What Coronavirus Impact? Universal Music Group Posts a Solid Q1

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Despite the far-reaching economic strain and financial impact of the novel coronavirus, Universal Music Group (UMG) posted solid earnings during the first quarter of 2020.

French media conglomerate Vivendi, which owns 90 percent of UMG, disclosed the Big Three record label’s Q1 2020 performance in an earnings report that was released (and shared with Digital Music News) this morning.

Universal Music Group turned in revenues of over $1.92 billion (about €1.77 billion) during this year’s first quarter, according to the report. Compared to the same period in 2019, which saw UMG’s revneue just cross the $1.63 billion mark (approximately €1.5 billion), the figure represents a 17.8 percent uptick.

Significantly, UMG’s impressive Q1 2020 resulted from an across-the-board rise in revenue, compared to Q1 2019 figures. Each sub-division except music merchandise enjoyed greater earnings.

Recorded music saw a nearly 20 percent boost, from about $1.32 billion (€1.21 billion) to $1.56 billion (€1.43 billion). Within this sphere, subscriptions and streaming drew roughly $988 million (€908 million), marking a more than 23 percent hike from Q1 2019 levels.

Additionally, “other digital sales,” which refers mainly to digital downloads, increased by close to 40 percent, to $149 million (€137 million), whereas physical sales, including vinyl, held steady at approximately $213 million (€196 million), a 1.4 percent rise from Q1 2019. Plus, UMG’s licensing income grew by 10.5 percent, in comparison to Q1 2019, to about $208 million (€191 million).

Lastly, music publishing revenue expanded by a fifth, between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020 once again, to $295 million (€271 million); merchandise earnings fell by just two percent, to $76 million (€70 million).

Due in large part to the stellar showing of Universal Music Group, the most lucrative of its assets, Vivendi itself reported Q1 2020 revenues in excess of $4.2 billion (€3.87 billion), up nearly 12 percent from the same time last year.

Last month, Chinese conglomerate Tencent finalized its long-planned, $3.3 billion purchase of a 10 percent stake in Universal Music Group. And a couple weeks back, UMG CEO Lucian Grainge revealed that he’d won his battle with COVID-19.