Sony generated $2.18bn from recorded music and publishing in calendar Q1, up 9.7% YoY

Credit: Sony Music/press
SOS by SZA (pictured) was Sony Music Entertainment's biggest revenue-generating project globally in calendar Q1 2023

Sony’s global music rights operation – across recorded music and music publishing – generated USD $2.181 billion in the three months to end of March 2023.

That’s according to MBW’s calculations based on Sony Group Corp’s calendar Q1 2023 (fiscal Q4 2022) results, as announced by the Japanese firm today (April 28).

The $2.181 billion figure was up 9.7% year-on-year (vs. calendar Q1 2022) at US dollar-converted constant currency.

In monetary terms, Sony’s overall music rights operation (recorded music plus music publishing) generated approximately $192.9 million more in calendar Q1 2023 than in the prior-year quarter.

[Note: Corporately speaking, Sony Group’s global music operation includes recorded music, plus music publishing, plus ‘Visual Media & Platform’. The final category primarily covers mobile games and animation projects, and has been omitted from MBW’s revenue calculations in this analysis.]

Sony’s recorded music operation

Sony’s global recorded music operation generated USD $1.682 billion in calendar Q1 2023, up 10.5% YoY versus the equivalent quarterly period of the prior year.

Within that calendar Q1 2023 global recorded music result, streaming generated $1.12 billion, up 8.3% YoY.

(This ‘streaming’ number combines both subscription and ad-funded streaming revenues generated by Sony’s global recorded music operation.)

Sony saw a YoY rise in quarterly revenues for physical music sales in calendar Q1 2023 (up 20.4% YoY to $214.7m).

Sony’s ‘Other’ fiscal category within recorded music, generated $278.2 million, up 18.7% YoY on the $234.5 million generated in the prior-year quarter.

This latter category (‘Other’) includes license revenue (public performance, broadcast and sync), merchandising and live performance income.

According to Sony Corp‘s results, Sony Music Entertainment‘s ten biggest recorded music projects in calendar Q1 2023 quarter (ex-artists signed in Japan), in order of global revenue generation, were:

  1. SZA, SOS
  2. Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation
  3. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
  5. Depeche Mode, Memento Mori
  6. Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE
  7. Måneskin, RUSH!
  8. Bob Dylan, Fragments – Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996-1997): The Bootleg Series Vol. 17
  9. Michael Jackson, Thriller
  10. Harry Styles, Fine Line

Sony’s Music Publishing operation

Sony’s global music publishing operation – led by Sony Music Publishing – generated $498.5 million in the three months to end of March this year.

That quarterly revenue figure, at the US dollar level, was up 7.2% year-on-year.

In the previous calendar year (Jan-Dec), according to MBW calculations based on Sony Group Corp data, Sony’s global music pub operation generated more than $2 billion ($2.008bn) annually for the first time in history.

Sony’s global music publishing operation derived $269.0 million of its quarterly revenues in the calendar Q1 2023 period from streaming.

That publishing streaming figure was up 13.0% year-on-year.

Sony’s global music profits

Sony Corp also today issued some profit numbers for its corporate Music division in the three months to end of March 2023.

(The following figures include Sony’s operations across Recorded Music, Music Publishing plus Visual Media & Platform. Sony doesn’t break out profits for its corporate Music division in the same way it does revenue, so for divisional operating income VM&P cannot be extracted/omitted.)

In calendar Q1 2023 (fiscal Q4 2022), Sony’s corporate Music division posted a quarterly operating income of 60.4 billion Yen (USD $456m).

That represented an operating margin of 17.3%, from total divisional quarterly revenues of 349.5 billion Yen (USD $2.64bn).

Note: All YoY percentage rises/falls published in this story are calculated at constant currency at the US dollar-converted level. MBW uses Sony’s own quarterly average currency rates for these calculations.

See below for the breakdown of Sony’s latest (fiscal) quarterly figures for music in Japanese Yen, as published by Sony Group Corp today.

For this analysis, MBW has calculated Sony’s financials from Japanese Yen into US dollars at the following prevailing exchange rates in each quarter, as provided by Sony Corp:

  • Calendar Q1 2020: 109.0 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q2 2020: 107.6 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q3 2020: 106.2 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q4 2020: 104.5 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q1 2021: 105.9 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q2 2021: 109.5 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q3 2021: 110.1 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q4 2021: 113.7 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q1 2022: 116.1 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q2 2022: 129.4 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q3 2022: 138.2 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q4 2022: 132.3 Yen per USD
  • Calendar Q1 2023: 135.4 Yen per USD

By applying these exchange figures to each applicable period, we effectively get a US-leaning constant currency picture of Sony Music’s performance.

This isn’t a perfect system; it risks overplaying Sony Music Entertainment’s global business slightly by converting a chunk of revenues from Sony Music Entertainment Japan (which would usually be straight-reported in Yen) into US dollars.

But it provides us with a cleaner reflection of the performance of New York-based Sony Music Entertainment outside of FX distortion, because the company had to convert its US currency into Yen in the first place for Sony Corp’s results. The same is true for US-based Sony Music Publishing.

MBW believes this currency exchange system is the yardstick used internally at Sony Music Group‘s HQ in New York.

Sony’s own description of its three corporate music divisions is as follows:

  • Recorded Music – Streaming includes the distribution of digital recorded music by streaming; Recorded Music – Others includes the distribution of recorded music by physical media and digital download as well as revenue derived from artists’ live performances;
  • Music Publishing includes the management and licensing of the words and music of songs;
  • Visual Media and Platform includes the production and distribution of animation titles, including game applications based on the animation titles, and various service offerings for music and visual products.

Within / covering the first two divisions listed above:

  • Sony Music Publishing, run by CEO & Chairman Jon Platt, is Sony’s US-headquartered music publishing operation.
  • Sony Music Entertainment, run by CEO Rob Stringer, is Sony’s US-headquartered recorded music operation.
  • And Sony Music Group – also run by Rob Stringer, as Chairman – is Sony’s US-headquartered umbrella group for both Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Publishing.

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