Warner Music CEO Urges Holdouts in Streaming Price Hikes to Raise Subscription Fees
If the price of an individual streaming subscription plan were adjusted for inflation in 2023, it would cost $13.25 instead of roughly $10 a month, Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl said on Wednesday (March 8) - a statistic that doubled as a plea for streaming companies that have yet to raise fees to get in line.
While several of the big music streaming companies - including Apple, Amazon and Deezer - have raised their baseline prices recently, the biggest one of all, Spotify, has so far held off on raising the $9.99 pricetag on its U.S. premium subscription plan. Though Kyncl didn't specifically address Spotify on Wednesday, when he spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, he said companies that haven't raised their prices are playing a role in the undervaluing of music.
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"We are the lowest (cost) form of entertainment," he said. "We have the highest ...engagement, highest form of affinity and lowest per hour price. That doesn't seem right. It should change in an orderly fashion."
While Kyncl is far from an unbiased commenter on price hikes - music labels stand to gain significant revenues from DSPs raising their subscription prices - Kyncl says the 12 years he spent at YouTube has shown him companies can raise prices if they have a product consumers cherish.
"YouTube TV has grown its subscription from $35 to $70 while growing ... because they have a superior product," Kyncl said.
During the wide-ranging presentation, Kyncl also expressed empathy for executives at TikTok who are at "a company that's kind of embattled today with lots of different institutions around the world."
"As someone who's kind of gone through that, it is much better to have friends and not fight a war on every flank," he added, recalling the contentious relationship YouTube once had with the music industry.
TikTok is engaged in ongoing negotiations over remuneration to rights holders, a group that includes Warner Music Group (WMG). On Wednesday, Kyncl noted WMG is open to a friendlier dynamic with the popular music discovery tool so long as it works for "both sides."
"That's all I look for, fair setup on both sides and to grow a business together," Kyncl added.