Edgar Bronfman Ventures Somewhat Into Digital Music

from the slowly,-slowly... dept

You may remember Edgar Bronfman Jr. from when he was head of Universal Music about five years ago and announced that he was preparing to send armies of lawyers after file traders while talking about how dangerous it was for people to be “anonymous” online — but things would be much better if the big entertainment firms had much more control over how the internet worked. While people didn’t necessarily believe he really would send the army of lawyers — they certainly did come and they certainly did sue, though it doesn’t appear the strategy has been working at all (file sharing is way up). Bronfman eventually got bounced out of Universal and bought his way back into Warner Music, which he quickly took public despite plenty of questions about his plans. When he first came back to Warner, he talked about the importance of digital music, but still based on the idea that it was music that the industry could control. So, it’s no surprise today to see his plans for a new “e-label” that would release songs digitally only, but with stringent copy protection. He of course says how he doesn’t like the idea of government involvement, unless it’s to tax blank media — but not if that tax allows people to share files. What he doesn’t seem to recognize is that this copy protection makes what he’s trying to sell less appealing and less valuable — which decreases sales. The details about the e-label plan does have some good ideas in it — including the idea that artist retains the copyright and the masters, and that they don’t have to release a whole album at a time. However, some of the plan seems a bit strange. The fact that they won’t release CDs is missing the point. They should be offering people a choice. Also, while the idea of not waiting for a full album is an intriguing one, you have to wonder if the whole idea of releasing downloadable songs in “clusters” is more about forcing users to buy bad songs to get the good songs they want.

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Comments on “Edgar Bronfman Ventures Somewhat Into Digital Music”

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Permanent4 (profile) says:

And we need Warner Music for this...why?

Ummmmm… Why would any band sign up for a deal like this when they can do the same thing themselves for a lot cheaper? Anyone can create a four-song disc, send it in to CD Baby, and get it on every digital music service from iTunes on down within months, if that. It costs $100, and the band can point people from their web sites to whatever digital download service they choose. (Buy our tracks at MP3Tunes.com for only $0.88 each! No DRM!)

Plus, the band keeps the rights to all their music anyway and very likely makes a lot more per sale. Oh yeah, and if they’re good, there’s a whole army of podcasters out there willing to help them build an audience and sell their discs.

It’s good to see someone in his position experimenting, but knowing Bronfman’s recent history, he’s probably going to screw this e-label up so badly that netlabels will eat his lunch.

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