Jobs makes angry call to local music association

Apple CEO goes to war with Chiswick-based group over ITunes

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It must be intimidating enough to be told that there is a corporate legend on the other end of phone wishing to speak to you, but even more so when you find out that he is very angry with you. This is exactly what happened to Alison Wenham, who heads the Association of Independent Music (Aim) a three-man operation based here in Chiswick. The man on the other end of the phone was Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple.

Last week saw the European launch of ITunes, Apple's much-lauded online music store that has been operating with huge success in America for a little over a year.

To make this launch possible, Apple had to make deals with the big five international record labels being Sony, BMG, EMI, Universal and Warner, however, contrary to Apple's claim, they have not yet reached agreement with the independent record companies, which although are significantly smaller, they still account for about 25% of Europe's music sales.  

It is these deals that have become the subject of an escalating and bitter dispute between Steve Jobs and Alison Wenham.

Wenham remained unfazed when industry giant Jobs telephoned her in her Chiswick office last week accusing her of being 'mean and nasty'.  Jobs was fuming after Wenham distributed leaflets at the glitzy ITunes launch party contradicting Apple's claims of reaching deals with the Independents. 

Wenham told “Apple has come to the UK market, which is good news however, without the independents, which make up 25% of the market; they are lacking a huge amount of music.   Apple is used to playing David to Microsoft's Goliath, and yet here they are playing the part of Goliath to out David.”

She went on to say “Apple have made many statements to the press that the small companies have been offered the same terms as those offered to the majors, which simply isn't true, and even their own negotiating team have confirmed this. The companies may be individually small, but they are organised, purposeful and proud. Why should their music be worth less, simply because it isn't issued by a multinational company?   Until the terms are acceptable, the independents will stay away, knowing that many other services are proud to work with them and treat them fairly.”

The conflict continues.

June 27, 2004