Warner Music Complains That Rock Band And Guitar Hero Need To Pay More For Music

from the are-they-serious? dept

And here they go again. Despite the fact that the games Guitar Hero and Rock Band have breathed new life into various musical acts and helped pump up sales of certain artists, the recording industry is starting to complain. It seems unable to recognize how something that promotes its music or makes that music more valuable is beneficial — instead freaking out that it’s somehow being ripped off. Proving, once again, that they overvalue content and undervalue the service that makes that content valuable, Warner Music’s Edgar Bronfman is bitching and complaining that Rock Band and Guitar Hero aren’t paying enough for music:

“The amount being paid to the music industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small.”

Fine. This is the point at which both of those video games should stop using any Warner Music content, and see how Bronfman feels when everyone else is jamming to content from his competitors, increasing the attention and sales that they get — while Warner musicians are left out in the cold. Once again, we’re seeing how Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s supposed epiphany about the digital age of music was no such thing.

The industry simply assumes that, if something makes use of their content, all of the value is in the content. That’s incorrect. Yes, the content is a part of the value, but it’s the game that’s making that content valuable. This is the same thing that’s been true of so many other services that the industry has freaked out about — from Napster to YouTube to Seeqpod and many others. Until the recording industry recognizes that this isn’t a zero sum game, and someone out there promoting your content is helping to make it more valuable, the industry is never going to figure out how to really adapt.

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Companies: warner music group

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Comments on “Warner Music Complains That Rock Band And Guitar Hero Need To Pay More For Music”

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AJ says:


You wrote: “This is the point at which both of those video games should stop using any Warner Music content, and see how Bronfman feels when everyone else is jamming to content from his competitors…”

Actually COMPETE? Are you NUTS? Why, the record industry would have to close down if they actually had to COMPETE!!

No, we need to pay six or seven times the price just so Warner music can stay in business and do us the favor they are doing for us now by just existing!

Anonymous Coward says:

It might be interesting if GH put out an indie version with some really great music on it. Charge a bit less for this edition because of the reduced cost of royalties.

This might get the attention of the recording industry. Unfortunately the recording industry would probably respond by getting a law passed that said they had to get paid for any music content, even if it isn’t theirs. It is so much easier and more profitable to just buy a few Senators than it is to actually compete.

JJ says:

RIAA = Music Pimps?

With the internet being every ounce as good of a distribution and promotion medium as the recording industries were 20+ years ago, tell me why they are still as important to the industry as they once were? Seems to me that if they, the middle men, were simply cut out of the picture, music would still be distributed and sold. The only side effects of course would be that the musicians see more profit from their music sales (which they currently see very little of as the recording industries take a nice big wet bite out of the profit they generate) and the market wouldn’t be so bottled up and we, the consumers, might see more bands produce music as a result of it being easier to introduce themselves into the marketplace. Hmmm ya that would probably suck though…

Mort says:

Taking a page from the patent thicket industry

I think the music industry is just taking a page from the patent thicket industry. In that industry, if Company A patents a way to make a light blink, then Company B produces an intergalactic supercomputer which happens to use blinking lights, Company A naturally believes that all of the value of the supercomputer is due to their blinking light patent (because clearly, supercomputers have no value without blinking lights). They then proceed to sue Company B for patent infringement, asking either that the intergalactic supercomputer be no longer manufactured or sold, or that all of the income that Company B derived from their supercomputer sales should be awarded to Company A. Clearly, for Company A, all of the value of the intergalactic supercomputer can be attributed solely to the blinking lights.

In the same way, as Mike pointed out, the music industry believes that in no matter what context their product is used, it’s their product and their content that supplies all of the value. For example, all of the value of going to the mall and listening to piped-in music is provided by the music, right? Take away the music, and the mall is worthless, no?

What a load of steaming horse crap.

Cabal (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ummm, because you paid the “inflated” price you justified the price point. If you didn’t think it was worth it, don’t pay it. Value is always what the market will pay, and not a penny more.

The purpose of music labels has always been to create new markets and monetize an intangible product. As a result, content providers have always operated outside of the standard economic systems. With limited exceptions, there is no supply curve, only a demand curve… and that demand curve rarely is generated in a vaccuum.

In the case of RB and GH, Bronfman has a bit of a point. Demand exists for much of the WB (and every other) label as a result of the actions they took to create the demand.

RB and GH leverage the existing demand in order to sell their product. If that wasn’t the case, GH wouldn’t have released an Aerosmith version and RB/GH wouldn’t post the most commonly known songs in prominent locations on the packaging.

With that said, Bronfman is a bit of an idiot too. Instead of asking for more cash, he should exchange licensing for well known content for the addition of lesser known content. The mere presence of a band in the RB/GH universe adds value to that band through enhanced exposure and name recognition… which is the WHOLE point of a record label.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Demand exists for much of the WB (and every other) label as a result of the actions they took to create the demand.”

“RB and GH leverage the existing demand in order to sell their product.”

Erm, what? I don’t think you understand the situation here. WB have a library of songs, some of which were of interest to the game companies, but not vital. First of all, the record companies refused to licence the original music, so the first GH was all cover versions. That game proved to be successful anyway. With GH3 and RB, the original versions were licenced, in reaction to the demand created *by the games*. Yes, the orignal song versions being present is a selling point, but there are many others.

Now, because both of these games have been incredibly successful (not due to anything WB did), WB is insisting on more money because *they* didn’t recognise the full potential when licencing the games. However, that’s ignoring the fact that almost every songs featured on the game had experienced a large increase in sales – i.e. more profit to WB.

The success of GH3 and RB had little to do with the exact songs. Maybe some people would have bought the games because of the presence of a particular song. However, many more people will have bought it because of the new wireless controllers, that fact that they’re already fans of the series or want to rock out with the new features created by the game makers, or the fact that Wii versions have been made. This is pretty much free advertising in a market WB have had to do nothing to create. Yet, still they demand more…

I agree with the points above about boycotting WB music on these games, and adding more indy music. Other majors have decently large catalogues to make up for the lack of WB artists, and the average player won’t notice. WB are not entitled to extra revenue just because they underestimated how popular a game series was going to be. I doubt they’d have shared the losses if the games had not been successful, so they’re not entitled to reap the reward created by *making good games*, not just licencing the music.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Then put that in the contract...

Actually, I’m gonna bet they said “yep, that’s a fair price…(sucker!!!)”.

I bet the music industry licenses content out to all sorts of initiatives that don’t make money. But when they miss a trend (and thus license it “too cheaply”), they freak out like this.

If I were in their shoes (and had their warped view of the world), I’d be looking to get a piece of any and all pies I license out to.

Anonymous Coward says:

If he has a problem with it, then why did they agree to let RB and GH use “their” tracks at the “far too small” amount?

If Warner is the content owner, then they would have had to agreed in advance right? I mean is he saying that they stole it from them? What the F is that idiot talking about?

Oh, right, he lives in a fantasy world of content hoarding.

wasnt me! says:

it is time!!!

a few years back some celebrities namely actors started to get annoyed that the Press was following them so closely and they started suing for invasion of privacy. The press wasn’t happy about that and started boycotting all event of said celebrities (premieres and other announcements) only then the actors realized that they needed the press more than the press needed them.

i think its time for companies and end users to start to do the same. if Rock Band And Guitar Hero start using only music from artists that are embracing the new business models the RIAA and music labels such as Warner Music will not be able to ask for any more of those ridiculous fees, and artists like Duff, Trent Reznor etc… will be glad to “help”

Stephen says:


1. I agree with the comment – just refuse to release any new content based on Warner Bro’s licensed music. Wait until the artists themselves all riot

2. Why not consider an “open” version where anyone can annotate their own music and turn it into a Rock Band or Guitar Hero hit. Imagine the indie artists who’d have a new path to success.

Russ L says:

Re: Suggestions

Actually, the new GH game coming out later this year will feature a music creator/generator and, last I heard, will allow people to exchange the music they create.

It should get really interesting when people start recreating well-known songs that might be in demand but have yet to actually make it into the game as a licensed track.

zcat (profile) says:

Reminds me of..

Something that happened in New Zealand a few years back. TVNZ got into a massive dispute with the record industry about how much they should be paying to play music videos. So for the duration of the dispute, TVNZ stopped playing any, and the only thing remotely like a music video on TV was a very long Toyota commercial featuring the song “Welcome to Our World”.

You may not believe that a country song could hit #1 on the record charts and stay there for six weeks. But it did.

I think the recording industry are due a few more examples like that to remind them who’s getting value from whom.

Mark Regan says:

Royalties? Send them a bill for promoting their music!

Your author is right on target. The “big four” music companies control the artists/performers/writers through their royalty system, and the producers/directors/engineers/studios through the production system they OWN, and the entire distribution system from the manufacturing plant to the retailer.

The only way to combat them is to support independent studios, free ware, and for the gamers and music buyers and YouTubes of the world to refuse to buy or play their music. Send them bills for promoting them via the video sites for all the free publicity they receive. If they refuse to pay, then let them advertise on Billboard and television, and see how expensive that can be.

DanC says:

Re: Tech Dirt

You people are fucking idiots

I seem to remember a conversation I had with you a few weeks ago where you displayed a stunning lack of understanding of the basics of copyrights and patents.

If the only thing you’re pulling from these articles and discussions is “bitching and whining”, then apparently your comprehension has not improved. In any case, insulting people over topics that you don’t understand is both childish and myopic.

tek'a says:

Re: Tech Dirt

“Does Tech Dirt do anything but bitch and whine about Copyright and Patent laws?”

Copyright and “IP” law are important subjects for Techdirt, because the stunningly bad decisions made by companies and lawmakers ultimately end up affecting the other things we care about.
for example..
Bad patent trolls getting bad rulings and rewards, increasing the price we pay for the things we want.

Foolish corporations buying laws to “protect” their content and ultimately destroying the value of that content while saddling you and me with restrictions that have no connection to common sense.

Poor governmental decisions being made when faced with a changing world, an endless quest for security that ends up taking Away security and personal rights in foolish ways.

Bad laws to cover fake crimes that still label people as real criminals.

Or, in shorter terms Michial.. the only one spreading “rubish” is you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Tech Dirt

Actually they have been pretty open about letting others “re produce” thier work for years, sometimes even uncredited. Some people dont mind creating (some actually do it without any hope or want of compensation) and see the benefit of thier works being distributed freely. Others sadly go the more prehistoric way of the courts and eventually the dinosaurs.

shmengie says:

this horse has been flogged...

we all agree that the riaa, the mpaa, ad nauseum are dead/dying/stupid. here’s what i want to know:

is there anyone here who agrees with bronfman? surely, there must be an intelligent argument from the *other* side. seriously, i’d like to hear what you have to say about this. and let’s all try to be nice to anyone who comes forward. they know they’re stepping into the lion’s den.


Travis says:

I just read some of the comments in another article where Michial was posting in. They are pretty hilarious.

“I’m a Computer Programmer, have written and published a number of software applications. What gives anyone the right to take my work and do anything with it at any time in the work’s existance????????????????”

Well as a computer programmer I’m sure you have copied lots of other peoples code to get something done. What gives you the right to take their work and use it as your own? You owe them money. If you even try and say you have never looked at someones code and copied it verbatim or even slightly modified it you are a liar.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The amount being paid to the music industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small.”

This quote is amazing. I could change it to be this:
“The amount being paid to the artists, even though the record companies are entirely dependent on the content they create, is far too small.”

Juan (user link) says:

This is what's gonna happen

I was affcted by them in youtube my videos used under fair use for educational purposes were beng muted.
1 day pplz are gonna get sooo damn pissed off since they pick on everything from youtube to games, pplz are simply gonna pick their competitors sooo artists to not get hungry will also switch and sign with others and warner is gonna go bankrupt for their greed and stupidity.
I will laugh at that guy Edgar Bronfman when he goes broke and sells WMG for a buck lolxz

Stoatwblr (profile) says:

Reminds me of..

22 years ago.

“In 1986 TVNZ took all music shows off the air following a dispute with record companies, who were demanding payment for video clips that were becoming increasingly expensive to produce. TVNZ refused to pay to screen them on the grounds that this was ‘a form of sales promotion’. The dispute was resolved by the end of the year and the shows returned to air. “

That “dispute was resolved” is putting it nicely.

The record companies _begged_ TVNZ to air music videos again as sales had fallen substantially (lack of exposure, plus the record-buying public put the blame for not seeing music videos firmly on the shoulders of the music industry.)

Several weeks before the end of the dispute, TVNZ was paid full commercial advertising rates to air Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” during an ad break in the 6pm news. It was subsequently aired several more times as a paid advert.

That’s not just a surrender, it’s a full scale crying of “Uncle!”

It’s worth also noting that the seed of the idea for MTV came from New Zealand – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_with_Pictures

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