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Sony Music Surges to $1.85B in Revenue After 43% Rise in Streaming

Sony’s music operations and visual media/platform posted a sharp increase in revenue from July to September, growing 17.6% to 271.6 billion yen ($2.467 billion), according to the company’s earnings report released Thursday (Oct. 28) for the second quarter of its fiscal year. That’s up from 230.87 billion yen ($2.17 billion) over the same period in 2020.

Recorded music and publishing streaming led the way with an extraordinary 44.3% gain to a combined total of 137 billion yen ($1.244 billion), over the prior year’s total of 96.96 billion yen ($894.1 million).

But operating income for the music operations’ second quarter fell slightly to 50.59 billion yen ($459.5 million) from 54.253 billion yen ($510.9 million), a drop of 6.8%. However, the second quarter had a one-time gain of 5.9 billion yen ($55.6 million) due to a segment transfer, so adjusting 2020 operating income by deducting that leaves Sony with a 4.6% gain.

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Looking solely at the music operations and excluding the visual media/platform mobile gaming operations, Sony’s recorded music and publishing operations for the Sony Music Group and Sony Music Japan, the company produced 203.6 billion yen ($1.85 billion) in revenue, a 26.6% gain over 2020’s second quarter when revenue totaled 160.9 billion yen ($1.515 billion).

Recorded music revenue totaled 156.3 billion yen ($1.42 billion) for the quarter, up 26% from 2020’s Q2 tally of 123.3 billion yen ($1.16 billion). Within the segment, streaming enjoyed growth of 43.7% to 113.3 billion yen ($1.03 billion) from last year’s total of 78.83 billion yen ($742.25 million), while sources indicate that the comeback of ad-supported streaming — which in the prior year was down due to ad spending drying up during the pandemic — was a big part of the surge. On the other hand, downloads continued to decline, falling 29.4% to 6.15 billion yen ($55.83 million) from 2020’s second quarter total of 8.7 billion yen ($81.96 million). But overall digital now totals 119.44 billion yen ($1.085 billion), up 36.5% from 2020’s second quarter total of 87.53 billion yen ($824.21 million).

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Meanwhile, going against industry trends this year, Sony’s physical music declined 23% to 20.25 billion yen ($183.9 million) from last year’s total of 26.3 billion yen ($247.54 million), with the drop likely due to the timing of the company’s release schedule. And finally other income streams, including synchronization garnered 16.61 million yen ($150.85 million), a 74.8% gain over the economically-scarred 2020 second-quarter when other income streams totaled 9.5 billion yen ($89.5 million).

As a percentage of recorded music income that breaks down as:

  • Digital: 76.4% consisting of streaming at 72.5% and downloads at 3.9%, versus last year when digital was 71%, with streaming at 63.9% and downloads at 7.1%
  • Physical: 13% versus 2020’s second quarter when it was 21.3% and other is 10.6%, versus last year’s corresponding 7.7%

Sony cited hit titles like Doja Cat’s Planet Her, Lil Nas X’s MONTERO, John Mayer’s Sob Rock and Tyler, The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost, among others, as driving revenue during the quarter. The label also said it is looking forward to releases by Adele, 21 Savage, Ozzy Osbourne, Travis Scott and more.

Moving over to publishing, those operations produced a 26% gain to 47.31 billion yen ($429.7 million) from the corresponding period in 2020 when revenue total 37.56 billion yen ($353.67 million); and again surging steaming numbers made the difference as royalties from digital streaming services grew 47% to 23.7 billion yen ($215.3 million) from 2020’s second quarter total of 16.13 billion yen ($151.88 million). Other music publishing licensing revenue also showed strong growth as it totaled 23.61 billion yen ($214.41 million), versus 2020’s 21.43 billion yen ($201.79 million), or a 10.2 % increase.

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Finally, the visual media/platform segment posted 64.93 billion yen ($589.76 billion) in revenue, and that’s down 3.9% from the year-earlier corresponding period when that segment tallied 67.54 billion yen ($635.92 million).

Sony Music Metrics (Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020)

  • Recorded Music Revenue: $1.42 billion vs. $1.16 billion
  • Streaming Revenue: $1.03 billion vs. $742.25 million
  • Physical Revenue: $183.9 million vs. $247.54 million
  • Publishing Revenue: $429.7 million vs. $353.67 million
  • Operating Income: $459.5 million vs. $510.9 million

First Half Breakdown

For the six month period ended Sept. 30, Sony’s music operations and the visual media/platform segment produced nearly 106 billion yen ($965 million) in operating income on revenue of 520 billion yen ($4.743 million). That represents a 17.9% increase from the company’s 2020 fiscal first half when operating income was 89.9 billion yen ($840.9 million); and a 29.%% increase over the 402.15 billion yen those operations accumulated during that period.

Excluding the visual media/platform segment, Sony’s music operations garnered revenue of 402.63 billion yen ($3.67 billion), or a huge 38.8% increase over the 290.07 billion yen ($2.71 billion).

Breaking out music, the recorded music operation tallied 308.2 billion yen ($2.81 billion) in the first fiscal half of 2021, or a 39.2% increase increase over the 221.4 billion yen ($2.07 billion) rang up in the first fiscal half of 2020.

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Within that, streaming surged by 50.6% to 222.41 billion yen ($2.03 billion) from 127.7 billion yen ($1.38 billion), but downloads fell 20.9% to 12.91 billion yen ($117.6 million) from 16.3 billion yen ($152.7 million). So that means that overall digital increased 43.4% to 235.3 billion yen ($2.14 billion) up from the 164.04 billion yen ($1.54 billion) recorded for the first half of 2020.

However, some of the streaming increases this year is due to a change in the way Sony is accounting for revenue collected from digital services. If both the first and second quarters last year were accounted the same way as those revenues are being recorded for this year, the increase in streaming would still be large at 45%, but down from the 50.6% growth noted above.

Physical formats grew 5.3% in the first half of 2021 to 41.03 billion yen ($373.7 million) from the year earlier corresponding period total of 38.98 billion yen ($365.5 million); while other income streams totaled 31.85 billion yen ($290 million) versus 18.4 billion yen $172.03 million, or a 73.2% increase.

As a percentage of recorded music revenue that breaks out to:

  • Digital: 76.4% consisting of streaming at 72.2% and downloads 4.2%, versus last year when the slash line was 74.1/66.7/7.4
  • Physical: 13.3% versus 17.6%
  • Other: 10.3% versus 8.3%

Publishing grew almost as much as recorded music, increasing by 37.6% to 94.44 billion yen ($860.07 million) versus 68.66 billion yen ($642.3 million). Within that, streaming drove growth, jumping 57.5% to 47.3 billion yen ($430.86 million) from 30.04 billion yen ($281 million). Finally, other licensing income streams tallied almost exactly the same amount of revenue as streaming at 47.13 billion yen ($429.2 million) but only grew 22% from 38.62 billion yen ($361.27 million).

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Unlike in the second quarter, for the first half of the year, the visual media/platform segment managed to eke out some growth, increasing revenue to 118.13 billion yen ($1.075 million), up 5.4% from the 112.09 billion yen accumulated in the fiscal half of 2020.

Looking ahead, Sony upped its forecast for the music operations revenue by 30 billion yen to 1.07 trillion ($9.72 billion) and its operating income forecast by 10 billion yen to 200 billion yen ($1.816 billion) for the current fiscal year.

Overall Sony Corp. results for the second quarter saw the company generate 424.9 billion ($3.87 billion) in net income, or 339.45 yen ($3.09) per share on revenues of 4.63 trillion yen ($42.13 billion). While revenue is up 13.7% from last year’s 4.07 trillion yen ($38.06 billion), net income fell 34.9% from 652.2 billion yen ($6.1 billion), or 522.51.82 yen ($4.89) per diluted share.

Sony Music Metrics (First Half 2021 vs. First Half 2020)

  • Recorded Music Revenue: $2.81 billion vs. $2.07 billion
  • Streaming Revenue: $2.03 billion vs. $1.38 billion
  • Physical Revenue: $373.7 million vs. $365.5 million
  • Publishing Revenue: $860.07 million vs. $642.3 million
  • Operating Income: $965 million vs. $840.9 million

For the second quarter this year, this story uses an exchange rate of 110.1 yen to the dollar and for 2020’s second quarter an exchange rate of 106.2 yen to the dollar. For the half-year period, we use an exchange rate of 109.807 yen per dollar for 2020 and 106.9 per dollar for 2020.