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Warner Music Group released its latest quarterly results this week, and there was good news for the company’s CEO, Steve Cooper, and its shareholders.

Not least: Warner says that its turnover in calendar Q4 2020 (its fiscal Q1) represented its “highest quarterly revenue in history as a standalone company”.

WMG’s global recorded music revenues in the quarter were up 4.5% at constant currency YoY to $1.16bn. Within that, quarterly recorded music streaming revenues were up 17.5% to $692m, according to an SEC filing reviewed by MBW.

But how did Warner Music Group fare across the full calendar year of 2020? A calendar year that presented a daunting pandemic-sized challenge for major music companies… and a calendar year that also saw WMG float on the NASDAQ?

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In summary: Warner Music Group’s recorded music division saw its annual streaming revenue bound up by $290m in calendar 2020 vs.2019.

However, WMG’s total recorded music revenue – including streaming, but across all formats and activities – fell very slightly YoY at constant currency (-0.3%) to $3.89bn.

The overall Warner Music Group – across records, publishing, and other activities – saw its calendar year revenues flat vs. 2019 at $4.54bn.

First, the standout positive news: Warner’s recorded music streaming revenues were up 13.1% (+$290m) YoY to $2.51bn in calendar 2020. (Warner doesn’t provide a constant currency comparison for streaming $ in its filings.)

WMG’s global recorded music revenues in calendar 2020 dropped by $10m year-on-year at constant currency (-0.3%), according to MBW’s analysis of Warner SEC filings, to $3.89bn.

For those interested in such comparisons: Warner rival Sony‘s global recorded music streaming revenues were up 19.5% (+$467m) YoY to $2.87bn in calendar 2020.

Sony’s global recorded music revenues (including streaming and other formats) were up 8.1% in the year to $4.51bn.

Warner’s recorded music division saw a YoY drop in revenues in each of the first three quarters of the year, but a YoY rise of $50m in the final quarter of 2020.

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WMG’s overall recorded music division suffered revenue declines in both physical music and ‘Artist Services and Expanded-Rights’ (including merchandise and ticketing). Both categories would have been hurt by the effects of the pandemic.


Warner Music Group’s overall revenues across the course of calendar 2020 – including records, publishing etc. – were almost exactly flat, up by $1m at constant currency on 2019 to $4.542bn.

WMG’s overall revenues followed the same pattern as its recorded music operation, with a YoY dip in revenues in the first three months of 2020, followed by a significant YoY bump (+$49m) in calendar Q4.

Within WMG’s results were the numbers of its publishing division, Warner Chappell Music.

Warner Chappell saw its annual revenues in calendar 2020 rise on calendar 2019, up by $9m (+1.4%) YoY.

The publishing company benefited from an especially significant increase in calendar Q1 when it posted $166m in revenues vs. $154m in the prior year (at constant currency).

H/T : MusicBusinessWorldwide