Bobby Kotick Responds To Warner Music

Bobby Kotick Responds To Warner Music

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Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has fired back at Warner Music over recent comments by CEO Edgar Bronfman suggesting the videogame industry wasn't paying enough for licensed music used in games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Early in August, Bronfman claimed the royalties being paid to the music industry by videogame producers was "far too small," particularly in light of the phenomenal success of games like Guitar Hero, which Bronfman said were "entirely dependent on the content we own and control." He went on to threaten game publishers with the potential loss of licensed music from Warner if they didn't pony up to his satisfaction.

But Kotick is apparently having none of it. Speaking to the Financial Times, he described Bronfman's criticism as not "respectful to how much we've done to bring new audiences to the market." He added that Activision had to invest significantly to make the songs "fun to play," despite Bronfman's statement that the games are "entirely dependent" on the music, and also pointed out that Warner is reaping benefits beyond simple royalty payments for the use of its music.

"We're introducing a whole new group of artists to new audiences that is resulting in their iTunes downloads being exponentially higher than they would otherwise be, [as well as] new album sales and new merchandising opportunities," he said.

Warner Music appeared to take a step back from Bronfman's confrontational statements, saying it had "enormous respect" for the contribution of the videogame industry to the development of music-based games. Typically, however, the company was unable to let the matter go without attempting to slip in the last word, adding, "We hope that our partners in the gaming space appreciate not only the value of their own contributions but also those of the recording artists, songwriters, record labels and music publishers on which their games are significantly based."

Despite previous protestations, Bronfman's bleating is evidence that the music industry - or at least his little piece of it - is still desperately holding on to the fading revenue models from pre-digital days. Setting aside for a moment the fact that Warner should honor the licensing deals it apparently had no problem signing when Activision first approached, Kotick is very correct to point out that the explosive popularity of games like Guitar Hero produce numerous intangible benefits for the music industry. And in this particular case, at least, Kotick can afford to take a hard line: While Bronfman's Warner Music is the industry's third-largest record label, Activision's recent merger with Vivendi aligns them directly with Vivendi-owned Universal Music Group - the biggest in the world.

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Bah. Either side is being just a tad stubborn here. True, the industry's music has gotten a new lease of popularity in the ordinary markets by having being featured in such games, but would games be so popular without the music? Either side has an equal role to play; else we return to indie mixes and bands. Although personally I didn't mind the latter at all.

The real problem is that Warner is being so blatantly opportunistic about the whole thing. They signed a deal in good faith to license their music for use in these games, but when they suddenly become huge hits - and money-makers - Bronfman is suddenly trying to muscle into the trough for more. It's not as though the general public is hugely enamoured with the music industry as it is, which just makes the optics on this sort of behaviour even worse. It seems pretty obvious to me that this would be a great opportunity for the industry to enjoy the secondary benefits of the success of music-based videogames as well as rebuild some of the good will they squandered through idiotic RIAA lawsuits (among other things), but instead it looks like they're going to put their other foot in it by continuing to operate in typically short-sighted fashion.

Next time they will demand cash every time "their" song is paid. I seriously doubt any of the artists were paid a single penny at all.

Just some everyday royalty haggling. Our opinion doesn't matter too much, since they both know what we consumers want: more music, for less. Useful to know (for the sake of consumer awareness) which labels are trying what tactics, but let's not make this a bigger issue than it needs to be.

Bongo Bill:
Just some everyday royalty haggling. Our opinion doesn't matter too much, since they both know what we consumers want: more music, for less. Useful to know (for the sake of consumer awareness) which labels are trying what tactics, but let's not make this a bigger issue than it needs to be.

Most music companies don't seem to understand the concept of music for less money, they only care about annoying everyone as much as possible and seem to be run exclusively by idiots and money grabbers. I seriously hate music companies, even more so at the moment because of the BS agreement they forced ISP's in to...

I'm guessing the next installment will have some Universal bands, then? Sorry mr. Warner.

A natural response from Activision. It was either this or lose more money to Warner, so... who really cares anyways?

and what happends with the sing games? its not the "same"?

 

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