Warner Music says game makers need to pay up

Record company CEO says licensing fees paid to the music industry by game companies are "far too small."

by

Although the unequivocal success of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises is certainly good for MTV Games' and Activision Blizzard's businesses, the two companies have found themselves in an arms race to satisfy their audiences' seemingly insatiable demand for new songs.

For MTV Games and Harmonix, this situation has led to an impressive library of downloadable tracks that will push Rock Band 2's total possible tracklist past 500 by the time it's released for the Xbox 360 in September. Activision Blizzard, on the other hand, has primarily opted for stand-alone tribute games to augment its flagship Guitar Hero franchise, including the recently released Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.

Regardless of how the music is distributed, it may begin to cost more for the game makers to deliver some of those songs. Warner Music Group has said that it wants to charge music-game purveyors more to license songs for their games, as reported by Reuters. "The amount being paid to the music industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small," said Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman to the news outlet.

Warner Music is the third-largest music company in the world. The group represents a ranging number of artists, many of whom have or will appear in editions of Harmonix's and Activision's rhythm games, including Jane's Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, AC/DC, The Cure, and many more. Activision Blizzard parent company Vivendi SA owns in whole the world's largest music company, Universal Music Group.

Discussion

344 comments
darkbluex
darkbluex

I hate to say it, but Madonna was the best thing Warner Music got going for them. But even she saw the light and hauled ass to LiveNation, $120 mil = 10 years. I guess Warners has to make up the loss somehow.

sbelli
sbelli

In my opinion, having the songs in games like Rock Band may actually be helping the record industry make more sales. Since the music isn't portable, someone who likes a song they played in RB/GH, may decide to go out and buy the album or MP3.

hellmann70
hellmann70

If the Edgar Bronfman really wanted more money, I'm sure he'd get off his lazy ass an do real work... like signing record deals is such a labour intensive job. Seriously he gets money from doing absolutely no work through music downloads.

rockdawg
rockdawg

It continues to surprise me how the music industry cannot get out of its own way when it comes to new media and licensing. They truly cannot think more than 15 minutes ahead. What a systemic lack of vision.

Cloud737
Cloud737

Bronfman again? Does that idiot never shut up? He'd look more intelligent doing so... That bastard's greed for money and fame is only matched by his humongous stupidity. You'd think selling his father's "boring" but yet very profitable wine company for a plummeting entertainment company, buying shares he would ultimately get back after some time (cause he kinda leased them), and overall buying company after company while producing little to no profit in return (before AND after the acquisition) would teach him a lesson. But no, his stupidity is so colossal that he could even argue with someone even over the most basic of things (like saying that 1+1=5) and still think he's right. No reason will ever scar his tiny mind. So, kids, take heed and note that any of Mr. Bronfman's comments and make sure to act on the exact opposite of what they say. You'll be sure to have lots of success that way. :D

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

Wow...who'd of thought the music industry would actually turn their clammy, greedy palms not only to charging consumers more for DLC, but now to game developers that use their content (and that are still making them a profit!)....damn, never saw that one coming. Well, the music industry as officially hit a all-time low. :|

kenkashijd
kenkashijd

they greedy man got money and now trying to take more money from people who trying to sell a good games

Mush_Mouth
Mush_Mouth

Warner Music has no room to talk - all their biggest names have left them to record with companies like Wal Mart and Starbucks because they're making more money off of that. It's their idiotic business sense that's putting them out of business, probably very soon.

erinnicole93
erinnicole93

is this the reason we're getting crappy DLC's from Roadrunner, so HMX can avoid paying the RIAA? The RIAA doesn't care about indie labels. We're probably going to be getting Century Media, Rough Trade, and Epitaph DLC's in the near future. Actually, that sounds like a great idea.

PinkFloyd2003
PinkFloyd2003

Record labels not satisfied with the amount of money they're making? Well I thought I'd never see the day.

ps3thabest
ps3thabest

@gerhardtscriven youre right, to hell with them.

McGregor
McGregor

I understand that companies like warner music are the reason we hear our favorite bands...but i'd like to see the artist getting a larger cut of the cash than the music companies. For the most part the musicians do all of the work, I'd like to see them reap a reward. So Edgar, in response...yes the royalties are too small...for the artist. Also @JBDragon: i agree completely. What will happen in the long run is that they will jack up prices, GTH and RB will have fewer songs, and gamers will not buy them because it won't be worth their money; not with all the great games coming out in the near future. Also, why do people pay for ringtones? it takes about 30 seconds to make the same ringtone in just about any music editing software (that includes the free stuff). This is a great new revenue on lower revenue tracks for the music industry, They would be wise not to screw it up.@bigjsd: on your first post they should have made an option to click "thumbs up" multiple times...i couldn't agree more!These companies could just as easily incorporate independant music, then the artist will finally get paid, we'll see how the corporate execs like that.

cooldude03
cooldude03

That's what a contract is for, make contract, sign contract, get royalties from contract guidelines. Don't whine about contract after you realize that the gaming industry creates more revenue than you first realized. Warner Music needs to investigate their investments before making the deal next time. Music albums don't sell like they used to due to people downloading and purchasing on a song by song basis, I guess Warner now realizes Video Games are more profitable than the music industry. But Video games need music to be successful, I guess this means game prices are going to increase again.

rynmls
rynmls

its their time to harass actiblizz and harmonix, of course its good money for the co.

bochap76
bochap76

Warner Music and other labels should pony up and pay the artist what they deserve and shut the hell up!. When that day rolls around, then and only then do they have the right to ask for more money.

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

sounds like warners is getting greedy after seeing the sucess of the game after the last few years, i hope greed won't kill the rock rythm games

Me2NiK
Me2NiK

What Edgar neglected to mention is that these royalties fund the record companies, not the music industry. The latter, I support; the former can burn in hell for all I care.

lostangelz
lostangelz

how many even know what the licensing fee is to even comment on it? i think it's like film, where it can be low-high. as far as mtv, that doesn't pay any performance or sync royalties to any artist when they do actually play videos, i don't mind them getting effed even if it's through their gaming division

teh_leeto
teh_leeto

they should just not touch the royalties because surely by having these songs in the games more people get interested in buying more of the artists. So no need to increase the royalty fees.

drknockboot2
drknockboot2

The see these games are making to much money, its not the music!

Akhenaton666
Akhenaton666

The music industry attacks again!!! I don't like the damn music that comes with this games, but it's fun to play and share with friends... Come on! Warner is getting more paranoid than Bill Gay... Cheers!

Martynitemare
Martynitemare

'even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control' Yeah. Despite that without the engine and graphics, the music itself isn't selling at all. And really... like we don't have songs by cover bands now? If ActiBlizz and Harmonix wanna be real bastards, they don't even need you guys....

trigun0006
trigun0006

that makes no sense, the music industry has been doing fine for years without charging more for licensing for games like guitar hero and rockband. This is a completely new revinue source for them that would not exist at all if it wasnt for companies like red octane and harmonix. they should not try to screw the companies that made a creative new way for them to make money, no matter how little or much it is.

Darth_Ultima
Darth_Ultima

Stupid, just stupid. This is why I hate the music industry. They are only screwing themselves if they think that jacking up the price is going to help them. It will just make it harder to make games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

JBDragon
JBDragon

To: djaffer Just because this is America doesn't make Music a Supply and Demand Product. There's Supply out the A**. No matter how much demand, the music industry isn't going to run out. Just because a Song is put into a Game and does well doesn't mean you should now jack you prices up. I know I sure wouldn't pay them. I could just as easily live without it. Again raising prices doesn't mean your going to make more money and in fact may make a whole lot less. Sorry but music is a low priority over, GAS & FOOD and many other things. With Digital Media, you can't run LOW on Supply, it's UNLIMITED!!! All these Songs you buy for these Music programs, if you want to hear them anywhere else your going to have to BUY THEM a second time or more. This is just pure dumb greed by one of the Music company's that just don't get it. As it is I don't buy Ring Tones either. You really have to be a Sucker to play $1.99-$2.99 for a crappy clip of a song as a Ring Tone and even then they think they should get more money because people are paying it. Well I'm not and never will. I could just make my own for FREE or stick with the ones built into the phone. If prices go UP on the tracks, I won't buy them, and in fact may just not buy the game either, and their goes sales for everyone!

JBDragon
JBDragon

It's a SONG, charge the same price a Radio Station has to pay I say! OR at the most what you pay for that same song on ITUNES $1 that's it. All the other work that goes into making that song work in the game doesn't mean the Music company should get even more. What's the difference playing the Song in a Game, and Hearing the Song over and over again? Also a lot of the songs are older Songs that people aren't buying to hear much these days, Or unknown songs so this is like a new life, why want even more. Really if the prices go UP, I won't buy the Songs, that's Lost sales. It's like Taxes, You raises the Taxes and think your going to Raise more money, and yet you end up making LESS. Instead of the Music being Reasonable prices were people will pay for it, You jack the prices up because it's been selling well and far fewer buy it and you end up with less money. It's really pretty DUMB.

BlakkSteel
BlakkSteel

Everything was sweet, 'til the games sold better than any expectations. . . . . GREEDY!!!

djaffer
djaffer

im suprised all of you guys live in american and do not realize that this is a capitalist nation. if you have a product in high demand, you charge what you want. im sure you folks would do the same if you were a major shareholder of a corporation. seriously, grow up and stop rebelling against anything and everything. all these games have made a lot of money by letting you play songs that dont belong to them so of course i think they should pay more to warner. warner taking a bit more of their deserved money wont hurt anyone so whats the problem? (if you think mtv and activision would charge more for their games and music, then you can stop buying them just as how those companies can stop buying the song rights. its all capitalism folks...) if demand is high, and supply is low, prepare to pay more.

laifox
laifox

greedy bastards...

camichan
camichan

For those interested in the new developments in the music industry, here is a link I found very interesting: http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_byrne (the rest of the link is ...azine/16-01/ff_byrne) dunno why it won't show whole thing.. It discusses how the current model of distributing music is broken and what the future looks like. It also shows where the money is actually going. Bands like NIN and Radiohead are making their own rules now and it's exciting to see. The good news is that our favorite music artists will have more freedom than ever in the future, so they can choose how they get paid. Music companies will be forced to adapt - they are not making the calls. As for the music they already own, they do make the calls and so here you can see them (Warner in this example) trying to leverage that content. Exciting times.

Aizou
Aizou

I've gone three years now without buying a single CD. While all the new music I hear comes strictly off the radio, I'm still proud because I'm not rewarding the idiots in the recording industry.

cypher787
cypher787

far too small i bet theyre only getting paid a few tens of millions of dollars for it poor them @$$holes

ShadowClaw48
ShadowClaw48

Another example of how the music industry alienates those businesses that can bring their music to an entirely new customer base. After all, this is the only industry in the world that I am aware of to sue its own customers...

DanieltheDead
DanieltheDead

Just another parasite trying to latch onto the music video game boom.

bagman58
bagman58

The extra money they'll be getting from the game industry means they can all buy another Porsche 911, YAY!

Alan1187
Alan1187

Hopefully this means less RB and GH games and just more DLC.

Princess_Rectum
Princess_Rectum

Whatever. Major record labels are so pathetic and desperate for money ever since people started downloading their music instead of buying it. Major record labels are ALWAYS going after the little guys instead of correcting their own **** system for music production and sales. I'll bet you any amount of money that 90% of all the musicians and bands on Guitar Hero and Rock Band don't care how much they're getting paid in royalties for having their music on some video games. What's sad is that if major record labels sue Activision or whoever over this, then chances are you'll all have to probably shell out an extra $10-20 every time you buy the next Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

soujiroxiv
soujiroxiv

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Blizz99
Blizz99

They can have my middle finger up their a**es alright, well no more music games for me until they smarten up. Sorry, I'm pretty happy iwth just rockband and GH2 and 3 anyways.

mercenar3
mercenar3

what sucks is that you can't boycott their products without hurting a smaller group that you like.

jer_1
jer_1

What a bunch of crap. Warner can basically suck my b***s. We need to stop buying anything from these corporations, as hard as that sounds to most of the followers. Not buying their products is the only way to hurt these corrupted corporations. Hit them in the wallets and we can start to change their vampiristic behavior.

gnrlstuart
gnrlstuart

maybe if we wernet paying ridiculous amounts of money for songs anyway it wouldnt matter. rb and gh are fantastic, but the whole situation with getting songs, licensing issues, and overpriced peripherals is a mess. they need to organise this whole thing, harmonix especially, europeans are paying upwards of $370 for a copy of rock band, drum kit guitar , and a mic, and it 's a year late! it was released on may in the united kingdom, so almost a year late, and double the price. also nobody outside the US can buy accesories and stand alone peripherals form harmonix AND red octane, because for some reason they will not ship or air mail to other countries, meaning we cannot buy extra guitars, staps, faceplates and other accesories, this is a big bummer, and needs to be solved, as the rest of the world are pretty sick of being exploited by these two companies, they are cutting thier noses off despite thier face by NOT allowing us to buy cool stuff from them, and also its not fair how they **** around with dates, want us to pay double, and think were that stupid not to think ''hey, i could get a new 360 for that price! i want to go back to the days of gh2 where you had a game and a guitar. period.

icuyo
icuyo

so this means "we want more money" a$$holes! you should be thanking the gaming industry (sorry if i comited any spelling mistakes)

Williedude87
Williedude87

This is why I pirate music. $2 to download a song A VIDEO GAME, that I can't take and do anything else with. Buy CD's with no creativity involved in designing them, nothing special, just a plastic piece of crap with a list of songs on the back, a picture of the band on the front, and the music. Awesome. Download songs that forces me to use software and devices I don't like and don't really want and I can't use it where I really want it without spending more money - my car. Or download the songs for free, and statisfy my guilty conscience by spending $100 on concerts and merch and by shameless promoting bands I like to everyone I can.