A virtual virtuoso

Bronfman's lyrical on Internet's role in music

Seagram prexy/CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. said the match of his Universal Music Group with Polygram was a “marriage made in music heaven,” and asserted that developing technologies, such as digital delivery and the Internet, will “revolutionize the distribution of recorded music.”

Bronfman’s remarks came during a speech Friday at the Radio and Record confab in Hollywood where he remarked briefly on Seagram’s $10.6 billion acquisition of Polygram, but also articulated the important role he believes the Internet will play in the future growth of the music industry.

“There are important technological changes on the horizon: It’s called digitization,” Bronfman said. “We believe that it will spur increased sales.”

He said the Internet “not only holds out the promise of marketing recorded music, but delivering it as well. Today when you order (an album online) the post office or some other entity must deliver it. In tomorrow’s music you will peruse online catalogs, sample music and download it. It not only encourages impulse buying, but simplifies distribution. And it revolutionizes the industry’s economics.

“Recorded music has always offered an attractive return on capital because manufacturing costs are relatively low and capital requirements are limited,” he said. “But distribution has been expensive. We are now on the threshold of eliminating some of those costs.”

Bronfman said the “virtual music store does more than save money: It brings back the aging baby boomer who no longer feels comfortable hanging out with the youth dominated crowd of most record stores. He or she will not only turn to Amazon.com for books, but will also turn to it or its Internet equivalents for music. It will take time to develop, but the change is clearly coming. And our industry has to lead that change, not follow it.”

He said Universal’s move to buy Polygram was precipitated by the realization that it would have been a slow process to grow the music operation from the ground-up.

“We could continue to grow our music business, but we wanted to jump-start that growth,” Bronfman said. “We consider the match of Polygram and Universal as a match made in music heaven.”

Bronfman praised Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Doug Morris’ leadership under which UMG “revitalized existing labels, acquired labels and started labels that are thriving. … We have made significant strides in increasing both revenues and marketshare.

“In music as we did elsewhere, we brought in talent, starting at the top with (Morris), one of the outstanding music executives of our time,” Bronfman said.

Bronfman did not discuss Morris’ ascension to a worldwide post or the departure of Polygram chief Alain Levy, who has run Polygram since 1989, and whose exit had been widely expected since word of an acquisition surfaced (Daily Variety, May 11).

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    AT&T's Ad-Tech Unit Xandr Buys Clypd To Help Place TV Commercials More Precisely

    Xandr, the AT&T ad-technology unit, has purchased a new company that helps advertisers use data to place commercials in front of the audiences most likely to want to watch them The AT&T division said Friday it had acquired clypd, a company that helps advertisers move forward in a growing desire by Madison Avenue to run [...]

  • AT&T Logo Building

    AT&T TV Now Price Hike Coming Next Month, Base Package to Cost $65

    AT&T is instituting a substantial price hike for its live TV streaming service AT&T TV Now: Customers who have subscribed to the service’s basic “Plus” package will see their bill go up by $15, to a total of $65 per month, starting next month. The telco has started to inform existing subscribers about the price [...]

  • Disney-Family-Movies

    Disney Family Movies SVOD Service Is Shutting Down Ahead of Disney Plus Debut

    After 11 years, Disney is pulling the plug on Disney Family Movies On Demand — with the service’s shutdown coming just days before the launch of the Mouse House’s Disney Plus. Disney Family Movies, which cost between $5-$10 per month, has been available via pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast Xfinity, Charter Communications, Verizon [...]

  • Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham

    Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ Soccer Doc Series

    Amazon has greenlit a new “All or Nothing” sports documentary series, this time following London-based soccer team Tottenham Hotspur. “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” will follow a year in the life of the team, charting the ongoing 2019-20 season. The squad made it to the final of the European Champions League last year, losing to [...]

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi Picks T-Mobile as Wireless Launch Partner

    Quibi, the short-form mobile TV service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, announced a pact with T-Mobile to be the official telecommunications partner for its April 2020 launch. T-Mobile will be the exclusive wireless distributor when Quibi launches next spring. However, the arrangement doesn’t mean only T-Mobile customers will be able to subscribe to Quibi: Anyone will [...]

  • Steve Kornacki

    Steve Kornacki, Chris Matthews Stand at Center of New NBC News Podcasts

    After vowing to press ahead more directly into the world of podcasts, NBC News is readying the launch of three additional audio shows centered around politics. “Article II: Inside Impeachment” will help listeners understand the impeachment process. The program, new episodes of which are slated to debut Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as people head for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content