Earnings Call: WMG CEO: 'We Don't Want To Dethrone Apple', But DRM-Free iTunes Won't Solve Piracy

This story was written by Robert Andrews.
Warner Music Group's earnings call for its Q109 (results post here) had precious little info on the spats that have robbed YouTube and Last.fm of WMG tracks. But CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr's comments did suggest a thawing relationship with Apple, after WMG last year experimented with pulling tracks from iTunes Store...

Dealing with Apple: Asked how to "wrest control" from iTunes: "I have a lot of heart for the access models that are being developed in the mobile space - increasingly, there will be competition for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). Having said that, Apple continues to grow its business with us. This notion that somehow we need to dethrone Apple is not a notion we need to spend a lot of time on - so long as they continue to allow us to make the progress we have ... they allow us to innovate ... It's already served as a pretty good model for the industry and will continue to do so."

Apple's DRM-free won't stop piracy: "The industry has lived in many quarters now without DRM. I don't think the piracy aspects have changed. I don't think we'll see any difference in piracy activity with or without DRM on Apple."

New iTunes pricepoints: How will WMG use iTunes' new three-tier pricing structure, coming in April? "It's simply too early to predict what will happen or how many songs will end up at what pricepoints. How many of our songs will be at what price level, for how long or what the consumer reaction will be is yet to be determined. But we are hopeful it will result in a better consumer experience and position for us."

Social media investments: After taking minority stakes in iMeem and LaLa, these sites' contributions aren't recorded in earnings because "their impact is negligible at this stage".


By Robert Andrews
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