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Warner boss bases optimism on further digital growth

By | Published on Friday 14 December 2012

Warner Music

Warner Music yesterday said that it saw revenues rise in the quarter to 30 Sep this year, while losses were down both in the quarter and over the year. The music major’s CEO Stephen Cooper said the last twelve months had been a “very productive year”, and that his company was “performing well”, and was now well “positioned to capitalise on the industry’s more stable recent trends”.

In terms of figures, revenue for the last quarter was up 2% year-on-year to $731 million, while losses were down to $18 million (or $10 million, depending how they are calculated). For the year, revenues were down slightly, $2.78 billion compared to $2.87 billion the previous year, but losses were also down, from $205 million to $112 million.

The continued growth of digital was behind the good news at Warner, bringing in ever increasing revenues to the major’s record labels, while also generating royalties for the Warner/Chappell publishing business.

However, while digital is now going someway to replacing former revenues from CD sales, which continue to decline of course, other newer and alternative revenue streams for the major did not perform so well in 2012, with the major’s artists services unit, its interests in live music in Europe, and sync deals at Warner/Chappell – all supposedly growth areas for the big music firms – generating less cash in 2012 than 2011.

Nevertheless, Cooper remained upbeat. According to Billboard, he said: “All signs continue to indicate that digital is fuelling a return to growth in the music industry. The download business, which was the first wave of the digital music business, continues to expand, and [streaming services] are growing at an even faster rate than downloads”.

The Warner chief also seemed to think that the growth in the number of digital services, ensuring more players in the market, was another reason to be hopeful, citing both Microsoft’s new Xbox music offer and Google Play, despite his company being rather late to the party with the latter.