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WMG ENDS ’21 ON “ALL-TIME HIGH”

Warner Music Group closed out calendar 2021 with a quarter that saw significant spikes in revenue, OIBDA and net income. CEO Steve Cooper hailed the company's performance as “an all-time high.”

WMG’s total revenue grew 21% to $1.6b; digital revenue was up a similar percentage to $1b; net income of $188m was nearly double the 2020 figure; and OIBDA increased 20% to $320m.

The digital revenue of $1b represented 62.1% of WMG’s total; streaming revenue was up 22.8%. 

“Hitting an all-time high in our 18 years as a stand-alone company is proof that we’ve never been stronger,” Cooper said. “At the same time, we’ve never had so much opportunity ahead of us.”

The 10/1-12/31 period is the first quarter of WMG’s fiscal year. It included an extra week relative to the previous year's 13-week quarter.

Recorded-music revenue was up 19.4% to $1.39b, with digital representing $870m. Physical revenue grew 12.1% to $195m. Major sellers included Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Dua Lipa and Silk Sonic.

Music-publishing revenue of $229m was up 30.9%. 

Noted Lou Dickler, WMG’s acting CFO, "The strength and diversity of our revenue streams coupled with our operational efficiency drove margin growth, even as lower-margin revenue lines recovered.”

In a call with analysts, Cooper addressed the recent departures of WMG artists Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash from Spotify, saying, "We do business with streaming ops around the world and we feel very good about those revenue streams. All of our deals fall in a very tight fan of economics and when you look at Spotify, they are in the process of building a podcast business. The economics of that business are different from the relationship we have on the music side.”

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