It wasn’t that long ago that the recorded music industry was completely in the doldrums, knocked down to less than half its peak business by a failing physical recording business that showed no signs of being replaced by downloads. Everyone predicted the worst as there was absolutely no faith that the fledgling streaming services could ever have an effect on the various label’s bottom line. But here we are in 2017 and streaming seems to be proving the naysayers wrong, as revenue is ratcheting back up for labels everywhere, and it’s all thanks to streaming. The latest example is the announcement that Warner Music Group showed its best quarter results in 14 years.
Not only that, Warner Publishing also recently had it’s best quarter in 14 years, and for each division it’s the performance of Spotify and other streaming services that have made the difference. In fact, Spotify generated $360m in quarterly recorded music revenues for the company, up 58.6% from last year, while quarterly digital download revenues fell 27% to $88m.
For Warner Music, revenue for the quarter was $770 million, up 13% from the year before, while digital revenue climbed to $445 million, a rise of 30% over 2016. The company’s best-selling artists that contributed to that rise include Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Gorillaz, Clean Bandit and TWICE.
This is generally good news that the industry is thriving and growing once again, and something everyone should be happy about. That said, it’s important to remember that while label, publisher and industry prosperity does trickle down to the artist and songwriter, it is a trickle compared to what the major industry corporations are making. Everything is dependent upon the artist’s agreement with the label and publisher, and while artist attorney’s are more savvy than ever before and push for much better deals for their clients, it’s still but a fraction of what the company is making. Some things never change in the music industry, whether times are good or bad.