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WMG CLOSES 2020 WITH RECORD-SETTING QUARTER

In the last three months of 2020, Warner Music Group generated the highest quarterly revenue of its 17 years as a stand-alone company.

Revenue was up 6.3% (3.8% in constant currency) to $1.335b in the final three months of 2020, with Recorded Music pulling in $1.16b, a 7% spike.

Digital revenue of $825m was 16.9% over the same period in 2019 and represented 61.8% of total revenue, compared to 56.2% in the prior-year quarter. Recorded Music's streaming revenue—$692m—was up 16% over the prior-year quarter.

WMG CEO Steve Cooper said, "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.”

COVID-19 had its greatest impact on artist services and expanded-rights revenue in Recorded Music and performance revenue in Music Publishing. Had those areas held steady, total revenue would have increased 10.1% in WMG's first fiscal quarter of 2021.

Operating income was $196m, compared to $165m in the prior-year quarter. OIBDA was $267m, an increase from $236 million in the prior-year quarter, and OIBDA margin increased 1.2% to 20.0% from 18.8% in the prior-year quarter. 

Major sellers in the quarter included Dua Lipa, Ava Max, Johnny Hallyday and Ed Sheeran.

Music Publishing revenue increased 1.2% to $175m. Digital revenue on the publishing side rose 35.6% to $99m, reflecting the continuing shift to streaming and the timing of new deals with digital service providers. Digital represents 56.6% of total Music Publishing revenue vs. 42.2% in the prior-year quarter.  

"While certain areas of our business remain challenged due to COVID, our core streaming business remains strong and our direct-to-consumer destinations and emerging streaming platforms have bolstered our performance,” WMG EVP and CFO Eric Levin said. “We are well positioned for long-term growth.”

The strong results were announced the same day Fortune magazine put the company on its World’s Most Admired Companies list.

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