February 14, 2007 3:56 AM PST

Music exec slams mobile entertainment experience

BARCELONA, Spain--The cell phone industry must improve the mobile music experience for consumers or risk losing out to new competitors like Apple, Warner Music Group's CEO warned Wednesday at the 3GSM World Congress.

Edgar Bronfman Jr. said in a keynote speech here that although there are already millions of music phones available throughout the world, only about 8.8 percent of people with the devices actually buy their music over the air. The reason, he said, is because such purchases are expensive, complicated and slow.

"We need to make it easy, affordable and quick to get music on mobile phones," he said. "Until we achieve this goal, we will be leaving billions of dollars on the table."

Edgar Bronfman Edgar Bronfman Jr.

On average, Bronfman said, it can take a person 20 clicks to buy a ringtone, depending on the carrier network the consumer is using. He also complained about the fact that ringtones, full-track songs, music videos and album art are all sold in separate virtual stores.

"It's amazing we have generated as much money as we have, given how cumbersome it is to buy music," he said. "Imagine what we could do if it was fun and easy for consumers."

Bronfman said that the technology does exist today to make it easier for people to buy entertainment content on their mobile phones. He pointed to Apple as an example of how the mobile music experience meets consumer expectations.

In January, Apple unveiled its mobile phone, the iPhone, which combines cell phone functionality with the popular iPod music and video player. Initially, the iPhone will launch in the U.S. market with AT&T's Cingular Wireless service. The deal is exclusive in the U.S., and Apple hasn't yet announced which carriers it will work with outside the U.S. Even though the iPhone isn't expected to hit store shelves until June, it's already creating buzz throughout the industry.

"Apple has raised the bar in terms of what users expect even before the product has been released," Bronfman said. "While this presents a challenge, ultimately I think it will be positive for the industry because it's getting people excited about music phone devices. Now it's up to providers and manufacturers to fill the emerging demand."

While Bronfman wants device makers and mobile operators to make it easier to purchase entertainment on their phones, he disagrees with Apple CEO Steve Jobs when it comes to protecting mobile music and video.

Full coverage
Going mobile at 3GSM
More news from the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, one of the world's largest showcases of cutting-edge wireless technology.

Earlier this month, Jobs urged record companies to abandon digital rights management (DRM) technologies. Jobs said in an open letter posted on Apple's Web site that only about 3 percent of songs on any given iPod are purchased from the iTunes store, which, he asserted, was forced to create a DRM system to get the four largest record companies to sell songs through the store. The other 97 percent of music on iPods has been ripped from CDs that have no copy-protection technology and can be freely shared among computers and other MP3 players, he said.

Bronfman said it is important to have DRM systems that can interoperate with one other, but he also emphasized the importance of protecting copyright and ensuring that content creators and the people selling the content all get paid.

"Intellectual property deserves some level of protection on mobile phones," Bronfman said. "So I don't agree that it shouldn't be protected. But that is very different from creating interoperability among DRM technology. We can't put so much protection on content that the user experience is poor."

See more CNET content tagged:
Warner Music Group Corp., digital-rights management, Steve Jobs, record company, Apple Computer

12 comments

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Just remove the DRM already!
If DRM was not placed on all of these downloaded files, the mobile experience would be easier for all!
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
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The silence is deafening!
Yes, I agree with his wonderment that these companies even
make any money given the crappy consumer experience they
produce.

Look right here, on CNET, at how much excitment and reader
feedback this whole mobile phone 3G conference-whatever-it-
is-called has created....... and compare it to the reactions to
Jobs' presentation in January for a product that would not be on
the market for another six months!

Priceless.

People can slam Apple and Jobs all they want, but the point is,
Apple/Jobs change conversations. These 'mobile' folks are busy
fighting each other over scraps of market shares for our pocket
change.
Posted by kathakalimask (20 comments )
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one more business bronfman will destroy
good ol' bronfman just doing PR for this...

NEW YORK, February 10 (newratings.com) - Warner Music Group Corp (ticker: WMG), the world's fourth-largest music company, Thursday announced a 74% decline in its first-quarter profits partly due to soft domestic and European sales.

read up on this business-killing jackass here...

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Bronfman%2C_Jr" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Bronfman%2C_Jr</a>.

Bronfman, Jr., then led Seagram into a disastrous all-stock acquisition by French conglomerate Vivendi in 2000. Bronfman, Jr., became chief of the new company, Vivendi Universal, but the Seagram company effectively lost control of its entertainment businesses. Meanwhile, the beverage division?the core of Seagram's business?was acquired by Pernod Ricard. Seagram's for all intents and purposes ceased to exist.

how appropraite they nickname him the "Efer". he "effed" it up real good for seagrams, and now warner.
Posted by sadchild (280 comments )
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DRM doesn't work
DRM doesn't do what its supposed to do. All the music that is protected by DRM is already available on P2P networks. DRM just makes it more difficult for a user to do what they want (and should be allowed to do) with what they purchased.
Posted by pjhenry1216 (865 comments )
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Dufus...
Bottom line in Bronfmans little speech...., He does not like the
fact that Steve Jobs hold sway in the music business. That's his
business and he's the boss and he'll be damned if someone else
is going to dictate to him. Bronfman, get a clue! No one except
you and the music business wants DRM. Jobs is right..., most of
my songs on my iPod are ripped from Unprotected CD's or
barrowed from others ripped CD's. The main reason you throw
out the ra ra speech to handset makers and content providers is
that you want more leverage for your pathetic music label. Got
news for you pal...., You think that the content and handset
makers are going to jump at your little speech? They'll just flick
you off like a booger on their finger. Every thing you ask for in
your speech, Apple has already delivered. Drop DRM.
Posted by smithjones (103 comments )
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The music execs are trying to target wrong demographic
The simple truth is the RIAA and the music industry as a whole are targeting the wrong demographic. 15-24 year olds don't have the cash to buy the music or as much music as they want. So they download free or share. It hasn't been a problem for DRM before because Apple is Youth-centric (although their demographic is aging now) and they had dominated the market. MP3s are gaining acceptance with older consumers because they still use CD players in their cars. But newer models are out with MP3 adapters built in. They want the ready access to have music to commute to, read to, throw barbecues to. They don't tend to share with friends and those are the consumers they need to make happy.
Posted by djFLWB (22 comments )
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Not sure if that's completely true
People from 15-24 work and have little to no expenses. They also have the time to go to more concerts and find new music than people with careers do. I'd also say that they are more open to giving different styles a chance than people who are already set in their tastes. Additionally, they have all grown up on computers and adopted digital music, compared to older people who still purchase CDs. I bought around 250 CDs between 15-24 (though I suspect only a few are from lables represented by the RIAA) but have only bought about 20 since then. Most of the people I know have at least a couple hundred CDs purchased during those years as well. I don't have time to search the net for new bands or to go to concerts every week like I used to. Anything on the radio or MTV is pretty much recycled garbage so that pretty much leaves me to look for new bands myself. When I was younger I had time to do it, now I don't so that pretty much gets rid of my CD purchases. It's also about the only demograhic they can market to because they're the only ones who will listen to the garbage they're marketing.
Posted by umcrouc0 (53 comments )
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Most Successful Formats EVER have No DRM
Someone should ask him if the two most successful formats have no DRM, shouldn't mp3's follow the lead of CD's and LP's?
Posted by jbelkin (167 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Easy, Affordable, and Quck is Key.
"We need to make it easy, affordable and quick to get music on mobile phones," is the right answer.

However to say it is one thing. To actually allow it to happen is another. If Warner is part of the RIAA they are clueless as to how to make it happen even if they understand the simple concept taught in marketing 101.
Posted by Renegade Knight (13748 comments )
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Gee! What an incredibly obvious observation...
...and I wonder who is primarily at fault? Could it be the idiot that made this observation?

Not a freakin' clue.
Posted by adlyb1 (123 comments )
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Unfair headline - shame on CNET
Speaking from someone that went to 3GSM World Congress and listened to the WMG presentation the writer and/or editor sensationalized the comments from E. Bronfman.

He mentioned quite a few stats, cited by the author, but also made multiple comments that WMG is committed to being the leader in providing digital music including to the mobile market. I would not qualify any of his comments as "complaining."

This smells awfully of negative media, and I hope that WMG stays committed to digital music.

There is room of improvement for the mobile entertainment experience, which means opportunity, and given what I saw at 3GSM many vendors are answering the call.
Posted by ddandal (5 comments )
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