Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s Warner Music Group ( WMG), once derided as an awkward investment in a troubled industry, is starting to gather a little steam.

Bronfman's $2.6 billion buy of the Time Warner ( TWX) music division last year, along with a group of private-equity hard chargers, was written off as little more than a vanity play for a self-professed music fanatic cum media mogul. After all, the music industry has been hit by rampant piracy and declining retail sales, trends the industry has been unable to contain.

But the tables may be turning. Described as a noncore asset at Time Warner, Warner Music now looks like a play on a management group that saw the time was right to get into an industry in transition.

Warner Music Group shares have risen 20% since July and traded recently at $19, more than 10% above their admittedly reduced IPO price. Warner's recent decision to pass along a 13-cent quarterly dividend was greeted warmly, sending shares up 3% and overshadowing news that the company would take a $25 million fourth-quarter charge to merge its Java and Atlantic labels.

Part of the reason for the uptick may be what Bronfman has said recently regarding file-sharing, industry pricing and pay-for-content as it is distributed on newer platforms.

"We are really the arms suppliers to a significant series of wars going on," Bronfman said at a recent conference. He noted what he called the device wars, "as Sony ( SNE), Samsung and others come after Apple's ( AAPL) dominance in the device space," as well as content distribution wars among telcos, cable, broadcast and others. Plus, Bronfman said, there's "opportunity for penetration on existing platforms like mobile, where, despite drastic changes we've seen in digital, we have yet to sell a single song."

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