Come, Quick! There's Something Wrong With Mr. Bronfman!

Published on November 14, 2007
by John Paczkowski

World War II was won by the Allied forces, not only because we were right, but also because we had more men and women, more weaponry and more money, and that money in turn would train more men and women and build more weaponry.

“But being fair, and being just, is what allowed our civilized society to survive and prosper, while that of our conquering ally, the Soviet Union, cracked, crumbled and collapsed because it attempted to perpetuate a society that was fundamentally unjust and unfair.

“And if the Internet should require an unjust and unfair paradigm in order to perpetuate itself, then it too will crack, crumble and collapse, and it won’t take five decades of Cold War politics for it happen.

“That is why it is in your interest to join our fight to protect and defend the property rights of creators everywhere. And that is why we are bringing our fight to the court of justice and to the court of public opinion.”

Warner Music Group boss Edgar Bronfman Jr., May 26, 2000

Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s abusive relationship with Steve Jobs has apparently resulted in a Stockholm Syndrome-esque emotional attachment between the Warner Music CEO and Apple. Speaking at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau, Bronfman–who’s long been critical of the company that arguably legitimized the digital music business–turned tack and lauded iTunes as a prime example of digital music done right.

“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,” Bronfman said. “By packaging a full album into a bundle of music with ringtones, videos and other combinations and variations, 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 cooperation 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 so began a paean to Apple which, by the time Bronfman concluded, had heaped adulation on everything from the company’s design chops to its billing-platform savvy. “You need to look no further than Apple’s iPhone to see how fast brilliantly written software presented on a beautifully designed device with a spectacular user interface will throw all the accepted notions about pricing, billing platforms and brand loyalty right out the window,” Bronfman continued. “And let me remind you, the genesis of the iPhone is the iPod and iTunes–a music device and music service that consumers love.”

Clearly, Bronfman’s had quite an epiphany since his war-against-the-consumer days, when he was calling for mandatory peer-to-peer filtering and taxes on recordable media and MP3 players and demanding a share of Apple’s iPod revenue. “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.”

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