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It is time to eliminate the Middlebronfman and allow the artists to go directly to their fans via iTunes; no more outdated ideas like making an album a year (you write a song, record it and release it via iTunes whenever the creative urge hits) and no more DRM.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

67 Comments

  1. “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. “

    Actually, I don’t think the industry’s problems have anything to do with DRM or even the cost of music.

    The real problem is that they put out complete crap.

    If there was actually good music, people would buy it.

  2. who owns emusic?
    Apple should buy them and then offer a hefty amount of independent DRM free stuff.
    Then they shall do what they never did before, break down the sales figures of their Itune sale just to prove to the big four that DRM is burden on music sales.

  3. Question: What would DRM-free music do to the music download industry?

    Answer: INSTANTLY KILL the “all you can eat” subscription plans on day one. People would sign up. Download 10,000 songs. Cancel after one month.

    I for one, wouldn’t mind a subscription service. I download LOTS from iTunes, and I’d save money.

    For this reason, among others, I don’t think that DRM is “all bad” for consumers.

  4. This is it, folks. This is what I’ve been waiting for since the iPod was released, the REAL Apple records, the one that eliminates the big 4 all together, and lets artists market their music directly to consumers.
    The big labels are dead. So utterly redundant and unnecessary, they have their giant back-catalogs to protect, but no value to attract the new or emerging artist. They are the lumbering corporate behemoths, the faceless powers, that so many artists profess to loathe. But until today (or maybe a couple of Tuesdays from today) they were the only game in town. And to play that game, artists had to give up control of their work and much of the profit derived from it. It’s exploitive, it’s anti-creative, and it’s just plain sleazy, and it gives us nothing in return for its existence but endless reincarnations of The New Kids on the Block and Madonna.

    They sell shit. And shit-sellers never last, because after a while people get tired of their shit.
    So yeah, this is going to change the whole game. The recording industry should be collecting moving boxes in their spare time, because it’s not going to be long before they close up shop. Goodbye payola, goodbye sleazy A&R douchebags, goodbye crappy royalty deals. The vast army of people in the music business who don’t make music for a living are about to get shaken to the ground.

    -c

  5. Another reason that Bronfman may be pissed

    A judge has noticed that the purpose of Copyright Law isn’t just to protect the music industry. The purpose of the law is to enrich the public by access to creative works. That judicial insight led this judge to think about the defendant’s situation, what she had been through, what she was facing, and what Copyright Law would end up like if he didn’t make it a little bit less one-sided in his courtroom.

    This is a significant development; the landmark case could have dramatic repercussions for the RIAA’s legal campaign against file sharers, since a precedent now exists for the RIAA to compensate wrongfully-sued defendants for their legal costs.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070208021454284

    A judge has noticed that the purpose of Copyright Law isn’t just to protect the music industry. The purpose of the law is to enrich the public by access to creative works. That judicial insight led this judge to think about the defendant’s situation, what she had been through, what she was facing, and what Copyright Law would end up like if he didn’t make it a little bit less one-sided in his courtroom.

    This is a significant development; the landmark case could have dramatic repercussions for the RIAA’s legal campaign against file sharers, since a precedent now exists for the RIAA to compensate wrongfully-sued defendants for their legal costs.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070208021454284

  6. THis is an edited copy of my post from a dead thread. My apologies to any who read it there:

    The CD is far from dead and many are sold via stand-up displays at Wal-Mart, Target etc. Getting on Leno and MTV doesn’t happen by accident, nor does inclusion on movie soundtracks. Print advertising doesn’t come cheap and the labels support tours. This stuff is still important for keeping the talent happy and breaking new acts on a large scale. The labels pay millions, sometimes tens of millions, of dollars in advance to fund future recording, many of which will bomb and have to be covered by the hits.

    This stuff is paid for by $13 – $17 list prices — Apple can charge $10 since all the other stuff is on the labels’ tab. Plus, comparing $10 to $17 isn’t apples-to-apples. Of the $17, approximately 35% stays with the retailer ($5.75). The list price of a disc at Wal-Mart has to be at least $15.37 for Apple to net $10.

    People complain that the labels are greedy, and they are, but what most don’t realize is that after marketing, copyright and union royalties, mfg and distribution they make less per unit than iTMS. (you don’t have to believe me but I am an ex-insider and know what I’m talking about)

    So the record industry has to adapt to these changing times but simply saying that CD prices are too high is ignoring the business model that still sells a very large lion’s share music.

    I don’t agree with him but I understand Bronfman’s frustration. Jobs could sell his product without copy protection but he doesn’t, at least for most items.

    And please, don’t complain about how all the music people care about is their fat paychecks. It’s really only the top execs who get them and I suspect the top people at Apple and elsewhere do too. Perhaps they should all take huge cuts so my next iMac will be cheaper.

  7. OMG Jobs is Brilliant!!

    Apple has been telling commissions across Europe, “It’s not us, it’s the record labels.”

    Now Jobs has the labels lining up to confirm it to the press! Genius, pure genius!

    MDN Magic Word: Past. “They are so living in the past.”

  8. Eventually this will come to a head. The record companies are the ones that hold all of the cards. They are the ones with the rights, plain and simple. Apple can go into the record business if it likes, and my guess is that they will now that they have the rights to the Apple name from the Beatles. They need some leverage against these guys and an Apple iRecord company would go a long way towards wresting some big names away from the record companies.
    Let’s face it. What we are seeing is the death throws of one music industry and the birth of a new way of recording and listening to music. The current music industry, of course, will fight to the death to protect their gravy train. They will use whatever means they can. But it will be to no avail. If I was Apple right now, I would play nice with them for a little while longer. Hell, open up Fairplay but tell them to go scratch on their iPod tax. Then open up a new Apple records. Start signing some big names to sweetheart deals. Hurt them that way. When all of the other artists begin to sign on then you stick the knife in. You know, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

  9. 90% of the music they sell has no DRM – the music they sell on CDs.
    90% of the music they sell has no DRM – the music they sell on CDs.
    90% of the music they sell has no DRM – the music they sell on CDs.
    90% of the music they sell has no DRM – the music they sell on CDs.
    90% of the music they sell has no DRM – the music they sell on CDs.
    90% of the music they sell has no DRM – the music they sell on CDs.
    90% of the music they sell has no DRM – the music they sell on CDs.

    this is just asinine. We need to start POUNDING this FACT home – that all the CDs they sell are without DRM (or the DRM is passable without much effort). So if they can sell all those CDs without DRM, what is the point of selling that remaining percentage without DRM?

    i don’t think i pounded that message home well enough.

  10. @Not evil…

    I don’t know the numbers for sure but I’m pretty certain that Apple doesn’t net the full price for their downloads as you’re stating. The music store doesn’t make that much profit a lot of it goes to the music labels.

    The RIAA web site has a document that reiterates your argument about the price of CDs here: http://www.riaa.com/news/marketingdata/cost.asp but I still take issue with it.

    They say part of the reason CDs cost so much is to pay for studio costs, marketing, printing, etc. etc. My question is, why should I have to pay for all that stuff for bands that I don’t like?

    Why should my purchase of a CD by someone that the labels aren’t doing as much for cost actually MORE than the bigger names? There’s more money behind a release from for example Justin Timberlake than Yo La Tengo. You’ll see JT posters in stores and bus shelters, bulk discounts to retailers to keep the price of the CD more attractive, commercials and the cost of his studio time was probably huge thanks to the big name producers he uses. So thanks to the labels a JT CD will cost $12.99 because they believe he’ll move more units and make money. The Yo La Tengo release, which probably cost less to record and has little or no push behind it willl cost $18.99–if you can find it!

    That business model is faulty. It’s been around for years but it’s deeply flawed. So is DRM. DRM doesn’t really affect me. I find Fairplay to be pretty fair (and easy to get around if need be), but DRM just doesn’t work. It actually impedes the success of online distribution. Without it I’ll bet online music sales increase. People who pirate will still pirate unfortunately but they’re doing that now DRM or not. So remove the DRM an let the people who are actually paying have their music without restrictions.

  11. The record companies have shot themselves in the foot more than once with them. There is a small number of lawyers who represent a large number of music superstars and when one artist gets an extraordinary benefit everyone else lines up for it too. It’s not like satellite radio where there was only one Howard Stern.

  12. If the record company’s did charge for every iPod sold, it would give us permission (a bill of sale) to steal all the music from them I want.

    They set the price, I pay it, I get the music.
    If the cost is only $1, that’s their problem.

  13. Peter J – You’re right, Apple doesn’t keep most of what they charge, I’m just saying that they don’t have many of the expenses. And they don’t have to give 35% away off the top.

    One of the reasons you’ll see so much advertising for a JT release is that the stars demand that the labels support the release w/marketing dollars. The labels can slash the price since they know they’ll make it up in volume but I suspect that at any price Yo La Tengo won’t sell like JT. Many people say that the labels only sell shit but it’s just as fair to say that many people buy the shit. Sad but fair.

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