Warner Music's U-Turn On Apple
It was a kind of "stop the presses!" moment when Warner Music boss Edgar Bronfman took the stage earlier this week at the big GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau, telling the assembled guests that they should embrace the model put forth by Apple Inc . Wired News calls this a "Hell freezes over" moment!
A little background here: Bronfman has been a longtime and vocal critic of Apple, the iTunes pricing scheme and of course the company's revenue sharing plan. He has insisted in the past on variable pricing, calling the Apple model unfair, calling Warner Music the "arms supplier in the device wars between Samsung, Sony, Apple and others."
Now, widespread coverage of what appears to be a dramatic change of heart: "We used to fool ourselves," he said. "We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? 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."
It's a stunning turn of events just days after Michael Eisner's inane remarks that striking Hollywood writers should picket Apple as the real problem plaguing the entertainment world. And days after Marc Andreessen posted a poignant blogabout exactly what's perplexing the entertainment industry as it tries to adapt to fast-changing technology.
So, talk about catching religion! Bronfman adds: "For years now, Warner Music has been offering a choice to consumers at Apple's iTunes Store the option to purchase something more than just single tracks, which constitute the mainstay of that store's sales. By packaging a full album into a bundle of music with ringtones, videos and other combinations and variation we found products that consumers demonstrably valued and were willing to purchase at premium prices. And guess what? We've sold tons of them. And with Apple's co-operation to make discovering, accessing and purchasing these products even more seamless and intuitive, we'll be offering many, many more of these products going forward."
And there's more: Bronfman gushed that the new iPhone is "beautifully designed," featuring "brilliantly written software," also a "spectacular user-interface....that throws all the accepted notions about pricing, billing platforms and brand loyalty right out the window."
Bronfman's oh-my-god moment must have been something to behold. You just gotta wonder whether the rest of Hollywood is laughing. Or crying. I know which one Steve Jobs is probably doing.
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