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The Ledger: Music Companies Grew Revenues in 2022 – But Their Stock Prices Went in the Opposite Direction

Even as business boomed amid global streaming growth and the widespread return of live shows, the value of 20 companies on the Billboard Global Music Index fell 36.4% last year.

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Music companies across the board grew revenues in 2022, fueled by global streaming growth and the return of live music. Their stock prices went in a different direction, though.  

The Billboard Global Music Index, a group of 20 music-focused companies listed in five countries, declined 36.4% in 2022.  

The index aggregates the market capitalizations of 20 music companies spanning record labels, music publishing, live music, streaming and broadcasting. Each company’s float — the outstanding shares — has been adjusted to remove corporate owners, executives, directors and other long-term shareholders. 

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Music companies weren’t the only stock losers of 2022. Markets were down across the board as interest rates rose, inflation soared and investors placed greater value on profits than growth potential. The index’s deficit was slightly bigger than that of the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite and almost double the 19.4% decline of the S&P 500. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a collection of 30 blue-chip companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Home Depot, fell just 8.8%. 

The two largest companies in the index, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, fared relatively well. UMG’s share price fell 9.2% and WMG’s declined 18.9%. Another label group, South Korea’s SM Entertainment, improved 3.4% — one of only two companies in the index whose share prices rose in 2022. As a group, however, record labels and publishers’ adjusted float declined 23.1%. The largest deficit of the group was 50.3% by South Korea’s HYBE, whose main artist, BTS, sent the stock spiraling by announcing a hiatus in June.  

The six streaming companies’ index value declined 54.9%, the worst of the index’s four sectors. Spotify’s share price dropped 66.3% and the company dropped to the fourth-largest contributor to index value, after finishing as the top contributor at the end of 2021. The dramatic downturn wasn’t surprising given what was happening in the broader marketplace. Streaming stocks generally benefited from the early days of the pandemic as consumers listened to and viewed more content online and subscriptions spiked. But investors fled many pandemic darlings in 2022: Netflix shares fell 51.1% and Disney shares dropped 43.9%.  

With a 20.9% gain in 2022, Tencent Music Entertainment was the rare company in positive territory -- not that it isn’t well below its all-time high. While Spotify and other stocks started to drop in mid-December 2021 after the Federal Reserve announced it would raise interest rates in 2022, Tencent Music’s share price had nowhere to go but up. In March 2021, after Chinese regulators cracked down on Tencent Music’s exclusive licensing contracts -- many other Chinese companies also came under fire for various reasons -- the share price fell 58.5% over three days and another 70.9% through Dec. 20, 2021.  

The smaller streaming companies, on average, fared worse than their larger competitors. Abu Dhabi-based Anghami declined 84.3% and French streamer Deezer dropped 51.4%. Both companies went public in 2022 via reverse mergers with publicly traded blank check companies (SPACs), so their annual performance is calculated using the Dec. 31, 2021, share price of the public companies they merged with. Shares of LiveOne fell 49.7%.  

Streaming companies’ declines mirrored the losses of some high-profile tech stocks. Amazon, another high-flying pandemic stock, fell 49.6%. Meta sank 64.2% as the company put billions of dollars into building a metaverse that few people seemingly want to visit. Tesla fared even worse by slipping 65% as investors appeared worried that CEO Elon Musk was spending too much time mismanaging his latest acquisition, Twitter, and hurting the brand’s value amongst liberal consumers. 

The index value of live music companies — Live Nation, CTS Eventim and MSG Entertainment — declined 35.9%. Even though Live Nation posted record revenues in the second and third quarters as the touring business recovered from pandemic-era lows, the company’s index value dropped 41.7% in 2022. Live Nation’s shares stumbled 10.9% over two days in November after the problematic pre-sale for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour enraged consumers and brought the possibility of regulatory action (about half of that loss was recovered by the end of December). MSG Entertainment shares fell 36.6% while German promoter CTS Eventim fell just 7.4%.  

Broadcasters’ index value declined 33.3%. Even though shares of satellite radio company SiriusXM, the largest broadcaster by market capitalization, declined just 8.0%, the two terrestrial broadcasters in the index fared much worse. IHeartMedia shares fell 70.9% and Cumulus Media dropped 44.8%.  

The relatively good performance of labels and publishers — especially the larger ones — brought those eight companies’ share of the index’s value to 49.2%, up from 40.7% at the end of 2021. The six streaming companies’ share of the index value declined to 22.1% from 31.1%. 

U.S.-listed companies improved their share of the index to 58.9%, up from 49.9% at the end of 2021. Some of the change can be attributed to the growth in the dollar, which reduces the value of foreign-listed companies when adjusted market capitalizations are converted to U.S. dollars. Compared to the dollar, the euro was down 5.5%, the pound sterling was down 10.4%, the Korean won was down 5.8% and the Hong Kong dollar was down 0.2% in 2022.