UMG revenues up 10% in 2018, 50% sale process 'right on track'

UMG revenues up 10% in 2018, 50% sale process 'right on track'

Universal Music Group’s (UMG) revenues were €6.023 billion (£5.31bn) in 2018, up 10% year-on-year on a constant currency basis. 

The performance of the major, headed up by CEO/chairman Sir Lucian Grainge, was revealed in parent company Vivendi’s financial results for the year.

Vivendi confirmed that the sale process for up to 50% of Universal Music Group is making progess. The major has completed a corporate structure reorganisation, held meetings with banks and expects to select financial advisors to assist in finding one or more strategic partners in the weeks ahead.

The 2018 results will serve as the basis for discussions with potential partners. Chairman and CEO, Arnaud de Puyfontaine said the sale process was “right on track” and that there was "no fixed deadline".

“We’ve been working on making the conditions for an efficient sale process,” he said.

Recorded music revenues grew by 9.8% at constant currency to reach €4.828bn (£4.25bn). The growth was driven by surging subscription and streaming revenues - up 37.3% at €2.596 billion (£4.23bn) - and a stronger market share.

Streaming now accounts for 54% of recorded music revenue, compared to 43% in 2017.

“UMG is pursuing its dynamic growth largely driven by the streaming boom,” said de Puyfontaine.

UMG is pursuing its dynamic growth largely driven by the streaming boom

Arnaud de Puyfontaine

De Puyfontaine said that upcoming renewals of licensing partnerships with DSPs would not have an impact on the negotations for the sale of 50% of UMG.

"All the team lead by Sir Lucian Grainge are working to maintain the leadership position," he said. "It's part of the business to negotiate with the platforms."

The streaming performance more than offset continued decline in downloads (down 23.5%) and physical sales, which fell 16.1% to €948m (£835.9m).

Bestsellers for the year included releases from Drake, Post Malone, The Beatles and Xxxtentacion, as well as the soundtrack release from A Star is Born

Globally, UMG had the top five tracks, the Top 4 artists and the Top 3 albums on Spotify in 2018, as well as occupying the Top 5 positions on Apple Music’s Global Top 100 Songs 2018.

Music publishing revenues grew by 14.5% at constant currency to €941m (£829.7m). That result was also driven by increased subscription and streaming revenues, as well as higher revenues generated from performance rights and sync.

Merchandising and other revenues decreased by 1.5% at constant currency, as a result of lower touring activity.

UMG’s income from operations amounted to €946 million (£834.1m), up 22.1% at constant  currency. UMG’s EBITA amounted to €902m (£795.3m), up 22.1% at constant currency.

During 2018, major artists signed or re-signed with UMG, including Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones and Elton John.

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