About 3 weeks ago, I blogged about Warner Music Group (WMG) making people take down personal YouTube videos that contained songs performed by WMG artists.
This morning, while working out at the gym, I was reading one of my favorite magazines, Wired. I came across this essay: Why the Music Industry Hates Guitar Hero. Now, go read that and tell me if the WMG CEO Edgar Bronfman doesn’t come off as a pompous ass.
Basically, now that he sees the success that Guitar Hero and Rock Band is having, Bronfman is whining like a little kid. When the game makers first approached WMG about using it’s artists’ music, WMG should have made them pay more then, instead of letting them sign low-cost synchronization licenses. WMG didn’t have the foresight to predict that these games would be big money makers and now they’re acting like little babies because they didn’t ask for a bigger cut.
But, that’s pretty much what they’ve been doing since the advent of digital music. They weren’t smart enough to see the potential of digital media, so instead of being proactive and figuring out how to make money with the new media, they were reactive and went after P2Ps and college students. Bronfman even admitted that they made a mistake with that tactic, as can be seen in this quote. Though, he also seems to be declaring “war” on consumers, and I really fail to see the business value in that move. (Oh, and, I’m sorry, Mr. Bronfman, but war is never inadvertent! It is one of the most intentional acts humans do. You chose to start this war. And, now you are crying about it because things aren’t going your way.)
So, what are the consequences of Mr. Pompous Ass’s latest actions? MTV, the makers of Guitar Hero, one of the most popular and prolific games right now, are going to boycott any WMG artists. And, who does that ultimately hurt? The artists! Because of Bronfman’s greed, many artists are going to be facing a tougher time than they should be in this recession.
And, WMG doesn’t seem to be faring any better. WMG Stock hit an all time low on Tuesday of $1.58 and closed at $1.85 on Wednesday. This means the stock price is equal to what it costs to buy a single. “Not an album, a SINGLE. A 45.”
Bronfman and his ilk claim that they’re trying to fight “piracy” so they can protect their artist’s creative content. Bullshit. They are trying to improve their profits. Plain and simple.
Writer Ken Fisher said it best in January in his article, Privately, Hollywood admits DRM isn’t about Piracy:
DRM’s sole purpose is to maximize revenues by minimizing your rights and selling them back to you…There is simply no evidence whatsoever that DRM slows piracy. In fact, all of the evidence suggests the opposite, and arguments that DRM “keeps honest people honest” are frankly insulting. If they’re already honest, they don’t need DRM…It’s not piracy that’s the concern, it’s their ability to control how you use the content you purchase.
This is going to be a very interesting issue to watch, especially now, as the Pirate Bay trial is in session. I predict that the music industry, especially Mr. Bronfman and WMG, is in for a very bumpy ride because of their stubbornness.
The digital age is redefining and reinventing all sorts of information, including music. And, if the music industry wants to survive, it MUST change it’s business model. It needs to take a cue from Hollywood, who, when threatened by the advent of VCRs, got creative and figured out how to make money with it, rather than complaining that the new technology didn’t support their current operating practices.