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WMG TOPS $4B IN FISCAL 2018

Warner Music Group brought in more than $4b in a fiscal year for the first time since it became a standalone company in 2004. The bank balance is flush with $500m on hand.

Total revenue increased 12%— or 9.2% in constant currency—with growth in the usual areas (digital, licensing, artist services, synchronization and mechanical revenue) and a drop in physical revenue. Digital revenue grew 20.4% (or 18.5% in constant currency), and represented 56.2% of total revenue, compared to 52.3% in the prior year. 

Streaming brought in $1.73b compared to $1.34b the previous 10/1-9/30 fiscal year.  Money from downloads dropped to $286m from $350m.

The label side of WMG pulled in $3.36b in the 12 months ending 9/30, an 11% spike. Digital revenue of $2.02b was up 20.4%, representing 56.2% of total revenue, compared to 52.3% in the prior year. In the middle of 2018, the traditionally physical markets of Germany and France delivered more than half their revenue from digital for the first time. 

Ed Sheeran, The Greatest Showman soundtrack, Cardi B, Bruno Mars and Dua Lipa were the year’s biggest sellers. 

While WMG CEO Steve Cooper and CFO Eric Levin delivered the good news about streaming's effect on the bottom line in a conference call, Cooper did add an element of caution while carefully detailing what he sees in the crystal ball. 

Streaming’s growth in established markets will slow, he said, and “I would expect over the next five to 10 years, what we see is akin to saturation.” 

In emerging markets, he noted, "we would expect to see reduced economics just because of the economic status of those countries and the ability of the population to pay. While we expect a strong trajectory for metrics around subscriptions, we can expect a more modest revenue growth.”

His chief concern is RPU—revenue per user—which he says the company is discussing with streaming to see how that amount might rise.

He also warned that it was unlikely that the Coyote would ever catch that Roadrunner, despite the former's highly lucrative partnership with the Acme Corporation.

Music Publishing revenue of $653m was up 14.2% (or 11.8% in constant currency) over fiscal 2017 with growth in all segments.  Music Publishing digital revenue rose 26.7% to $237m.

During the call, Cooper also paid tribute to Aretha Franklin and Mac Miller after touting the company’s acquisitions, label relaunches, Grammy nominations and the recent posthumous success of a Johnny Hallyday record.

 

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