Outgoing media mogul Edgar Bronfman Jr has warned against the Universal-EMI merger – and taken a potshot at Google. Bronfman is stepping down as chairman of Warner Music, which was acquired by Russian entrepreneur Len Blavatnik last year.
Bronfman has a long history of antipathy with Universal, the world's largest record company. It was his idea, while CEO of booze-maker Seagram, to diversify the drinks empire into entertainment. The company acquired Universal and Polygram, but lost control of these when it was absorbed by Vivendi. Vivendi spun out the distillery biz and film studio (to NBC), but kept the record label. So here we are.
Bronfman unsuccessfully attempted to acquire EMI several times while at Warner. Now he says Universal's acquisition is bad for the industry, pointing out that a combined Warner and EMI would still have been smaller than Universal Music Group is alone. The proposed merger has met fierce resistance from the independent sector.
The outbound exec also had nice things to say about Steve Jobs, Spotify - a bit ironic since Warner held up music streaming for so long - and unbundling the album, which he said is good for consumers, even though it caused the music industry some pain.
He also called Google Music "an oxymoron".
Not as fun as Neil Young, I think you might agree.
The early Bronfman family fortune was acquired distributing illegal products - liquor, to be specific - from Canada into the United States. The family bought the Seagram company after the end of Prohibition era. ®