Amidst Marked Declines, Bronfman Displays Strong Optimism

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Despite plunging CD sales and a sour stock performance, Warner Music Group chairman Edgar Bronfman, Jr. displayed strong optimism during an interview Wednesday.

“This decline is steeper than we expected, but in some ways it means we’ll get to the bottom faster, and after that there’s growth,” Bronfman said during a discussion on CNBC.  The executive pointed to the difficulties that incumbent companies face in disruptive market changes.  But Bronfman appeared determined to avoid a disastrous ending, and described an aggressive push into newer formats.  That includes a myriad of mobile assets, including ringtones, voicetones, and related tie-ins.   “We’re going to be putting out video and ringtones and ringback tones, then connecting them to blogs and ticketing opportunities when the artist goes on tour, merchandising, you name it,” Bronfman said.

That proliferated approach is being mirrored by other major labels, and digital formats now account for an increased percentage of total revenues.  But labels are also broadening their business outlooks beyond recorded assets, and diversifying their models in the process.  “If we are going to invest in artists going forward, then we need to be partners with them in their careers,” Bronfman said.

Also in the segment, influential industry attorney Ken Hertz agreed that labels are shifting their attitudes towards artist partnerships.  But he also noted that labels are far less critical to broader artist success, especially for already-established talent.  That includes mega-artists like Beyonce, a Hertz client that may forge an independent path in the future.  “As soon as it’s contractually opportune, it will certainly happen,” Hertz said.