Bronfman Preaches Gospel of Mobile Music
Today in Barcelona, Warner Music Group President Edgar Bronfman Jr. addressed a meeting of mobile operators, tech vendors and content companies about downloading music to your cell phone.
Bronfman is an interesting cat. He comes from a long, wealthy line of Canadian liquor moguls. But he got the entertainment bug. He's an amateur songwriter and persuaded the family to sink its fortune into the entertainment biz. They bought Universal music and movie companies.
It's ironic that Bronfman is preaching mobile because he and his family nearly got destroyed by a Frenchman doing the same thing about seven years ago. Jean-Marie Messier, a French investment banker, was head of Vivendi, a water company that got into the entertainment business. He seduced Bronfman into a merger with the dream that kids on Paris's Left Bank wanted to download music and video to their cell phones.
Messier may have been right, but he was ahead of his time. He nearly bankrupted the company by buying up companies. He's long gone.
But Bronfman remains and he's resurrecting his rep at Warner, where he's trying to lead the big music labels into the mobile era.
In his speech today, Bronfman observed that of the world's 6 billion people, about 2 billion have mobile devices. It took 12 years from the introduction of the first consumer wireless devices to reach the 1 billion mark, but less than three to hit the 2 billion mark, he said.
But only 8.5 percent of all those with phones capable of downloading and playing music actually use their phones to do so.
Why? Too slow, too complicated, too expensive, Bronfman said.
Warner has partnered with Motorola and is working with mobile operators in China, South Korea, the Middle East and North Africa, to name a few regions, to provide music to cell phones.
In many countries, the telephone landline never caught on. Bangladesh, for instance, has only 1 million landlines but 10 million mobile phone customers, a figure expected to hit 50 million in two years. Bronfman said these markets also will "leapfrog" music technology, bypassing CDs for mobile, digital music.
"Remember if you're as old as I am, how rewarding it was to buy a new LP with great art on the album cover, liner notes, and the music itself? What if people had to go to three separate stores to get all that? Essentially, that's what we're asking many of our customers to do today, instead of giving them a really great music experience," Bronfman said.
What do you think? Are you ready to give up or augment your iPod or Zune for music downloads in your phone? Is it easy or hard to download music into your phone?
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