Friday, August 8, 2008

Hubris from Warner

Warner Threatens To Pull Music from Guitar Hero, Rock Band

This is rich! Warner Music Group CEO Bronfman is complaining that companies are finding ways to successfully monetize his music. He complains that MTV in the '80s, Apple in the 2000s and now Activision are ripping him off - even though his company signed voluntary deals with all three.

Bronfman should be jumping for joy that these companies have found successful ways to promote his artists' material. The labels did not create any of those three companies and would never have been able to. The digital distribution companies the labels helped create have all struggled with anti-consumer restrictions on the content customers avidy want, but go elsewhere to find.

As for Bronfman's assumption that video games will also eat his lunch, I can't think he's more wrong. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are both great games that engage the player with music, but they don't presage an era where all video games are music upsell vehicles. In fact, sales of music-based games are falling fast. Game manufacturers for years have tried to figure out how to include advertising and upsell within their games and none have succeeded until now. But this does not mean that all video games will now succeed as either. Those two games are music-focused. You still aren't going to sell music through shoot 'em up games, or Ms. Pac Man.

The labels need to get out of the way and let visionaries like MTV, Apple, and Activision create distribution channels that consumers actually want to engage with, rather than crushing every new idea because it doesn't fit the labels' failed business model.

No comments: