Universal Music Group has issued strong Q1 figures, though they only tell part of the story of the Covid-19 impact which took hold this month in many parts of the world.
Yet the major remains upbeat about its prospects during the lockdown.
During parent company Vivendi’s virtual AGM, Olivier Nusse, CEO of Universal Music France, spoke on behalf of Universal Music Group to update investors on its performance – and how it’s likely to be affected by Covid-19.
“It’s too early to tell how much the worldwide pandemic might affect our group,” said Nusse. “It will certainly impact physical sales, and merchandising sales on tours and in stores.
“The impact on streaming should be more limited, and vary depending on the market and remuneration method. Streaming by subscription, which generates the largest portion of UMG revenues by far, is intrinsically more stable and robust. The key factor is our market share and there’s no reason it might decrease. Ad-funding streaming is likelier to be affected, along with the advertising market as a whole.”
He added: “We’ve released several hit albums this year, which are fuelling the market. The one by The Weeknd [After Hours], which we happened to release near the height of the pandemic, had the best start of the year in the US.
“During the lockdown, UMG teams are working extremely hard together, around the world, to release new content, new experiences and many pioneering practices, which will be fantastic assets when we move past the crisis. Our e-commerce business is growing especially fast these days, so we are stepping up our direct distribution to consumers.”
Nusse highlighted Universal Music Group’s support schemes for staff, artists and songwriters affected by coronavirus.
Looking back at the major’s results, he noted the expansion of the market leader – and hailed the leadership of UMG CEO/chairman Sir Lucian Grainge.
“We are still expanding in new markets,” said Nusse. “Last year, we substantially strengthened our positions in China and South-East Asia, and set up new teams in Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
“Our strategy as the music industry leader is flourishing. Under Sir Lucian Grainge’s direction, our global executive management team is leading the company to success, even in these tough times due to the pandemic.”