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WMG POSTS $1.56B QUARTER

Warner Music Group’s revenue was up more than 9% in the quarter that ended 6/30, topping $1.5b. Music publishing was up 16%.

Digital revenue topped $1b, a 9% increase to nearly $1.03b, while streaming revenue was up 9.5%. Growth in recorded-music streaming revenue, which was up 6.3%, owed to a stronger release schedule and an increase in ad-supported revenue. Music-publishing streaming revenue was up 27.1%, helped by a ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board.

“Our Q3 results were driven by a wide diversity of music, and our strength came from many different territories, labels and revenue lines," said WMG CEO Robert Kyncl. "We succeeded with artists and songwriters across the spectrum of genres and generations, with both new releases and catalog projects. We expect our momentum to build, led by our extraordinary music and inventive campaigns, as well as improving macro and industry trends. We continue to invest in new creative talent and develop our expertise and resources while collaborating with partners across the entertainment economy to drive long-term success.”

On total revenue of $1.564b, operating income was $189m, compared to $146m in the prior-year quarter. OIBDA was $275m, compared to $233m in the prior-year quarter, an increase of 18%. OIBDA margin rose 1.3% to 17.6%, from 16.3%.

Recorded-artist services and expanded-rights revenue increased 14.7%, primarily due to a spike in concert-promotion and merchandising revenue. Licensing revenue was up 22.7%, with growth in synchronization and broadcast fees. Physical revenue was up 2.4%, thanks largely to stronger performance in the U.S. Leading the quarter were releases by Ed Sheeran, Linkin Park and Melanie Martinez.

Kyncl said the company is seeing momentum accelerate into Q4, singling out recent projects by Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug and Gunna, plus the Barbie soundtrack.

On his call with stock analysts, he also discussed AI, price increases at DSPs and WMG’s deal with Tik Tok.

The latter covers the main TikTok app, the rollout of the subscription service TikTok Music, the video-editing app CapCut and TikTok’s Commercial Music Library.  “This deal features improved monetization per MAU that is comparable to that of other ad-supported DSPs, fully recognizing the value of our music and how critical it is to engagement on the platform,” he said.

As for AI, Kyncl offered, "We're leaning in, moving fast and working with a network of partners, including both generative AI engines and distribution platforms.” He singled out the use of AI for videos by Disturbed, Riton and Linkin Park, sync deals involving the use of Sammy Davis Jr. and Maria Callas vocal performances and a duet between Costa Rica’s Pedro Capmany and his late father, Jose Capmany. “With the right framework in place, AI will also enable fans to pay their heroes the ultimate compliment through a new level of user-driven content, including new cover versions and mashups,” Kyncl continued. "AI is unquestionably one of the most transformative forces in human history. Nonetheless, this technology shift is more familiar terrain than first meets the eye. Like many technologies before, it presents massive opportunities for human creativity and innovation.”

Kyncl applauded the recent price increases announced by Spotify, Tidal and YouTube before reflecting on Netflix's pricing trajectory, which started around $20, dropped to $7.99 and most recently pushed to around $19. “I’m not suggesting that we go to $19 today,” he said, noting that WMG does not have a new deal with Spotify. “[Netflix’s] level of innovation around price is incredible. DSPs in the music space will begin at the same pace. We’re not in a relationship with consumers here; DSPs are. But we obviously want to make sure we’re working collaboratively.”

WMG CFO Eric Levin added, “The market’s adoption of subscription price increases combined with the ongoing evolution of our key partnerships gives us tremendous optimism for the future of streaming growth.”

WMG's stock rose 7% to $32.72 Tuesday after its third-quarter profit and revenue beat analyst estimates of $1.47b.

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