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Warner Music Posts $1.5B in Quarterly Revenue as Publishing Rises 32%

WMG's fourth quarter revenues grew 16% overall on strong recorded music and publishing growth.

Warner Music Group, helped by digital revenue growth across recorded music and publishing, reported quarterly revenues rose 16% at constant currency (9% as reported) to $1.5 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, the company announced Tuesday (Nov. 22). Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, amortization and depreciation (EBITDA) grew by 16% to $276 million.

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In his final quarterly earnings after 12 years as Warner Music’s chief executive, Steve Cooper said, “Against the backdrop of a challenging macro environment, we once again proved music’s resilience, with new commercial opportunities emerging all the time. We’re very well positioned for long-term creative success, and continued top and bottom line growth. We’re excited to have Robert Kyncl joining next year as WMG’s new CEO, as we enter the next dynamic phase of our evolution.”

WMG’s share price edged slightly lower in pre-market trading, down 0.88% to $26.98 on Tuesday at 8:19 a.m. New York time. Warner Music executives will discuss the company’s quarterly and full year results on a call with analysts at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Digital revenue grew 12.3% at constant currency or 6.8% as reported to $989 million, including a $38 million settlement related to certain copyright infringement cases. Total streaming revenue increased by 8.9% at constant currency (3.5% as reported) due primarily to driven by music publishing streaming revenue, which rose by 37.0% at constant currency (or 29.8% as reported).

Recorded music streaming revenue increased by 4.7% at constant currency, but decreased by 0.4% as reported. Digital’s share of total revenue comprised 66.1%, compared to 67.3% in the prior-year quarter, due to the double-digit growth of recorded music artist services and expanded-rights and licensing revenue. 

Music publishing revenue improved 32.3% at a constant currency (23.9% as reported) to $254 million on the strength of digital and performance revenue. Digital revenues jumped 39.5% at constant currency (32.5% as reported) to $159 million. Streaming revenue increased 37.0% in constant currency (29.8% as reported) helped by streaming services and new digital deals. 

In WMG’s recorded music segment, revenues rose 13.1% at constant currency (6.1% as reported) to $1.25 billion. Expanded rights revenue improved 33% to $204 million at constant currency (21.4% as reported) due to an increase in concert promotion revenue following the disruption of the touring business in 2021.

Physical revenue of $123 million was up 6% at constant currency but down 3.1% as reported, primarily due to volatility in exchange rates that offset higher vinyl sales and strong sales in Japan. Digital revenues of $830 million rose 8.1% in constant currency (up 2.9% as reported), and now represents 66.7% of total recorded music revenue compared to 68.9% in the prior-year quarter.

Music publishing contributed nearly 17% of overall company revenues in the quarter, up slightly from the year-ago quarter when music publishing made up 15% of overall revenues. Recorded music revenue contributed 83% of overall revenues in the quarter, down slightly from the year-ago quarter when recorded music revenues comprised 85% of overall company revenues.