Universal Music CEO Doug Morris has confessed the world's biggest record label didn't have a clue about technology and ran to iTunes as a saviour when it faced destruction at the hands of the file-sharing sound wave.
Interviewed by Wired, Morris acknowledged his firm was slow to adapt to technological change, and admits that while the money it earns from iTunes sales is too good to pass up, he still feels the label to be ensnared in "golden handcuffs" by iTunes.
Morris reveals that when iTunes approached Universal to propose a legitimate music sales model in 2003, the company was then desperate to find such a partner, and that the Mac-only service (as was) seemed a safe risk, as it appealed to a smaller market share.
"There's no one in the record company that's a technologist," Morris said. "That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?
"We didn't know who to hire. I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person - anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me," Morris adds.
On the value of music, Morris notes that an album an artist works on for two years is now worth only a few dollars in an age in which a cup of coffee can cost two. "Is that right?" he asks.
But Morris now believes insisting on DRM was a mistake, as it allowed Apple to place proprietary restrictions around song use.
"We were just grateful that someone was selling online. The problem is, he became a gatekeeper. We make a lot of money from him, and suddenly you're wearing golden handcuffs. We would hate to give up that income."
Now Morris is attempting to nurture competing music services in order to regain some strength in future negotiations
This year, 22 per cent of all music sold in the US will move through iTunes.