Financial Times  Apr 24  Comment 
UMG, Sony Music and WMG allege site’s filtering technology fails to identify enough of their content
Cloud Computing  Mar 8  Comment 
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the...
New York Times  Feb 9  Comment 
Papers filed in federal court show that Warner Music Group agreed to pay $14 million to settle claims over the song “Happy Birthday to You.”
Forbes  Feb 5  Comment 
Major record labels aren't known for being particularly generous to their artists, but in at least one case, that might change a little. Warner Music Group (WMG) has made it known that should it ever sell its stake in Spotify, at least some of the...
TechCrunch  Jan 20  Comment 
 Deezer, the Paris-based music and other audio streaming service with 6.3 million users that planned but ultimately cancelled an IPO last year, has now tapped existing investors for more funding: today the company is announcing that it has...
guardian.co.uk  Dec 18  Comment 
British company says it plans to continue developing its technology for barring touts from ticketing pre-sales The British company that helped to prevent 18,000 touts from buying tickets for Adele’s 2016 tour has raised $10m of funding to...
TechCrunch  Dec 17  Comment 
 Songkick, the concert discovery app and ticketing company (after it merged with white-label artist-to-fan ticket seller CrowdSurge), has raised a further $10 million in funding from previous backer Access Industries, owner of WMG. It follows a...
New York Times  Sep 23  Comment 
The decision is a blow to the music publisher Warner/Chappell and its parent, the Warner Music Group, which reportedly still collect some $2 million annually in licensing fees.
Clusterstock  Sep 11  Comment 
Getting to the Hamptons can be a real drag on the 1%.  Blade, an aviation startup cofounded by former Sony and Warner Music Group exec Rob Wiesenthal and GroupMe cofounder Steve Martocci, aims to make it a little easier on you.  Blade uses...
Forbes  Aug 11  Comment 
When someone in a movie sings “Happy Birthday to You,” or a group of waiters offers an a capella version at the next table, the Warner Music Group collects the fees. The company’s subsidiary, Warner/Chappell Music, claims to hold the...


Warner Music Group (NYSE:WMG) is the world's third largest recorded music and music publishing company.[1] Its major domestic record labels include Warner Bros. Records and The Atlantic Records Group.[2] WMG's extensive recorded music catalog includes 28 of the top 100 U.S. best-selling albums of all time, (more than any other recorded music company), including the number one best-selling U.S. album of all time, The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975.[1] Signed artists range from Madonna to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Josh Groban to Missy Elliott, and R.E.M. to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.[2] The company earned $3.5 billion in revenue and $169 million in net income in 2009.[3]

Despite these strengths, WMG's revenues have been flat over the past few years due to declining CD sales and illegal music downloading, two factors which have offset gains from increased digital sales. The company's future success will depend on how successfully it adapts to the "digitalization" of the music industry. In addition to selling audio and video content through iTunes and other online media distribution centers, WMG has signed deals with sites like YouTube to receive advertising revenue from its posted video content. The company has also expanded its relationship with cell phone providers in an effort to get its digital content to more wireless subscribers.

Company Overview

Business Segments[2]

  • Recorded Music (82% of net sales) - The recorded music division oversees the sale, and licensing of music in a number of physical (CDs, DVDs) and digital (downloads, ringtones) formats. Major music companies like WMG have built up substantial recorded music catalogs that they can exploit for years after they stop releasing an artist's new albums, whether through compilations, box sets, special package releases, etc. In a given year, these catalog albums usually comprise around 40% of WMG's recorded music sales.
  • Music Publishing (18% of net sales) - WMG's music publishing segment owns and acquires the rights to musical compositions, which they then market to others who pay a royalty for their use. Warner holds over a million copyrights from more than 65,000 composers and songwriters.

Business Growth

FY 2009 (ended September 30, 2009)[3]

  • Net revenues remained flat at $3.5 billion. A 16% decline from physical products was offset by a 10% increase in digital products.
  • The company incurred a net loss of $169 million, down from the net gain of $60 million earned in the previous year

Trends and Forces

  • Maturation of the CD market leads to declining physical sales for music industry: From 1990 to 1999, the U.S. recorded music industry grew at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6%, a trend that was fueled in part by the replacement of vinyl records and cassettes with CDs. Since then, it's estimated that yearly sales of physical music product in the U.S. have declined at a compound annual growth rate of 6%. The recorded music industry as a whole has also seen negative growth since 1999, largely because of digital piracy, but also partly because of declining CD sales. WMG has not managed to escape this trend, as evidenced from the graph above showing a steady decline in revenue from physical sales over the past few years.[4]
  • WMG exploits growth of new formats for recorded music distribution: As the CD market has waned, the market for MP3 players like the ipod and digital music formats has exploded. Although we are still in the early stages of the music industry's digital revolution, Warner has already begun exploiting new avenues of media distribution. It has deals with online stores like iTunes to sell single tracks, albums, and video content. In addition, Warner was one of the first major music companies to enter into agreements to distribute its music video library on video sharing sites like YouTube in return for a chunk of the advertising revenue generated from those videos. The company has also expanded into the cell phone market with ringtones, track downloads, and music video downloads, a strategy it hopes will provide a hedge against the more insecure online market where piracy abounds. Digital sales comprise 25% of the company's net sales.[5]
  • WMG and competitors try to contain digital piracy: Illegal music downloading remains the music industry's biggest threat. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) approximates that almost 20 billion songs were illegally downloaded in 2006.[6] WMG was originally a firm supporter of digital rights management technology (DRM), which prevents consumers from sharing their iTunes songs with friends. However, because of strong consumer dislike for DRM that had a greater negative impact on sales than it did a positive impact on piracy, Warner has begun to distribute its catalog DRM-free. Nonetheless, the future growth of the company and those like it will depend on their ability to find an accepted way to combat digital piracy. In addition to digital piracy, major record labels also face industrial piracy, which involves the mass production of illegal CDs in factories, mostly in developing countries. These CDs are sold at significantly lower prices than their legal counterparts.[7]


WMG's closest competitors are its rivals in the "Big Four" consortium: Sony BMG, EMI Group, and Universal Music Group. All four operate in recorded music and music publishing.

The "Big Four" account for 74% of all retail music sales globally.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 WMG 2009 10-K "Our Company" pg. 1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 WMG 2009 10-K pg. 6-11
  3. 3.0 3.1 WMG 2009 10-K "Selected Financial Data" pg. 41
  4. WMG 2009 10-K "Industry Overview" pg. 17-19
  5. WMG 2009 10-K "Revenues" pg. 50
  6. WMG 2007 10K, Item 1, pg.16
  7. WMG 2009 10-K "Capitalize on Digital Distribution" pg. 4-5
  8. WMG 2009 10-K "Competition" pg. 15
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