Warner Music CEO: 'We were wrong'

Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman

The chief of one of the labels leading the fight against P2P has a surprising change of heart: The industry, he says, was wrong about digital music.

Edgar Bronfman's comments came as part of a broader talk about mobile music at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress. He seemed to admit that the industry itself was at fault for the piracy problem that now plagues digital music.

He also warned that the mobile industry needed to improve its offerings in music quickly, or it risked losing its share of revenues to competitors including Google and Apple. Both companies are moving into the mobile space, and they could catch a mobile industry that isn't paying attention to what consumers want and need.

Bronfman's admission that a state of war exists between consumers and publishers of digital music, is the first public comment of its kind by any executive in the industry. Up until now, officials had pointed the finger solely at consumers, saying their actions were only necessary to protect their own interests.

Indeed, the head of Warner Music is even contradicting his own record. After heavily criticizing Apple's iTunes and suggesting dropping digital rights management would be foolish only a few short months ago, Bronfman had nothing but nice things to say about Apple at the conference.

He suggested that mobile operators follow the lead of iTunes and create compelling content packages for consumers, and get away from the "boring, banal and basic" music offerings available now.

"We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was," he told attendees. "We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong."

On the DRM front, Warner has begun to sell DRM-free tracks on its own digital store, possibly indicating that the same options may be available to consumers through iTunes and other outlets in the future.

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