Warner Music to stop licensing to free music streaming services

“Record label Warner Music has said it will stop licensing its songs to free music streaming services,” Ian Youngs reports for BBC News.

“Companies like Spotify, We7 and Last.fm give free, legal and instant access to millions of songs, funded by adverts,” Youngs reports.

“Warner, one of the four major labels, whose artists include REM and Michael Buble, said such services were ‘clearly not positive for the industry,'” Youngs reports. “That raises questions over the future of free streaming, which is popular with fans but not lucrative for labels.”

“Warner chief executive Edgar Bronfman Jr said: “Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed,” Youngs reports. “The ‘get all your music you want for free, and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price’ strategy is not the kind of approach to business that we will be supporting in the future.'”

Youngs reports, “It is not clear whether Warner will remove its music from existing services or decline to do deals with new outlets.”

“Bronfman said the focus would be on promoting streaming services that require payment, which he said could appeal beyond those who currently pay for downloads in stores such as Apple’s iTunes,” Youngs reports. “‘The number of potential subscribers dwarfs the number of people who are actually purchasing music on iTunes,’ Mr Bronfman said.”

MacDailyNews Take: Instead of hopping aboard, ♫ ♪ Middlebronfman got run over by the cluetrain. ♪ ♫

“Mr Bronfman’s comments come just weeks after another major label, Universal, said Spotify was well on the way to proving its commercial viability. ‘Spotify is a very sustainable financial model – full stop,’ Rob Wells, senior vice president of Universal Music Group International, said in January,” Youngs reports. “Paul Brindley of digital music consultants Music Ally said the other major labels were unlikely to follow Warners’ lead.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s too bad that Samuel Bronfman never told his young grandson Edgar, “Fickle, greedy and clueless is no way to go through life, son.”


  1. The amazing thing is, (Midle)Bronfman continues to believe that the subscription model would work for music. It isn’t enough that he had tried it, together with all other major labels, for years. It isn’t enough that Apple single-handedly saved his own bacon with iTunes Store. No, he is still the good old bean counter, who would so much love constant recurring stream of locked-in revenue, and therefore believes the rest of the world would also love it.

    This is just amazing! That someone lacks so much clue!

    Luckily, Universal has begun to figure it out. As they are by far the biggest, and pull significant weight, there’s a chance Warner might eventually also figure out by looking at others (while watching their own numbers go down in flames).

  2. Surprising? Greed knows no bounds.

    They see a one time income from people buying their music and somehow extrapolate that into a continuos cash flow from a subscription based model. They’re obviously blinded by the potential dollar signs they COULD make, because they fail to remember what an epic FAIL it has proven to be, time and time again.

    People who want free, will still continue to look for and use free. They just won’t be listening to any music from Warner Music artists. You’d think they want to get their music on as many distribution platforms as possible, isn’t it really just advertising?

  3. I wonder if this applies to Pandora. The target here is “free music streaming services”, not “internet radio”, and Pandora has positioned itself as being in the second category. Although the music stream is customized to your taste, you cannot pick and choose the music song-by-song (and you are limited as to the number of songs you can skip).

    If it does apply to Pandora, Warner should just shut down now. People don’t buy music unless they get introduced to it first. Since I’ve started listening to Pandora, I’ve been buying music left and right.

    I can understand why Warner would want to opt-out of a pick-and-choose, listen-to-whatever-you-like-for-free service (though I don’t agree with it). Opting out of internet radio, and Pandora, would be suicide.


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