A $6B FISCAL '22

In Steve Cooper’s final fiscal year as CEO, Warner Music Group pulled in nearly $6b, a 16% spike in constant currency over the previous year, thanks to double-digit growth in streaming revenue.

Digital revenue of $3.87b represented 65.3% of the $5.92b total for the year. The percentage total is lower than the previous year as a result of increases in music publishing, syncs and artist services/expanded-rights revenue, which rose 36.5% in constant currency thanks to the return of concerts and merchandise sales.

Recorded-music streaming revenue increased by 9.5% in constant currency to $4.97b due to continued growth in streaming services. The sector was affected by a market-related slowdown in ad-supported revenue and the benefit of an additional week, partially offset by the impact of a new deal with a digital partner, an $11m catch-up payment from a digital partner and a $10m true-up payment in ad-supported revenue, all of which benefited the prior year.

Music publishing came in at just under a billion—$958m—with streaming income up 32.8%.

OIBDA topped $1b in the year, up 20.9% in constant currency over fiscal 2021, while operating income hit $714m.

As for the fourth quarter, revenue was up 16% in constant currency to nearly $1.5b, of which recorded music accounted for $1.24b.

“Against the backdrop of a challenging macro environment, we once again proved music's resilience, with new commercial opportunities emerging all the time,” Cooper said.

WMG CFO Eric Levin noted, “The momentum in our business is strong, underpinned by global subscriber growth, subscription price increases and the expansion of emerging platforms. As we look ahead, we're excited to share amazing releases from the world’s hottest artists as well as innovative tech collaborations that will strengthen our position at the intersection of music, film, TV, social media, fitness and gaming.”

In a conference call with analysts in which Cooper touted WMG’s recent past and future—Eastern Europe is ripe for expansion; early 2023 will see new music from Cardi B, Roddy Ricch and Paramore, among others—he noted that incoming CEO Robert Kyncl has an “impressive resume of championing change” in his previous jobs that will “unlock new opportunities for the company, artists and songwriters.”

Cooper also told investors to look at WMG on a yearly basis, that viewing the company via quarterly results is “slightly misguided.” “Our march for the last nine to 10 years has been steadily northward on the topline and the bottom line,” he said. “That steady march will continue for the foreseeable future. Quarters can be impacted by any number of extraneous items—getting a deal done a quarter late, a change in release schedules—but all the quarter-to-quarter blips tend to even out. Yearly is a far better way to measure us.”