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Warner Music Ditches Streaming, Strands Spotify, Last.fm, Napster

Gordon Kelly


Warner Music Ditches Streaming, Strands Spotify, Last.fm, Napster

The music industry is famously regressive. In fact, I once said that if their "industry executives were any more out of date they probably could've fathered themselves" - and this still leaves me staggered...

In a desperate, ill-thought out and frankly ridiculous decision which will not so much come back and bite it on the backside, but tear out its tailbone Warner Music has announced it is looking to unilaterally pull its entire catalogue from the streaming music sector. As a result companies like Spotify, Last.fm, Napster, Sky Songs, We7 and the US-only Pandora, Deezer and Grooveshark which offer 'free' ad-supported services will suddenly find a huge proportion of their music libraries gone.

As one of the so-called 'Big Four' record labels artists like REM, Moby, Sean Paul, Linkin Park, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Morissey, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis, Prince, The Prodigy, Guns n' Roses, Muse, Paramore, Green Day, the Flaming Lips, Fall Out boy and A-Ha are just a few of the big names Warner Music has locked down (here is a full list). On the plus side, it does hold Paris Hilton's recording contract.

"Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed," said Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr in a sentence which should have had for us to maximise the amount of money we can make tacked onto it. "They get all your music you want for free, and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price strategy, is not the kind of approach to business that we will be supporting in the future."

Well, that's definitely the logic of a label which would sign Paris Hilton. Unfortunately Warner Music also hasn't given any specifics about its decision, so we don't know if premium streaming services will be spared or what the timescale for any withdrawal will be.

The bigger problem is that - like it or not - streaming music services are incredibly popular with consumers with Spotify one of the biggest talking points of last year. Rival labels also seem unlikely to follow Warner's decision with Universal Music Senior VP Rob Wells telling the BBC "Spotify is a very sustainable financial model - full stop," just last month. That said, any sudden loss of artists may convince the minority number of subscribers to these services (on which they rely greatly) to return to the free ad-based model and that could spell serious trouble.

Troubling times. Very troubling indeed...

Disclaimer TrustedReviews is owned by IPC Media, the publishing division of Time Warner. Clearly this greatly impacts our free speech... *cough* Trusted, remember ;)

Update: Spotify has posted an obtuse update on its twitter account proclaiming: "To be clear WMG is not pulling out of Spotify. Media is taking things out of context. So don't worry-be happy :)"

A few points here. 1. We're all referencing the BBC here, so it isn't general 'media' and the Beeb has quotes directly from WMG. 2. Not pulling out how? For premium subscribers only or everyone? 3. If we are "out of context" it would be nice to give some context...

Unfortunately since this update late last night Spotify has yet to respond to any press enquiries (including my own) or even post an additional Twitter update to much some much needed meat on these bones. Until then, we really can't know what on earth it is on about...


via The BBC

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