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Universal Music Group and Vivendi See Revenue Up in First Quarter

Universal Music Group and its parent company Viviendi both released positive first-quarter earnings today, including shout-outs to the streaming market.

Vivendi, parent company of Universal Music Group and the Canal+ film and television group, released its first-quarter earnings today, seeing 7.5 percent revenue growth over Q1 last year, to €2.49 billion ($2.69 billion).

UMG saw revenues grow by 2.3 percent on a constant currency basis, from €984 million ($1.35 billion) in the corresponding period last year to €1.09 billion ($1.22 billion). It’s the third year of Q1 revenue growth for the major.

Notably, the company writes, “growth in subscription and streaming revenues more than offset the decline in both digital download sales and physical sales.” (Last year, the company cited “significant growth” in streaming, but suffered a 2 percent drop in revenue due to download and physical sales, pointing to streaming’s maturation.) While that falls short of news yesterday that UMG’s third-place rival Warner Music Group had generated more revenue from streaming than downloads, the continuing displacement of ownership by access is, now, a given.

Despite that, the company is said to be in the midst of a fundamental reassessment of its digital strategy and is said to have its sights set on the sunsetting of the “freemium” streaming model. Spotify, the leading streaming service, has repeatedly defended freemium, as did Warner Music Group head Stephen Cooper yesterday.

Vivendi cites four albums released in the quarter as notable performers — the soundtrack to Fifty Shades of Grey, Drake‘s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp a Butterfly and Madonna‘s Rebel Heart, as well as carryover sales from Sam Smith and Taylor Swift.

Earnings before interest, taxation and amortization were up by 39.3 percent, to €82 million ($92 million) through “improved licensing income and a lower proportion of sales from distributed repertoire.” UMG dismantled its distribution arm in late April, moving its various pieces throughout the parent company.

Vivendi’s growth comes a year after the company moved to focus solely on its media properties, moving away from its telecom businesses. The company does operate Vivendi Village, the umbrella for two ticketing companies (Digitick in France and See Tickets in the US and UK, whose revenues grew 6.6 percent), phone assistance company Wengo, the VOD service Watchever in Germany as well as the L’Olympia venue in Paris.