Warner streaming revenues soared above $2bn in calendar 2019, with overall recorded music close to $4bn

Credit: Atlantic/press

Warner Music Group‘s recorded music operation saw its streaming revenues easily surpass $2bn in calendar 2019, at $2.22bn, up 21% year-on-year.

The major’s overall recorded music division (encompassing all formats) turned over $3.88bn in the 12 months, up 11% YoY.

As a result, streaming contributed some 57% of Warner’s recorded music revenues last year.

We know all of this because Warner just filed its fiscal Q1 (calendar Q4) report, covering the three months to end of December.

This period represented the largest quarterly revenues in the major’s 16-year history as a standalone company, said WMG CEO Steve Cooper today (January 31).

Total WMG quarterly revenues in this record quarter – inclusive of both recorded music and publishing via Warner Chappell Music – hit $1.26bn, up 4.4% year-on-year (or 5.5% at constant currency).

One key sign it was a healthy three months for WMG: it paid out a cash dividend of $37.5m to its stockholders (i.e. Len Blavatnik‘s Access Industries) on January 17.

WMG’s recorded music revenues in the quarter (fiscal Q1 / calendar Q4) hit $1.08bn, up 4.1% year-on-year (or 5.1% at constant currency).

If you’re thinking that 4% sounds like a notably skinny YoY rise considering the barnstorming recent performance of the global record business, you’d be right, but it was a particularly tough comp for WMG – calendar Q4 2018 saw the company release a record-breaking Johnny Hallyday album and benefit from an outstanding commercial performance from Ed Sheeran.

Specifically, Warner’s recorded streaming revenues in calendar Q4 2019 hit $589m, up 17% on the $502m posted in the prior year quarter.

The biggest revenue drivers amongst Warner labels in the quarter included TWICE, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Lizzo (pictured).

Warner Chappell Music saw its quarterly revenues in the three months to end of December hit $173m, up 4.8% YoY (or 6.1% in constant currency).

Growth in digital and synchronization revenue more than offset a decline in performance revenue at the publisher during the period, while mechanical revenue was flat.

WMG said Chappell’s YoY decline in performance revenue was driven by timing of distributions.

Overall, Warner Music Group’s revenue grew 4.4% (or 5.5% at constant currency) year-on-year, to that record-breaking $1.26bn.

Operating income was $165m compared to $147m in the prior-year quarter.

As of December 31, 2019, the company reported a cash balance of $462m, total debt of $2.988bn and net debt (defined as total long-term debt, net of deferred financing costs, minus cash and equivalents) of $2.526bn.

“We achieved the highest quarterly revenue in our 16-year history as a stand-alone company. ”

Steve Cooper, WMG

“Our Q1 results were very strong.  We achieved the highest quarterly revenue in our sixteen-year history as a stand-alone company.  We’re especially pleased with this result considering the strength of the prior-year quarter,” said Steve Cooper, Warner Music Group’s CEO.

“The combination of our creative expertise, global expansion, commercial innovation and financial discipline makes us very confident about our long-term growth prospects.”

“We again solidly grew both revenue and OIBDA,” added Eric Levin, Warner Music Group’s Executive Vice President and CFO.  “Our cash position also remains strong with $462m on the balance sheet at quarter-end.”

Music Business Worldwide

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