April 17, 2014

(Not) Breaking News: Record Labels on Life Support

As record companies continue to lament the decline of their industry—in 2000, the industry peaked with worldwide sales of $40 billion, and is half that now—we’re always wondering how grim grim can be. According to Billboard Magazine, it’s still grim. Here’s the latest earnings reports from the Big Four:

EMI
For the year ended March 3, EMI lost $800 million—actually, an improvement over the previous year’s loss of $2.3 billion. Revenue jumped about 5% to $2.5 billion, but still, it’s not like it was in the days of their bread and butter from another century, Enrico Caruso. Now, there’s a guy who moved units.

Warner Music Group
In its fiscal third quarter ending June 30, WMG reported a 15% drop in revenue, to $652 million. Net loss was $55 million, its worse in six quarters and second lowest in the last five years. Digital revenue grew a mere 2% year-over-year to $179 million and was down 10% from the previous quarter. Recorded music revenues were down 17.9%.

Universal Music Group
At $1.01 billion in the second quarter, UMG’s revenue was up nearly 3% over the second quarter of 2009. But in the last 12 months, UMG’s revenues were down nearly 8% versus the prior 12-month period.

Sony Music Group
In the quarter ended June 30, Sony Music’s sales increased 1.3% to $1.24 billion—thanks to best-selling titles like AC/DC’s “Iron Man 2,” music from “Glee,” Usher’s Raymond vs. Raymond and Christina Aguilera’s Bionic.

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