Warner Music Group Reports Record Quarterly Earnings, Strong Digital Growth Despite Pandemic

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In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner Music Group (WMG) secured all-time-high quarterly earnings (as a standalone company) and experienced double-digit digital growth during the first quarter of its fiscal year.

The Big Three record label revealed the performance specifics associated with the first quarter of its fiscal year, for the three months ending on December 31st, 2020, this afternoon. Warner Music Group’s revenue totaled $1.335 billion during the three-month-long stretch – a 6.3 percent boost from the $1.256 billion delivered by the same period in 2019.

Within the figure, recorded music income finished at $1.161 billion, to $1.084 billion across October, November, and December of 2019. Digital recorded music earnings hiked 15 percent year over year, from $633 million to $727 million, and accounted for approximately 62.6 percent of all Warner Music Group Q1 FY recorded music revenue. Streaming revenue itself grew 17.5 percent over the prior-year quarter, to $692 million (the remaining $35 million is attributable to downloads and “other digital”).

Rounding out recorded music, Warner Music Group’s licensing income was nearly flat year over year, at $80 million, and physical income dipped to $174 million from $184 million in the final three months of 2019.

On the publishing side, Warner/Chappell turned in a slightly improved showing year over year, including revenue of $175 million from $173 million in the prior year – albeit while enjoying a huge uptick in digital. Even with the just one percent or so bump in revenue, digital publishing increased 36 percent from 2019’s latter quarter, resting at $99 million.

Predictably, performance publishing revenue fell by $16 million year over year, to $30 million, as did mechanical (from $15 million to $11 million) and sync (from $36 million to $33 million).

Addressing his company’s first-quarter financials in a statement, Warner Music CEO Stephen Cooper said, in part: “Despite the impact of COVID, we generated the highest quarterly revenue in our 17-year history as a standalone company, growing 4% compared to the prior-year period, which was unaffected by COVID. The strong double-digit growth in our digital revenue and direct-to-consumer business more than offset the continued disruption to our performance, merchandising, and physical revenue.”

Warner Music stock (bought and sold as WMG) experienced a 1.17 percent gain during today’s trading hours, finishing at $35.50 per share. Additionally, after-hours trades had brought a roughly .4 percent increase at the time of this piece’s publishing.

Warner Music is reportedly close to finalizing a $200 million deal for a minority stake in Rotana Music, and the Big Three label joined Roblox’s $520 million raise earlier this month. Separately, Spotify is slated to release its own earnings report (also covering the latter three months of 2020) this Wednesday, February 3rd.

3 Responses

  1. Joshua Read

    Maybe now they can afford to pay their writers and artists what they owe them?

    • Edgar

      Can and Will are two words with very different meanings. The label always had to ability to pay correctly, they just didn’t.

  2. Tom Hendricks

    What’s more amazing is that Warner did this with virtually no hits!