Legendary music producer Rick Rubin, who has produced everything from Run DMC and the Beastie Boys to Aerosmith and The Cult, has some positive words to say about the music biz. He reckons it has the potential to be bigger and better than ever. The head of legendary label Def Jam has just been appointed co-Chairman of Columbia Records, and he reckons that it’s never better time for music, it’s just that the industry has to look at music from a listener’s perspective.
He says “People love music more than they ever have and … are willing to pay for music. It’s just a question of finding the best way for that to happen, without holding onto any of the past. I think with certain artists you want to hear their album … and then there are other artists who I like where maybe it’s more about the single. I don’t think there is going to be one way that everything works. I think people will have many more options and choices of how to digest music, and hopefully the labels will get to the point where they are in the business of serving the audience instead of trying to hold on to an old model. Ultimately if they do service the audience, I think it’s going to be a big business — a bigger business than it has ever been.”
He explains that the music industry is just a service provider like all others, and that they hav to think like that, “to focus on the user experience [and] think less about how it affects the company in the short term and more about how you can provide a service that people can’t live without”
As to his new role at Columbia, he says he hasn’t sold out – he’s still on the side of the artist. “My job is the same as it is when I’m in the studio producing a record — to share my opinions, be honest and truthful,” he says. “Ultimately it is like the role of a coach. The artist ultimately, at the end of the day, gets to do what they want to do. And in the case of the company, the company at the end of the day gets to do what they want to do. I try to be the voice of reason and positive creativity and sometimes other people have other ideas, and it’s all cool.”