Warner Music Group revenues soar past $4 billion in 2018

Warner Music Group

The latest financial Warner Music Group results are out – and there’s plenty of festive cheer for CEO Steve Cooper as streaming continues to power growth.

The full-year results for WMG’s financial year, which ended September 30, saw the major record company grow its revenues by 12%, or 9.2% at constant currency, to $4.005 billion (£3.160bn). Digital revenue for the year powered up 20% (18.5% at constant currency) to $2.252bn (£1.777bn).

“We’ve had another terrific year and revenue exceeded $4 billion for the first time in our 15-year history as a standalone company,” said Steve Cooper, Warner Music Group’s CEO. “We continue to invest in our business for the benefit of our recording artists and songwriters and to fuel our long-term growth.” 

Net income for the full year was $312 million (£246m), up from $149m (£118m) in 2017. Operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) was $478m (£377m), up from $473m (£373m).

“The fact that we ended the year with over $500 million in cash, despite significant spend on A&R, marketing, M&A and dividends, is evidence of the underlying strength of our business,” added Eric Levin, Warner Music Group’s executive vice president and CFO. “We’re on a great run and I’m looking forward to many more years of success.”

The company also posted a strong set of Q4 results, with revenue up 13.3% (14.8% at constant currency), with digital revenue up 21.4% (23.1% at cc). Digital accounted for 57.4% of total revenue, up from 53.5% in Q4 2017, as physical music continued to slide. Recorded music, under CEO Max Lousada had another big quarter; top sellers included The Greatest Showman soundtrack, Ed Sheeran’s ÷ album, Dua Lipa and Cardi B. Music publishing revenue at Warner/Chappell also grew, up 15.7% (18% at cc) on the quarter, and 14.2% (11.8% on the full year. W/C boss Jon Platt is due to take over at Sony/ATV in 2019.

Total Q4 operating income across the group was $16m (£12.6m) compared to an operating loss of $1m (£789,000) in the prior-year quarter. OIBDA was $72 million (£57m), up 20.0% from the prior-year quarter and OIBDA margin increased 0.4 percentage points to 6.9% from 6.5% in the prior-year quarter. Net losses shrunk to $13m (£10m) from $38m (£30m) last time.

Warner releases feature in Music Week’s review of the year print edition, out now. To read about Breakthrough Artist Of The Year Anne-Marie, click here. To read the inside story of The Greatest Showman’s chart dominance, click here. To read Max Lousada's Aftershow interview, click here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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