Warner Music Group Reports 21% Quarterly Revenue Jump — As Digital’s Share Surpasses 62%


Warner Music
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Warner Music
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Photo Credit: Unsplash

Due to yet another strong showing from streaming, Warner Music Group (WMG) achieved a 20.9 percent year-over-year revenue improvement during 2021’s fourth quarter, including a 30.9 percent YoY boost in publishing income.

The Big Three record label revealed these and other noteworthy performance specifics in a newly released earnings report, covering October, November, and December of 2021 – the first quarter of Warner Music Group’s 2022 fiscal year.

Revenue totaled $1.61 billion during the three-month stretch, marking a 20.9 percent hike from Q4 2020, as mentioned at the outset. Within the figure, recorded music revenue touched $1.39 billion (up 19.4 percent YoY), and Warner Chappell publishing operations generated $229 million (up 30.9 percent YoY, as noted). A full 62.1 percent of WMG’s Q4 2021 revenue came from digital, compared to 61.8 percent in the prior-year quarter.

Digging into the recorded side, WMG’s digital revenue increased by 19.7 percent (totaling $870 million) during Q4 2021, whereas physical turned in a $21 million YoY jump of its own, at $195 million.

Warner Music Group attributed the digital-revenue gain – just $34 million came from downloads, with the remainder deriving from streaming – to “the strong performance of new and carryover releases, as well as revenue growth from emerging streaming platforms.”

By region, the U.S. produced $723 million of WMG’s Q4 2021 revenue – for $151 million growth from Q4 2020, including $127 million more for recorded music. International revenue, meanwhile, approached $892 million during 2021’s fourth quarter, against $764 million in Q4 2020 (encompassing $680 million from recorded music).

Lastly, regarding WMG’s recorded-music revenue across 2021’s latter three months, “artist services and expanded-rights” brought in $232 million (up $52 million YoY), “reflecting an increase in merchandising and concert promotion revenue,” compared to $89 million for licensing (up $9 million YoY).

Shifting to the major label’s publishing division, the previously disclosed $229 million that Warner Chappell pulled down includes $133 million from digital (up 34 percent YoY).

By segment, WMG’s Q4 2021 publishing showing consists of $38 million from performance (up $8 million YoY), $14 million from mechanical (up $3 million YoY), $42 million from sync (up $9 million YoY), and $2 million from “other.”

Finally, WMG’s Q4 2021 operating income finished at $239 million (up $43 million YoY), while net income improved from $99 million to $188 million. Despite the company’s beating earnings estimates, Warner Music Group stock (NASDAQ: WMG) was down about 8.4 percent from yesterday’s close at the time of this piece’s writing, for a per-share price of $37.14.

The figure represents a more than 16 percent decline during the last five trading days and is about 3.4 percent beneath WMG’s value one year ago; shares in late October of 2021 cracked a record high of $50.23 each before embarking on a gradual decline.

2 Responses

  1. Tom Hendricks

    The Big Three Labels war against all indies continues
    The more you look at music and the failure for all independents to have any real success, the more it comes down to the Big Three Labels that control 80% directly and more through parent companies, lawsuits, leverage on streaming, radio, concerts, music media.
    This has never been like this before in history. Let’s be honest, no one here has a chance.
    Want proof ? You saw how big Napster got, then it was destroyed by The Big Three Labels. Can you match Napster success.
    Still not enough.
    We independent musicians have tried every trick in the book in music over 20 years and all have failed. Now let’s attack the real source of the problem, The Big Three Labels.
    Start by asking media why they won’t cover any of this!
    Nobody has a fair chance until we do. That has been proven year after year!

    • Ewe Blinked

      It always amazes me to read your incomprehensible rants. Settle down on the vitamins or Red Bull, Tom.