Welcome to the new record business: Warner Music Group is now generating over $270m from TikTok, Peloton, Facebook and other ‘alternative’ platforms annually

Warner Music Group Chairman and CEO, Steve Cooper, was interviewed by Goldman Sachs' Stephen Laszczyk today (September 23)

MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a single data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution, and rights management company.

It’s been some week for the major record companies.

Universal Music Group debuted on the Amsterdam stock exchange with a market cap of $54 billion on Tuesday (September 21). Warner Music Group saw its share price rise by nearly 10% that same day. And Sony Corp, parent of Sony Music Group, has seen its stock price jump up by 6.8% from market close on Monday through to now.

Much of the investor buzz around the majors has, obviously enough, focused on on-demand music streaming, and the growth potential offered by the likes of Spotify and YouTube over the next decade – particularly in so-called emerging markets.

Yet there’s also been a fair amount of investor chatter about other fast-growing, non-traditional sources of music income – typically secured via licensing agreements – from platforms such as TikTok, Facebook and Peloton, plus music’s blossoming commercial relationship with gaming (including Roblox).

Today (September 23), Warner Music Group boss Steve Cooper revealed a stunning stat about this second, less talked-about area of the business – a stat that, according to MBW’s calculations, suggests this is a sector already worth a billion dollars in annual revenue for the global music rights industry.

Speaking during an interview at the Goldman Sachs‘ Communacopia event this afternoon, Cooper confirmed that Warner Music Group’s recorded music operation has a present run-rate of $235 million per year in revenue from “alternative offerings that create new use cases for music”.

Cooper also confirmed that the same sources of revenue are providing cash at a “proportionate rate” to WMG’s music publishing business.

“We believe that this intersection between gaming, fitness, [and] social/digital, will drive substantial revenues in the future,” said Cooper.

What are these “alternative offerings”?

Cooper notably called out Facebook (which has “begun to utilize music in new and interesting ways over the last couple years”) as well as TikTok, Peloton and Roblox for their material contributions to that $235 million number, plus other platforms and innovations that are providing “new use cases” for music.

“You’ve got to keep in mind that in all of these areas – metaverses and gaming, live-streaming, utilization of avatars, NFTs – are all in their infancy [in terms of their relationship with, and payment to, music rightsholders],” said Cooper. “But many of them have a potential to become the next global platform. And in fact, many of them are already moving in that direction.”

Further crunching the numbers on what Cooper revealed today says a lot about how powerful these new revenue streams are set to become for rightsholders large and small in the years ahead:

  • First things first: Warner’s music publishing division (Warner Chappell) was 16.4% of the size of its recorded music division, revenue-wise, in the firm’s last fiscal quarter (to end of June 2021). So when Steve Cooper says that “alternative offerings” are currently generating money for Warner Chappell at a “proportionate rate” to WMG’s records business – and that this records business is making $235 million a year from them – we can safely assume that WMG’s publishing operation is generating somewhere around $38 million on an annual run-rate from the same platforms.
  • Combined, across publishing and records, this means that Warner must currently be generating around $273 million from Facebook, TikTok, Peloton etc. on an annualized basis.
  • According to Music & Copyright, Warner Music Group claimed a 15.9% market share of worldwide record business revenues in 2020. If accurate, this would suggest that the current revenue opportunity across the entire record industry from “alternative offerings” is somewhere in the region of $1.48 billion per year (i.e. if Warner’s $235 million figure only represents 15.9% of the business being done across the industry, $1.48 billion would be the total ‘pie’).

Warner, of course, could have achieved a much higher market share than 15.9% of the total money now coming into the music biz from Facebook / TikTok / Peloton etc.

Indeed, Steve Cooper claimed today that his firm has been unusually “early to this game” in terms of Warner “leveraging these [alternative] platforms with strategic partnerships and investment”.

So for argument’s sake, let’s say Warner is currently eating up a full 25% of the yearly money coming from “alternative” platforms to the recorded-music-plus publishing industries ($273 million, in Warner’s case).

That would still mean that Facebook/TikTok/Peloton et al are already a billion-dollar annual revenue generator for the wider global music rights business today.

Added Cooper in his Communacopia interview: “We intend to continue to invest well beyond traditional streaming. And we do see that over time, [these platforms] should provide a tremendous incremental revenue opportunity for the music sector.”

In a wide-ranging discussion at Communacopia with Goldman Sachs’ Stephen Laszczyk, Cooper was also asked about Universal’s industry-shaking flotation from earlier this week (at that handsome $54 billion opening market cap).

He replied: “Just to state the obvious, before [Warner] went public [last year] and UMG was spun out of Vivendi, we’d been successfully competing in the music sector [against] Universal and Sony for decades. Because of our ‘One Warner’ approach, our global scale, and particularly our artist-friendly agility, I think we are actually better positioned than our competitors to take advantage of the dynamic changes that have and will continue to take place in the music landscape over the next couple of years.”

“With respect to Universal, I think their spin-out is good news for the music sector… I think it’s especially nice that Universal agrees with our vision of the future.”

Steve Cooper, Warner Music Group

Added Cooper: “With respect to Universal, I think their spin-out is good news for the music sector. The market reaction has validated the favorable global trends around music.

“Having another pure-play music company in the public eye will enhance investor education around the value that major music companies really provide. And I think it’s especially nice that Universal agrees with our vision of the future.”

Cinq Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy awards, dozens of Gold and Platinum RIAA certifications, and numerous No.1 chart positions on a variety of Billboard charts. Its repertoire includes heavyweights such as Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, T.I., Sean Kingston, Anuel, and hundreds more.Music Business Worldwide

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