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STRINGER TOUTS SONY MUSIC TO SHAREHOLDERS

Rob Stringer delivered a state-of-the-state address to Sony shareholders on Wednesday (5/25), during which he touted the expansion of the music group's unrecouped-advances program, hit artists, global and niche markets and investments in catalogs and labels.

Sony Music created its Artists Forward initiative a year ago. Under its auspices, the company is not recouping money owed by artists signed prior to 2000 who haven't taken an advance since 2000. SME is expanding that effort to include artists and songwriters signed to Sony for more than 20 years, offering eligibility on a rolling basis.

Stringer pointed to a suite of digital-insight tools offering real-time earnings, reporting, cash-out and advance capabilities that allow creators more information about and control of their finances, part of the company's transparency efforts. “We believe we are game-changers in our desire to look after our talent properly in this complex digital age,” he declared.

The Sony Music chairman opened his portion of the Sony Group’s 2022 Business Segment Briefing by noting that the company recently set new records for revenue, profits and margins for a fifth consecutive year.

“We have transformed our position and strength in the ecosystem through smart acquisitions, partnerships and investments globally,” he said, citing smashes by Adele and Harry Styles on the recorded-music side and Ed Sheeran and Olivia Rodrigo on the publishing side. “We now offer a wider array of entry touchpoints to the creative community than ever before.”

The  company’s average weekly share of Spotify’s worldwide Top 100 tracks rose to 36.1%, up half a percentage point from a year ago, while Top 10 worldwide tracks rose to 48.5% from 39% in fiscal 2020. Sony Music Publishing’s songwriters had an average of 33% of the weekly share of Spotify’s global Top 100, up from 27% a year ago.

Stringer noted that the global roster of frontline labels is up 30% over the last five years, with the creative staff up by more than 85%. “We will proactively expand our roster and staff as more and more music is available through the DSPs,” he said.

New business categories—social, gaming and fitness—account for nearly $500m in revenue, and the company is participating in the Web3 market and partnerships in the NFT space. “Anywhere there is consumer engagement with audio and visual content, we will be heavily involved,” he affirmed.

Among Sony’s expansions in emerging markets are the recent purchase of Som Livre in Brazil, the creation of RCA China and investments in India, Africa and the Middle East. Stringer singled out the acquisitions of Alamo and AWAL and the catalogs of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan as examples of the company's “desire to build on our already giant-scaled creative-content base," commenting, "We will keep accelerating our creative momentum with a continued aggressive investment in talent through expanding our roster of artists and songwriters organically and through strategic acquisitions of content companies.”

In conclusion, Stringer offered, “We want to lead by example, not only for our creators but by our people embodying the core values of diversity, inclusion, respect and equity. These values inform the way we build a progressive workplace to serve our people and, in turn, those creators.

"Our work has tremendous cultural impact. Music goes beyond borders to empower, inspire and heal. We take that influence very seriously and through our important Philanthropy and Social Impact division, we leverage our resources to promote positive change while being intensely market-competitive in every way.”

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