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Sony Music Revenues Jump 16% Thanks to SZA & Streaming

By Michael Feb 14, 2024

With SZA’s album SOS leading the way and the market enjoying more growth in streaming royalties, Sony Music’s revenue grew 16.0% to 422.1 billion yen ($2.85 billion at the period’s average exchange rate) in its fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, the company announced Wednesday (Feb. 14). 

Other top releases for the quarter were Travis Scott’s Utopia, Rod Wave’s Nostalgia, Doja Cat’s Scarlet, Blink-182’s One More Time…, Tate McRae’s Think Later, Harry Styles’ Harry’s House and Fuerza Regida’s Pa Las Baby’s Y Belikeada. A couple holiday classics were amongst Sony’s top albums in the Christmas quarter: Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas and Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector

Streaming fueled growth in both the recorded music and music publishing segments of the business. Paid subscriptions were a major factor in the first full quarter after Spotify raised prices in roughly 50 markets, including the U.S., in July. Favorable foreign exchange rates accounted for about 24% of the quarter’s 58.4 billion yen ($394.9 million) revenue increase. 

Its double-digit revenue growth was comparable on a percentage basis to other music companies that have released earnings. In the same quarter, Warner Music Group’s revenue grew 17.5% to $1.75 billion and Reservoir Media revenue improved 19% to $35.5 million. Spotify, the largest single source for music royalties globally, grew revenue by 16% to 3.67 billion euros ($4.05 billion). 

Sony Music’s margins improved across the board, too. Operating income improved 20.8% to 76.1 billion yen ($514.4 million) and adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization jumped 25.3% to 98.5 billion yen ($666.2 million). Adjusted OIBDA margin improved nearly two percentage points to 23.3% from 21.6% in the prior-year quarter. 

The strong quarter led Sony Music to raise its full-year forecasts for the third consecutive quarter. On Wednesday, the company raised the forecasts for both revenue and adjusted OIBDA by 10 billion yen ($68 million) — revenue from 1.56 trillion yen ($10.37 billion at the current exchange rate) to 1.57 trillion yen ($10.43 billion) and adjusted OIBDA from 350 billion yen ($2.33 billion) to 360 million yen ($2.39 billion). When the company released its fiscal second quarter earnings in November, it increased its revenue guidance by 5% to 70 billion yen ($485 million) and adjusted OIBDA by 4%, or 15 billion yen ($104 million). In August, it raised its revenue forecast by 6%

Both music divisions each posted solid year-over-year gains in the quarter. Recorded music revenues jumped 19.9% to 286.5 billion yen ($1.94 billion). Streaming revenue rose 17.2% to 186.5 billion yen ($1.26 billion) and accounted for about 58% of the segment’s improvement. Physical revenue gained just 1.5% to 31.5 billion yen ($213.2 million). The “other” category — including merchandise, live performances and licensing revenue from synch, public performance and broadcast — jumped 45.9% to 59.7 billion yen ($403.9 million).  

Music publishing revenue rose 16.1% to 86.1 billion yen ($582 million). Streaming revenue climbed 22.4% to 50.9 billion yen ($343.9 million) and accounted for 78% of the segment’s year-over-year gain. Publishing’s “other” category grew 8% to 35.2 billion yen ($238.1 million). 

Visual media and platform revenue declined 5.1% to 45 billion yen ($304.4 million). The segment includes mobile gaming, software for PCs and game consoles, and software development contracts. 

Financial metrics for Sony Music’s fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2023:

  • Revenue of 422.1 billion yen ($2.85 billion), up 16.0% year over year. 
  • Adjusted operating income of 98.5 billion yen ($666.2 million), up 25.3% year over year.
  • Recorded music of 286.5 billion yen ($1.94 million), up 19.9% year over year.
  • Music publishing revenue of 86.1 billion yen ($582 million), up 16.1% year over year.
  • Visual media and platform revenue of 45 billion yen ($304.4 million), down 5.1% year over year. 

By Michael

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