Universal Music Group’s revenues increased by 17.3% year-on-year to €3.83 billion for the first half of 2021.
According to the results from parent company Vivendi, recorded music revenues grew by 20% compared to the first half of 2020.
The results come ahead of UMG’s planned IPO in Amsterdam on September 21. Vivendi confirmed today that if there is any shortfall in the planned acquisition of 10% of the major by Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, it will sell the remainder to other investors ahead of the distribution of 60% UMG’s share capital to Vivendi shareholders next month.
The early impact of Covid on the music industry partly explains some of the year-on-year performance (as seen in Music Week’s Q2 analysis).
While UMG’s first quarter of 2020 benefited from the receipt of a digital royalty claim, revenues in the second quarter of 2020, particularly physical and ad-funded streaming, were impacted by initial lockdown restrictions in response to the pandemic. In addition, the second quarter of 2021 benefited from a catch-up payment from a digital service provider.
During the first half of 2021, Subscription and streaming revenues at UMG grew by 24.7% year-on-year, and physical sales were up 40.1% compared to the first half of 2020 (there was a similar impact across the UK market, as physical bounced back from the pandemic).
Recorded music best sellers for the first half year included a BTS collection, new releases from Justin Bieber and Olivia Rodrigo and continued sales from The Weeknd, Pop Smoke and Ariana Grande.
In the UK, UMG had six of the Top 10 artists for the first half of the year in the OCC artist album rankings, including Olivia Rodrgio at No. 1.
In the United States, UMG had eight of the Top 10 albums for the first half of the year based on MRC data, including all of the Top 5. On the Spotify global chart, UMG had the No. 1 song for 20 of the 26 weeks in the first half of 2021, with Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver’s License and Good 4 U, and Justin Bieber’s Peaches.
Music publishing revenues grew by 3.9% compared to the first half of 2020, driven by increased subscription and streaming revenues. The second quarter of 2020 benefited from the receipt of a digital royalty claim, separate from the one mentioned in respect of recorded music.
Merchandising and other revenues were up 22.2% compared to the first half of 2020, due to growth in retail and D2C activity, and despite the continued impact of the pandemic on touring activity.
According to the results, UMG has also been creatively partnering with digital platforms to “expand monetisation opportunities for artists, and that has particularly been the case this year in social media and fitness”. Big deals including a TikTok licensing agreement.
All figures from Vivendi are at constant currency and perimeter.