Warner Music Group has been making huge strides in the Web3 world of NFTs, blockchain and the metaverse over the past 24 months.
The major most recently struck a partnership with gaming metaverse The Sandbox, in what was the platform’s first major label deal, and in January, it teamed up with Quincy Jones-backed NFT platform OneOf, described as a “Green Web3 Company built for music”, in what they called a “first-of-its-kind preferred partnership”.
Now, following the firm’s increased activity in the fast-growing Web3 landscape, Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper told analysts on the company’s fiscal Q1 2022 (calendar Q4 2021) earnings call last week that the importance of labels and publishers will be amplified as the adoption of Web3 emerges.
WMG’s earnings call followed the publication of its quarterly results on Tuesday (February 8), which showed that recorded music revenues hit $1.386 billion in the three months to end of December, driven by major sellers including Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Dua Lipa and Silk Sonic.
The company also revealed that its music publishing operation – Warner Chappell Music (WCM) – saw its revenues grow 30.9% (or 31.6% in constant currency) YoY to $229 million, up from $175 million in the prior year quarter.
On the call, Cooper was grilled about the firm’s results and was asked about his views on what Web3 means for the music business.
In his prepared remarks, Cooper said that, “Web3 represents an exciting future for the music industry that will help our artists reach millions upon millions of new fans in interesting and innovative ways”.
When asked to elaborate on the Web3 opportunity, Cooper noted that “with respect to Web3,” which he notes, “is a broad way of talking about blockchain, crypto, NFT”, WMG sees “the beginning of interactive models coming to the surface and beginning to engage fandom around the world”.
He added that, “there are going to be more opportunities than we can even imagine as I’m sitting here in my kitchen today”.
Elsewhere in the world of NFTs and blockchain, Warner Music Group recently partnered with New York-headquartered digital collectibles platform Blockparty, marking the firm’s first major label partnership.
WMG also struck an NFT-related global partnership in April last year with Genies, which dubs itself “the world’s largest avatar technology company”, while. In September 2019, it joined an $11 million investment round in blockchain firm Dapper Labs.
Cooper made reference to these partenrships in his opening remarks, stating that, “from collectibles to music royalties, Web3 represents an exciting future for the music industry that will help our artists reach millions upon millions of new fans in interesting and innovative ways”.
He added: “Since our investment in Dapper Labs in 2019, we’ve been consistently investing, building, and partnering in Web3 opportunities. We’re continuing in this direction and an even faster clip in 2020. In January alone, we launched three important partnerships in the Web3 space.
“We partnered with OneOf, the company backed by music legends Quincy Jones. We’ll be collaborating to create artist NFTs using their eco-friendly Green Web3 platform. We announced the first major music partnership with the digital’s collectible platform, Blockparty. Our initial collaboration is with the finnish Superstar, Stig.
“We also became the first major music company to partner with the Sandbox. We’ll be working with them to build out WMG Land, a space where fans will be able to connect with their favorite artists through virtual experiences in NFT. ”
Commenting further on the role of the record label in music’s Web3 future, Cooper suggested that “the emergence of Web3 is going to further amplify the importance of music labels and publishers.”
“Labels and publishers will be more important than they are today as the world becomes more and more complex.”
Steve Cooper, WMG
He added: “The technology of blockchain, the perils of navigating crypto [and] the skill sets required to deal with distributed autonomous organizations will require organizations like us that have the financial resources [and] the intellectual capital”.
“By that I mean the specific skill sets, and the global footprint to be able to help our artists and songwriters not only navigate through this brave new world, or brave new universe, but navigate successfully in order to optimize their presence inside the world of Web3 and to optimize their revenue options and their revenue alternatives inside of Web3.
“Labels and publishers will be more important than they are today as the world becomes more and more complex.
“I don’t believe that when I look at individual artist managers – their agents, that they will be able to be as successful as they can be, unless they navigate these very interesting waters with Warner Music and others like us.”Music Business Worldwide