those things…

            who’s whining???

            write this down and pin it on your wall so the next time your memory fails you you can look up and remind yourself of whats going on here…

            my internet use is that of a stage, this is my show, so if you dont like what the network is currently playing, then change the channel, that simple…

            too many trackers and spies and stalkers and stans and eyes eyes eyes for me to anything but just put on an elaborate crazy show with the internet, period! its all entertainment…

            thing is, i aint looking for direct feedback from anyone but my fans and certainly not in any way but direct and tangibly, to my email or phone me or come see me, but certainly please dont butt your nose into my show and try and jump up on my stage, shut your mouth, put your hands in your lap and enjoy the freaking show!!!!

            on another note, anyone interested in being a part of my show or advertising within it, please let me know, im sure we can work something out…

            thanks for your time and if you like me then thank-you thank-you thank-you, i appreciate it very much and i love you and i do this for you, if you hate me, go impale yourself on a stick and save me atilla hunning… thanks!

            dont worry about impaling yourself, its comedic commentary delivered in a cynical manner written more for imagery and synapse purposes… if you find yourself agravated or upset over it, its an ego anti ego play that works a charm on many people…

            cheers man, if you want peace and prefer being friends, im cool with that and would prefer that…


  6. Name2

    w.i.a.: “Wearing headphones with Maya Angelou. That’s MINE! I did that shit FIRST!”

    Dead Maya Angelou: “Uhhhhhhh….”

  7. danwriter

    Now we know what it would have been like if Ted Kaczynski had been a musician.

  8. butumbut

    Since most majors are part investors in these services why is it necessary to ALSO create them?

    Also vertical integration within the music ecosystem would certainly mean you would NEVER get paid since all the same players would control the recoup..

    I agree that far too often tunes are licensed under the guise of “promotion” when that license was the sale itself. We need to get better deals and residuals when we do licensing for video games, TV etc..