As the third-largest record company in the world, Warner Music is used to getting its way when it comes to matters of licensing its music. It would seem, then, that Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman's comments last week expressing dissatisfaction over the amount paid to the music industry by game companies licensing songs for use in the nouveau rhythm genre would spell an imminent hike in prices.
Of course, when the largest company in Bronfman's crosshairs also happens to be allied with the world's biggest record label (Vivendi-owned Universal Music Group), it isn't quite a one-sided debate. Speaking with the Financial Times today, Activision Blizzard chief Bobby Kotick responded to Bronfman's calls for higher compensation, saying they were not "respectful of how much we've done to bring new audiences into the market."
"I think his view was...that [Warner Music] should be compensated the way they might for a performance on iTunes," Kotick told the FT. "But this is an entirely different business that is very technically complex...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."
Reversing the tables to emphasize the growing importance of the Guitar Hero brand to the music industry, Kotick continued, "We're going to favor those publishers that recognize and appreciate how much we can add value to their artists."
French media conglomerate Vivendi SA merged its games group with Guitar Hero makers Activision in July, simultaneously creating the world's largest third-party publisher and bringing such best-selling franchises as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Diablo, and Tony Hawk under one roof. Vivendi SA also owns in whole the world's largest music company, Universal Music Group, which counts among its represented artists such acts as The Rolling Stones, Guns N' Roses, Def Leppard, and Robert Plant of Led Zepplin fame, to name but a few.