Edgar Bronfman Rewrites History, Has A Pretend Epiphany

from the not-quite-there-yet,-cuz dept

My distant cousin Edgar Bronfman Jr., the head of Warner Music, is getting some attention today for his remarks at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau, where he seemed to be admitting to past mistakes in how the recording industry treated customers. However, when you look at the details, there’s a bit of revisionist history, and not a full realization of what’s going on. In saying “we were wrong,” Bronfman concludes: “By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won.” This sounds nice and plenty of folks will want to believe it, but it’s totally wrong, and Bronfman knows it. After all, it was Edgar Bronfman Jr. himself who very actively declared war on consumers who were file trading in the summer of 2000. As the head (at the time) of Universal Music, Bronfman Jr. announced that he was preparing to send “an army of lawyers” after file sharers. That’s not “standing still or moving at a glacial pace.” The “war” wasn’t inadvertent. It was an active decision by Bronfman Jr., which kicked off the entire RIAA war against consumers.

As for the rest of his “epiphany,” don’t buy it. About the only thing he seems to have realized (way too late) is that Apple isn’t the enemy. He does say, repeatedly, that they need to offer a better customer experience, but he’s said that before. And he’s talking about the mobile industry, which he’s talked up before, without realizing that the troubles it faced were coming from the ridiculous requirements (pricing, DRM, bundles) that he required them to have. Just a couple months ago, Bronfman was going on and on about why the record labels need to come up with new ways to make ubiquitous content more scarce, and the only reason he’s so focused on the mobile platform is because he (incorrectly) thinks it allows the record labels to have more control. So, while it’s nice that he finally (sorta) realizes that going to war with consumers is a bad idea, he doesn’t seem to actually understand what happened or how to really fix things. Of course, we’re more than willing to help him sort out the problems and come up with a better model. I’ll even provide a discount for being family.

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Comments on “Edgar Bronfman Rewrites History, Has A Pretend Epiphany”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Don't keep your hopes up

While this guy remains the head of Warner Music, there will never be an actual admittal that they were wrong to do what they did, nor any strategy to suggest that. The reason is that he is the captain of a sinking ship, and he needs to distract shareholders from the fact that he was the one who steered it into the iceberg.

As often suggested here and elsewhere, the immediate solutions are simple – remove DRM, price their products competitively, pump money into signing talented new bands instead of karaoke contests for new ‘artists’, cease suing their customers and add value to their wares in order to make them appealing to people who will buy them.

The mobile space is a fleeting fad that does not appeal to most people outside their “core”demographic, while they are systematically alienating 3 generations of people who used to buy their products. If they continue to try and flog crippled products to the under 16s, they only have themselves to blame when the major labels start to go under.

Enkerli (user link) says:

Still Shocking

You’re right, of course. It’s more damage-control than outright admission of guilt. But, still, coming from Bronfman, it’s a really surprising statement. Not only was he adamant at fighting tooth and nail for the only business model he seemed to know, but he was possibly the last remaining Recording Industry CEO to be completely clueless. Of course, he’s also one of the most ridiculed CEOs in the industry…
The fact that he seems to have suddenly received a blow from a clue stick makes for much entertainment value.

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