Warner’s Middlebronfman: Jobs’ DRM-free music call ‘without logic and merit, we’ll not abandon DRM’

“Warner Music Group, the world’s fourth largest music company, said on Thursday it will keep anti-piracy copy protection for digital songs sold on services such as Apple Inc.’s iTunes Music Store,” Reuters reports.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Tuesday called for DRM-free music sales online in an open letter posted on Apple’s website.

Reuters reports, “Warner Music chief executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. said in a call with analysts that the argument to drop copy protection also known as digital rights management (DRM) is “without logic and merit. We will not abandon DRM.”

Full article here.
The situation is crystal clear: Apple is anti-DRM and at least one major music label, along with their partner in crime, Microsoft, favors DRM.

Warner’s Middlebronfman has in the past also expressed his desire for a cut of Apple’s iPod sales; a desire that defines the phrase “without logic and merit,” not only because such a deal is unprecedented in the history of music playing devices (besides Microsoft’s desperate deal with music labels and the failing Zune), but because Warner would presumably get a cut of all iPod sales regardless of whether any Warner music is actually on each device.

Note also that the vast bulk of Warner’s music profits comes from selling DRM-free CDs. Talk about illogical! DRM is so easily removed, that it’s pointless. The mass pirates, about whom the music labels are supposedly worried, aren’t going to let a little DRM get in their way, so the only people that DRM is affecting are regular, law-abiding consumers who just want to listen to their music. Thankfully, Apple’s iTunes Store does allow music to be burned without DRM to music CD to be played in CD players and/or transferred to any device they desire. We are all for selling music without DRM.

It is time to eliminate the Middlebronfman and allow the artists to go directly to their fans via iTunes; no more outdated ideas like making an album a year (you write a song, record it and release it via iTunes whenever the creative urge hits) and no more DRM. With The Beatles’ Apple Corps settlement behind them, Apple is free to do just that.

[Note: MacDailyNews coined the term “Middlebronfman,” a combination of “middleman” and “Bronfman,” in an article on Monday, October 03, 2005 with the sentence, “Eliminate the middlebronfman.” Full article here.]

Related articles:
Dvorak: Apple CEO Steve Jobs is dead right about DRM – February 07, 2007
Apple’s Jobs jolts music industry; Zune exec calls Jobs’ call for DRM-free music ‘irresponsible’ – February 07, 2007
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ posts rare open letter: ‘Thoughts on Music’ – calls for DRM-free music – February 06, 2007
Apple Inc. and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. enter into new agreement – February 05, 2007
Norwegian Ombudsman: Apple’s FairPlay DRM is illegal in Norway – January 24, 2007
Major music labels ponder DRM-free future – January 23, 2007
Clash, Pink Floyd manager: ‘DRM is dead’ – November 06, 2006
Study reports the obvious: most music on iPods not from iTunes Store – September 17, 2006
Warner’s Middlebronfman: ‘We sell our songs through iPods, but we don’t have share of iPod revenue’ – October 05, 2005
Warner music exec discusses decapitation strategy for Apple iTunes Music Store – September 28, 2005
Warner CEO Bronfman: Apple iTunes Music Store’s 99-cent-per-song model unfair – September 23, 2005


  1. I wish I could see the full text of Bronfman’s response. How does he dispute the logic of no more DRM? Can he show that it’s working? I just can’t understand it. If there’s no DRM on CDs then what’s the point of DRM for online files? Where’s his logic?

    I’ve said it before, this mess is all the labels fault. They have to lower the price of music. That gravy train has left. CDs cost way too much and truth is so do online files.

    They would make up in more sales what they would get in profit margin by lowering the price. What’s better? Zero sales for a $17.99 CD, 1 sale for a $9.99 download or 10 sales for a $4.99 CD/MP3?

  2. Jobs did in fact invite people to envision a DRM-free world… but he was not trying to threaten anybody or act like a bully or put a gun to people’s heads. Jobs said that if it would ever happen, Apple would embrace it. They’re taking his manifesto out of context.

    Don’t make Jobs the villain record labels… or call him irresponsible… he just wants the customer to also win. But then again… that would sound like villainy to Warner.

  3. Apple needs to get some DRM-free Independent music on the iTunes store for Jobs’ claim to have more validity. He should have launched a DRM-free section on iTunes in conjunction with his open letter. While he’s at it, let’s get a Lossless option. Even without the DRM, I’m not buying anymore iTunes content (music or video) until the quality improves (lossless and HD video).

  4. @flappo
    Awesome concept….any Joe on the street can currently post a podcast with artwork on iTunes…why not DRM free Music from both established artist as well as 3 guys in a garage….artist get direct and higher % payment from Apple iTunes sale.

  5. What Warner provided is Apple’s answer to the European call for removal of DRM from songs purchased from iTunes. Actually this is part of the answer as Europe is calling for Apple to license Fairplay to it’s competitors. Steve Job’s letter and Warner’s response together explain why Apple must use DRM and why it chooses not to license Fairplay. Seems to me if the European countries who are calling for Apple to license Fairplay do not accept this answer, then Apple must stop selling songs in those countries in order to avoid breaking the law in those countries.

    Gotta love the big 4 $&%&BS; music companies. <sigh>


  6. It is getting to a point we do not need a CD, so we don’t need companies like Warner Music Group. The artists should start thinking about the future and go directly to their fans via iTunes, and or others to distribute music.

    I need a CD like I need an eight track tape.

  7. More from Bronfman/Warner conference call:

    Bronfman rejected Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs’s public plea to drop digital-rights management coding on versions of songs sold online.

    “We advocate the continued use of DRM in the protection of our and our artists’ intellectual property,” Bronfman said on a conference call with analysts. “The notion that music does not deserve the same protections as software, television, films, video games or other intellectual property, simply because there is an unprotected legacy product available in the physical world, is completely without logic or merit.”


    (Replays of the conference call are on http://www.wmg.com .)

    Net income dropped 74 percent to $18 million, or 12 cents a share, from $69 million, or 46 cents, a year earlier, New York- based Warner Music said today in a statement. That missed the 26 cent average estimate compiled by Bloomberg. Sales declined 11 percent to $928 million.

    Maybe Bronfman is looking for a way to deflect attention ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  8. Jobs placed the onus for DRM on the music industry where it belongs and that’s good enough for me. Hopefully, Norwegian ombudsmen et al can read English or, at least, find a useable translation of “the letter” in their native language.

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