In 2004, Warner Music Was Sold for $2.6 Billion. This Year Alone, the Company Made $3.58 Billion.

Warner Music Group's revenues up 10.2% this year.
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Warner Music Group's revenues up 10.2% this year.
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photo: Ba Su (CC0)

According to financial details disclosed today, Warner Music Group’s annual revenues are up 10.2% to $3.58 billion.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Back in 2004, Warner Music Group was dumped for a depressed valuation of $2.6 billion.  Now, the company is making more than that in one year.

According to financial details shared today, WMG commanded revenues of $3.58 billion over the past four quarters.  That’s up 10.2 percent, and part of a Cinderella story spurred by streaming.

Separately, rival Universal Music Group has been valued at $40 billion.  That is, by its owner, Vivendi, which is thinking stratospheric thoughts for the label space.  And a possible IPO ahead.

In its financial call, WMG chief executive Stephen Cooper was a little more down to earth.  “We’ve been outperforming the industry in an environment where the music business is returning to health,” Cooper stated.  “We’ve now had five consecutive years of global revenue growth in constant currency, and the last two were up double digits.”

Indeed, WMG’s annual net profit bumped to to $149 million, up from $30 million in fiscal 2016.

Warner’s fiscal year ends September 30th.

And of course, there’s the streaming and digital story.  Back in 2004, the iTunes Music Store was just growing legs.  But most iPods were stuffed with hundreds — or thousands — of free mp3s, and streaming was a niche category.  Four years later, Spotify was hatched in Sweden, though the prospects for Warner remained dim.

Major Labels Are Making $14.2 Million a Day From Streaming

Now, digital is easily more than half of all WMG revenues.  In fact, streaming is approaching 50% of Warner Music’s entire revenue pot.  For the fiscal year,  the label reported $1.34 billion of streaming revenues.  That’s nearly 80% of the company’s digital pie, and 44% of the broader revenue total.

Even the publishing side is looking good.  WMG division Warner/Chappell boosted annual revenues by 9.2% to $572 million.  Of that, digital assets accounted for roughly one-third of the total.



3 Responses

  1. Peter

    Revenue is impressive but it’s the profit after operating costs that matters. If I’ve done my sums correctly it will take 18 years to pay off $2.6 billion with an annual profit of $146 million and that’s not allowing for interest. So as much as the figures are improving and huge I’m still not seeing a great purchase. What am I missing?

  2. musicdoesntpay

    nothing new, the only ones that make money from streaming are those at the top… everyone else can s*ck it… Wasn’t the same in the 90’s … and 80s.. and 70s??

  3. hateon

    149 million in profit on 3.58 billion in revenue? what percentage is that? 4? wouldn’t be surprised if even that much is because they received a lump sum from spotify or something…

    also what i’m not getting: spotify losing a billion between 2016-17, with losses increasing. at what point can they ever make money? even if they are the last man standing in streaming, wouldn’t it be decades before they could …

    oh wait. it’s a tech play. IPO, sell some shares, get out before it implodes.

    (like, at least amazon got into hosting, and groceries, and a.i., and space travel)