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Warner Music Group 10-K 2010
Form 10-K
Table of Contents

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

 

x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010

OR

 

¨ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                      to                     

Commission File Number 001-32502

Warner Music Group Corp.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware   13-4271875

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

75 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, NY

  10019
(Address of principal executive offices)   (Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (212) 275-2000

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $.001 par value   New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ¨    No  x

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ¨    No  x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its Corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulations S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  ¨    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark if the disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendments to this Form 10-K.    x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer  ¨   Accelerated filer  x
Non-accelerated filer  ¨   Smaller reporting company  ¨

(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.)    Yes  ¨    No  x

As of March 31, 2010, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates was approximately $323,191,037, based on the closing price of the common stock of $6.91 per share on that date as reported on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of common stock held by the executive officers and directors and our controlling shareholders have been excluded from this calculation because such persons may be deemed to be affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.

As of November 15, 2010, the number of shares of the Registrant’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share, outstanding was 154,950,776.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Certain information required by Part III of this report is incorporated by reference from the Registrant’s proxy statement to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A with respect to the Registrant’s fiscal 2010 annual meeting of stockholders.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

WARNER MUSIC GROUP CORP.

INDEX

 

               Page
Number
 

Part I.

   Item 1.   

Business

     1   
   Item 1A.   

Risk Factors

     24   
   Item 1B.   

Unresolved Staff Comments

     37   
   Item 2.   

Properties

     37   
   Item 3.   

Legal Proceedings

     37   
   Item 4.   

(Removed and Reserved)

     38   

Part II.

   Item 5.   

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

     39   
   Item 6.   

Selected Financial Data

     41   
   Item 7.   

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

     42   
   Item 7A.   

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

     79   
   Item 8.   

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

     81   
   Item 9.   

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

     129   
   Item 9A.   

Controls and Procedures

     129   
   Item 9B.   

Other Information

     130   

Part III.

   Item 10.   

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

     132   
   Item 11.   

Executive Compensation

     132   
   Item 12.   

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

     132   
   Item 13.   

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

     132   
   Item 14.   

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

     132   

Part IV.

   Item 15.   

Exhibit and Financial Statement Schedules

     133   

Signatures

     139   


Table of Contents

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about the industry in which we operate, management’s beliefs and assumptions made by management. Words such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” or “continue” or the negative thereof or variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions, which are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from what is expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements. We disclaim any duty to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—‘Safe Harbor’ Statement Under Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.”

Our Company

We are one of the world’s major music content companies. Our company is composed of two businesses: Recorded Music and Music Publishing. We believe we are the world’s third-largest recorded music company and also the world’s third-largest music publishing company. We are a global company, generating over half of our revenues in more than 50 countries outside of the U.S. We generated revenues of $2.984 billion during our fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

Our Recorded Music business produces revenue primarily through the marketing, sale and licensing of recorded music in various physical (such as CDs, LPs and DVDs) and digital (such as downloads and ringtones) formats. We have one of the world’s largest and most diverse recorded music catalogs, including 26 of the top 100 best selling albums in the U.S. of all time. Our Recorded Music business has also expanded its participation in image and brand rights associated with artists, including merchandising, sponsorships, touring and artist management. We often refer to these rights as “expanded rights” and to the recording agreements that provide us with participations in such rights as “expanded-rights deals.” Prior to intersegment eliminations, our Recorded Music business generated revenues of $2.455 billion during our fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

Our Music Publishing business owns and acquires rights to musical compositions, exploits and markets these compositions and receives royalties or fees for their use. We publish music across a broad range of musical styles. We hold rights in over one million copyrights from over 65,000 songwriters and composers. Prior to intersegment eliminations, our Music Publishing business generated revenues of $556 million during our fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

Our Business Strengths

We believe the following competitive strengths will enable us to continue to generate stable cash flow through our diverse base of recorded music and music publishing assets:

Industry-Leading Recording Artists and Songwriters. We have been able to consistently attract, develop and retain successful recording artists and songwriters. Our talented artist and repertoire (“A&R”) teams are focused on finding and nurturing future successful recording artists and songwriters, as evidenced by our recent recorded music and music publishing successes. This has enabled us to develop a large and varied catalog of recorded music and music publishing assets that generate stable cash flows. We believe these assets demonstrate our historical success in developing talent and will help to attract future talent in order to enable our continued success.

 

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Stable, Highly Diversified Revenue Base. Our revenue base is derived largely from recurring sources such as our music publishing library, our catalog of recorded music and new releases from our existing base of established artists. In any given year, only a small percentage of our total revenue depends on artists without an established track record. We have built a large and diverse catalog of recordings and compositions that covers a wide breadth of musical styles, including pop, rock, jazz, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, alternative, folk, blues, gospel and other Christian music. We are a significant player in each of our major geographic regions. Broadening our Recorded Music business to participate in expanded rights further diversifies our revenue base. As of the end of fiscal 2010, we have expanded-rights deals in place with over half of our active global Recorded Music roster.

Flexible Cost Structure With Low Capital Expenditure Requirements. We have a highly variable cost structure, with substantial discretionary spending and minimal capital requirements. We spent $51 million in capital expenditures for our fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 and $27 million and $32 million in capital expenditures for our fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and September 30, 2008, respectively. In fiscal 2010, we completed several information technology infrastructure projects, including the delivery of an SAP enterprise resource planning application in the U.S. for fiscal 2011. We continue to seek sensible opportunities to convert fixed costs to variable costs (such as the sale of our CD and DVD manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution operations in 2003) and to enhance our effectiveness, flexibility, structure and performance by reducing and realigning long-term costs. We continue to implement changes to better align our workforce with the changing nature of the music industry by continuing to shift resources from our physical sales channels to efforts focused on digital distribution and emerging technologies and other new revenue streams. In addition, we continue to look for opportunities to outsource additional back-office functions where it can make us more efficient, increase our capabilities and lower our costs. For example, in fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010 we outsourced our information technology infrastructure and certain finance and accounting functions. Finally, we have contractual flexibility with regard to the timing and amounts of advances paid to existing recording artists and songwriters as well as discretion regarding future investment in new artists and songwriters, which further allows us to respond to changing industry conditions. The vast majority of our contracts cover multiple deliverables, most of which are only deliverable at our option.

Digital Leadership. We derive revenue from different digital business models and products, including digital downloads of single tracks and albums, digital subscription services, interactive webcasting, video streaming and downloads and mobile music, in the form of ringtones, ringback tones, full-track downloads and other products. We have established ourselves as a leader in the music industry’s transition to the digital era by expanding our distribution channels, establishing a strong partnership portfolio and developing innovative products and initiatives.

We have focused on expanding the scope and enhancing the structure of our distribution channels. We have agreements with carriers that have a combined base of approximately two billion wireless network subscribers. We have entered into content distribution agreements with mobile operators around the world to foster growth in digital music. We are seeking to better align our business models with the business drivers of our partners, creating commercial models that allow us to participate in customer acquisition, retention and lifetime-value creation of the consumer. Examples of this approach are new access-based models which bundle music with services or devices such as SingTel’s AMPed as well as Vivo and Vodafone’s music subscription services.

We believe that product innovation is crucial. We have focused on producing new music-based digital products for our digitally connected customers. We have integrated the development of innovative digital products and strategies throughout our business and established a culture of product innovation across the company aimed at leveraging our assets to drive creative product development. Through our digital initiatives we have established strong relationships with our customers, developed new products and become a leader in the expanding worldwide digital music business. This has allowed us to continue to increase our digital revenue to 25% of consolidated revenues in fiscal 2010.

 

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Focus on Innovative A&R. We believe our relative size, the strength and stability of our management team, our ability to respond to industry and consumer trends and challenges, our diverse array of genres, our large catalog of hit releases and songs and our valuable music publishing library have and will help us continue to successfully build our roster of recording artists and songwriters. We are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to develop and execute our A&R strategy and to continue to realize significant success in A&R.

Experienced, Stable Management Team. We have a strong management team with a successful record of managing the transition in the recorded music industry. Our CEO and many other members of top management have been with our company since we were acquired from Time Warner in 2004. Since the current management group took over the company, we have successfully implemented an A&R strategy that focuses on ROI for each artist. The current team has also delivered strong results in our digital business, which, along with our efforts to diversify our revenue mix, are helping us transform our company. At the same time, management has remained vigilant in managing costs and maintaining financial flexibility.

Our Strategy

We intend to increase revenues and cash flow through the following business strategies:

Attract, Develop and Retain Established and Emerging Recording Artists and Songwriters. A critical element of our strategy is to find, develop and retain recording artists and songwriters who achieve long-term success, and we intend to enhance the value of our assets by continuing to attract and develop new recording artists and songwriters with staying power and market potential. Our A&R teams seek to sign talented recording artists with strong potential, who will generate a meaningful level of revenues and increase the enduring value of our catalog by continuing to generate sales on an ongoing basis, with little additional marketing expenditure. We also work to identify promising songwriters who will write musical compositions that will augment the lasting value and stability of our music publishing library. We intend to evaluate our recording artist and songwriter rosters continually to ensure we remain focused on developing the most promising and profitable talent and remain committed to maintaining financial discipline in evaluating agreements with artists. We will also continue to evaluate opportunities to add to our catalog or acquire or make investments in companies engaged in businesses that are similar or complementary to ours on a selective basis.

Maximize the Value of Our Music Assets. Our relationships with recording artists and songwriters, along with our recorded music catalog and our music publishing library are our most valuable assets. We intend to continue to exploit the value of these assets through a variety of distribution channels, formats and products to generate significant cash flow from our music content. We believe that the ability to monetize our music content should improve over time as new distribution channels and the number of formats increase. We will seek to exploit the potential of previously unmonetized content in new channels, formats and product offerings, including premium-priced album bundles and full-track video and full-track downloads on mobile phones. For example, we have a large catalog of music videos that we have yet to fully monetize, as well as unexploited album art, lyrics and B-side tracks that have never been released. We will also continue to work with our partners to explore creative approaches and constantly experiment with new deal structures and product offerings to take advantage of new distribution channels.

Enter into Expanded-Rights Deals to Form Closer Relationships with Recording Artists and Capitalize on the Growth Areas of the Music Industry. Since the end of calendar 2005, we have adopted a strategy of entering into expanded-rights deals with new recording artists. We have been very successful in entering into expanded-rights deals. This strategy has allowed us to create closer relationships with our recording artists through our provision of additional artist services and greater financial alignment. This strategy also has allowed us to diversify our recorded music revenue streams in order to capitalize on growth areas of the music industry such as merchandising, fan clubs, sponsorship and touring. We have built significant in-house resources through hiring and acquisitions in order to provide additional services to our recording artists and third-party recording artists. We believe this strategy will contribute to recorded music revenue growth over time.

 

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Focus on Continued Management of Our Cost Structure. We will continue to maintain a disciplined approach to cost management in our business and to pursue additional cost savings with a focus on aligning our cost structure with our strategy and optimizing the enactment of our strategy. As part of this focus, we will continue to monitor industry conditions to ensure that our business remains aligned with industry trends. We will also continue to aggressively shift resources from our physical sales channels to efforts focused on digital distribution and other new revenue streams. As digital makes up a greater portion of total revenue we will manage our cost structure accordingly. In addition, we will continue to look for opportunities to convert fixed costs to variable costs through outsourcing certain functions. These outsourcing initiatives are another component of our ongoing efforts to monitor our costs and to seek additional cost savings.

Capitalize on Digital Distribution. Emerging digital formats should continue to produce new means for the distribution and exploitation of our recorded music and music publishing assets. We believe that the development of legitimate online and mobile channels for the consumption of music content continues to hold significant promise and opportunity for the industry. Digital tracks and albums are not only reasonably priced for the consumer, but also offer a superior customer experience relative to illegal alternatives. Digital music is easy to use, offers uncorrupted, high-quality song files and integrates seamlessly with popular portable music players such as Apple’s iPod/iPhone devices, Microsoft’s Zune player and smartphones which run on operating systems such as Google’s Android, RIM’s Blackberry, Microsoft’s Windows, and Nokia’s Symbian. Research conducted by NPD in December 2009 shows that the above-mentioned characteristics of current digital music offerings are driving additional uptake. More than one-third of U.S. Internet consumers age 13+ who started buying or bought more digital music in the past year did so in order to get content for their portable devices, and more than a quarter did so because it was easy to find music through digital music stores/services and because they found it to be a good value. Conversely, about one-third of U.S. Internet consumers age 13+ who stopped downloading or downloaded less music from file-sharing services in the past year did so because of concerns about getting spyware or viruses through these services—a protection afforded by legitimate digital music services. We believe digital distribution will stimulate incremental catalog sales given the ability to offer enhanced presentation and searchability of our catalog.

We intend to continue to extend our global reach by executing deals with new partners and developing optimal business models that will enable us to monetize our content across various platforms, services and devices. Our research shows that the average U.S. consumer currently actively uses 3.6 different means of consuming music, with online video services like YouTube having emerged as key outlets for music and online radio services like Pandora gaining wider adoption. Research conducted by NPD in December 2009 shows that two out of every five U.S. Internet consumers age 13+ listened to music via an online video site in the past year, and three out of every ten listened to music via an online radio service. Given that worldwide smartphone users are expected to number nearly 1.4 billion by 2015, we expect that the mobile platform will represent an area of significant opportunity for music content. Data from comScore’s MobiLens shows that the uptake of music among users of such phones is significant—three-month averages through September 2010 found that 38% of existing smartphone users in the U.S., and 43% of existing smartphone users in Germany and the U.K., listened to music on their handsets in the past month. We believe that music-related products, services and applications that are optimized for smartphones as well as newer devices like the iPad can be successful.

Contain Digital Piracy. Containing piracy is a major focus of the music industry and we, along with the rest of the industry, are taking multiple measures through the development of new business models, technological innovation, litigation, education and the promotion of legislation to combat piracy. We will continue to take a leadership role in the music industry’s war against piracy as well as continue to support the measures taken by Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (“IFPI”) and National Music Publishers’ Association (“NMPA”), including civil lawsuits, education programs, lobbying for tougher anti-piracy legislation and international efforts to preserve music copyrights. We also believe technologies geared towards degrading the illegal file-sharing process and tracking the source of pirated music offer a means to reduce piracy. Furthermore, legal actions by our industry, both in and outside the U.S., have been designed to educate consumers that obtaining music through unauthorized peer-to-peer networks is

 

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against the law and to deter illegal downloads. The industry has also been working with educational institutions to implement solutions to prohibit students from illegally downloading copyrighted material. We believe that consumer awareness of the illegality of piracy has increased as a result of these initiatives. We believe these actions, in addition to the expansive growth of legitimate online and mobile music offerings, will help to limit the revenues lost to digital piracy. We also believe that so-called “graduated response programs” with ISPs hold similar promise for limiting the revenues lost to digital piracy.

Company History

Our history dates back to 1929, when Jack Warner, president of Warner Bros. Pictures, founded Music Publishers Holding Company (“MPHC”) to acquire music copyrights as a means of providing inexpensive music for films. Encouraged by the success of MPHC, Warner Bros. extended its presence in the music industry with the founding of Warner Bros. Records in 1958 as a means of distributing movie soundtracks and further exploiting actors’ contracts. For over 50 years, Warner Bros. Records has led the industry both creatively and financially with the discovery of many of the world’s biggest recording artists. Warner Bros. Records acquired Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records in 1963. Our Atlantic Records label was launched in 1947 by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson as a small New York-based label focused on jazz and R&B and Elektra Records was founded in 1950 by Jac Holzman as a folk music label. Atlantic Records and Elektra Records were merged in 2004 to form The Atlantic Records Group. Warner Music Group is today home to a collection of record labels, including Asylum, Atlantic, Cordless, East West, Elektra, Nonesuch, Reprise, Rhino, Roadrunner, Rykodisc, Sire, Warner Bros. and Word.

Since 1970, we have operated our Recorded Music business internationally through Warner Music International (“WMI”). WMI is responsible for the sale and marketing of our U.S. recording artists abroad as well as the discovery and development of international recording artists. Chappell & Intersong Music Group, including Chappell & Co., a company whose history dates back to 1811, was acquired in 1987, expanding our Music Publishing business. We continue to diversify our presence through acquisitions and joint ventures with various labels, such as the acquisition of a majority interest in Word Entertainment in 2002, our acquisition of Ryko in 2006, our acquisition of a majority interest in Roadrunner Music Group B.V. (“Roadrunner”) in 2007 (we also acquired the remaining interest in Roadrunner in 2010) and the acquisition of music publishing catalogs and businesses, such as the Non-Stop Music production music catalog.

In 2004, an investor group consisting of Thomas H. Lee Partners L.P. and its affiliates (“THL”), Bain Capital, LLC and its affiliates (“Bain Capital”), Providence Equity Partners, Inc. and its affiliates (“Providence Equity”) and Music Capital Partners L.P. (collectively, the “Investor Group”) acquired Warner Music Group from Time Warner Inc. (“Time Warner”) (the “Acquisition”). Warner Music Group became the only stand-alone music content company with publicly traded common stock in the U.S. in May 2005.

Recorded Music (82% of consolidated revenues, before intersegment eliminations, in each of fiscal 2010, 2009 and 2008)

Our Recorded Music business primarily consists of the discovery and development of artists and the related marketing, distribution and licensing of recorded music produced by such artists.

We are also diversifying our revenues beyond our traditional businesses by entering into expanded-rights deals with recording artists in order to partner with artists in other areas of their careers. Under these agreements, we provide services to and participate in artists’ activities outside the traditional recorded music business. We have built artist services capabilities and platforms for exploiting this broader set of music-related rights and participating more broadly in the monetization of the artist brands we help create. In developing our artist services business, we have both built and expanded in-house capabilities and expertise and have acquired a number of existing artist services companies involved in artist management, merchandising, strategic marketing and brand management, ticketing, concert promotion, fan club, original programming and video entertainment.

 

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We believe that entering into expanded-rights deals and enhancing our artist services capabilities will permit us to diversify revenue streams to better capitalize on the growth areas of the music industry and permit us to build stronger long-term relationships with artists and more effectively connect artists and fans.

In the U.S., our Recorded Music operations are conducted principally through our major record labels—Warner Bros. Records and The Atlantic Records Group. Our Recorded Music operations also include Rhino, a division that specializes in marketing our music catalog through compilations and re-issuances of previously released music and video titles, as well as in the licensing of recordings to and from third parties for various uses, including film and television soundtracks. Rhino has also become our primary licensing division focused on acquiring broader licensing rights from certain catalog recording artists. For example, we have an exclusive license with The Grateful Dead to manage the band’s intellectual property and in November 2007 we acquired a 50% interest in Frank Sinatra Enterprises, an entity that administers licenses for use of Frank Sinatra’s name and likeness and manages all aspects of his music, film and stage content. We also conduct our Recorded Music operations through a collection of additional record labels, including, among others, Asylum, Cordless, East West, Elektra, Nonesuch, Reprise, Roadrunner, Rykodisc, Sire and Word.

Outside the U.S., our Recorded Music activities are conducted in more than 50 countries primarily through WMI and its various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. WMI engages in the same activities as our U.S. labels: discovering and signing artists and distributing, marketing and selling their recorded music. In most cases, WMI also markets and distributes the records of those artists for whom our domestic record labels have international rights. In certain smaller markets, WMI licenses to unaffiliated third-party record labels the right to distribute its records. Our international artist services operations also include a network of concert promoters through which WMI provides resources to coordinate tours.

Our Recorded Music distribution operations include WEA Corp., which markets and sells music and DVD products to retailers and wholesale distributors in the U.S.; ADA, which distributes the products of independent labels to retail and wholesale distributors in the U.S.; various distribution centers and ventures operated internationally; an 80% interest in Word Entertainment, which specializes in the distribution of music products in the Christian retail marketplace; and ADA Global, which provides distribution services outside of the U.S. through a network of affiliated and non-affiliated distributors.

We play an integral role in virtually all aspects of the music value chain from discovering and developing talent to producing albums and promoting artists and their products. After an artist has entered into a contract with one of our record labels, a master recording of the artist’s music is created. The recording is then replicated for sale to consumers primarily in the CD and digital formats. In the U.S., WEA Corp., ADA and Word market, sell and deliver product, either directly or through sub-distributors and wholesalers, to record stores, mass merchants and other retailers. Our recorded music products are also sold in physical form to online physical retailers such as Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and bestbuy.com and in digital form to online digital retailers like Apple’s iTunes and mobile full-track download stores such as those operated by Verizon or Sprint. In the case of expanded-rights deals where we acquire broader rights in a recording artist’s career, we may provide more comprehensive career support and actively develop new opportunities for an artist through touring, fan clubs, merchandising and sponsorships, among other areas. We believe expanded-rights deals create a better partnership with our artists, which allows us to work together more closely with them to create and sustain artistic and commercial success.

We have integrated the sale of digital content into all aspects of our Recorded Music and Music Publishing businesses including A&R, marketing, promotion and distribution. Our new media executives work closely with A&R departments to make sure that while a record is being made, digital assets are also created with all of our distribution channels in mind, including subscription services, social networking sites, online portals and music-centered destinations. We also work side by side with our mobile and online partners to test new concepts. We believe existing and new digital businesses will be a significant source of growth for the next several years and will provide new opportunities to monetize our assets and create new revenue streams. As a music-based content company, we have assets that go beyond our recorded music and music publishing catalogs, such as our music

 

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video library, which we have begun to monetize through digital channels. The proportion of digital revenues attributed to each distribution channel varies by region and since digital music is still in the relatively early stages of growth, proportions may change as the roll out of new technologies continues. As an owner of musical content, we believe we are well positioned to take advantage of growth in digital distribution and emerging technologies to maximize the value of our assets.

Artists and Repertoire (“A&R”)

We have a decades-long history of identifying and contracting with recording artists who become commercially successful. Our ability to select artists who are likely to be successful is a key element of our Recorded Music business strategy and spans all music genres and all major geographies and includes artists who achieve national, regional and international success. We believe that this success is directly attributable to our experienced global team of A&R executives, to the longstanding reputation and relationships that we have developed in the artistic community and to our effective management of this vital business function.

In the U.S., our major record labels identify potentially successful recording artists, sign them to recording agreements, collaborate with them to develop recordings of their work and market and sell these finished recordings to retail stores and legitimate digital channels. Increasingly, we are also expanding our participation in image and brand rights associated with artists, including merchandising, sponsorships, touring and artist management. Our labels scout and sign talent across all major music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, alternative, folk, blues, gospel and other Christian music. WMI markets and sells U.S. and local repertoire from its own network of affiliates and numerous licensees in more than 50 countries. With a roster of local artists performing in various local languages throughout the world, WMI has an ongoing commitment to developing local talent aimed at achieving national, regional or international success.

A significant number of our recording artists have continued to appeal to audiences long after we cease to release their new recordings. We have an efficient process for generating continued sales across our catalog releases, as evidenced by the fact that catalog usually generates more than 40% of our recorded music album sales on a unit basis in the U.S. in a typical year. Relative to our new releases, we spend comparatively small amounts on marketing for catalog sales.

We maximize the value of our catalog of recorded music through our Rhino business unit and through activities of each of our record labels. We use our catalog as a source of material for re-releases, compilations, box sets and special package releases, which provide consumers with incremental exposure to familiar songs and artists.

 

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Representative Worldwide Recorded Music Artists

 

3Oh!3

 

The Eagles

 

Killswitch Engage

 

Panic At the Disco

 

Serj Tankian

The Academy Is.

 

Missy Elliott

 

Mark Knopfler

 

Pantera

 

Rod Stewart

Avenged Sevenfold

 

The Enemy

 

Kobukuro

 

Paramore

 

The Streets

The Baseballs

 

Enya

 

Korn

 

Sean Paul

 

Rob Thomas

Jeff Beck

 

Estelle

 

k.d. lang

 

Laura Pausini

 

Rush

Bee Gees

 

Lupé Fiasco

 

Larry the Cable Guy

 

Pendulum

 

T.I.

Big & Rich

 

Flaming Lips

 

Led Zeppelin

 

Tom Petty

 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

The Black Keys

 

Fleetwood Mac

 

Ligabue

 

Plan B

 

Randy Travis

Black Sabbath

 

Flo Rida

 

Linkin Park

 

Plies

 

Trey Songz

B.o.B

 

Peter Fox

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd

 

Daniel Powter

 

Twisted Sister

James Blunt

 

Aretha Franklin

 

Christophe Maé

 

Primal Scream

 

Uncle Kracker

Michelle Branch

 

Foreigner

 

Maná

 

The Ramones

 

The Used

Bruno Mars

 

Genesis

 

Mastodon

 

The Ready Set

 

Van Halen

Michael Bublé

 

Gloriana

 

matchbox twenty

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers

 

Paul Wall

Cee Lo Green

 

Gnarls Barkley

 

MC Solaar

 

R.E.M.

 

Westernhagen

Tracy Chapman

 

Goo Goo Dolls

 

Metallica

 

Rilo Kiley

 

White Stripes

Ray Charles

 

Josh Groban

 

Bette Midler

 

Damien Rice

 

Wilco

Cher

 

Grateful Dead

 

Luis Miguel

 

Rumer

 

Wiz Khalifa

Chicago

 

Green Day

 

Janelle Monae

 

Todd Rundgren

 

The Wombats

Eric Clapton

 

Gucci Mane

 

The Monkees

 

Alejandro Sanz

 

The Wreckers

Biffy Clyro

 

Gym Class Heroes

 

Jason Mraz

 

Seal

 

Neil Young

Cobra Starship

 

H.I.M.

 

Muse

 

Blake Shelton

 

Youssou N’Dour

Phil Collins

 

Halestorm

 

Musiq Soulchild

 

Shinedown

 

Zac Brown Band

The Corrs

 

Johnny Hallyday

 

My Chemical Romance

 

Simple Plan

 

Death Cab for Cutie

 

Emmylou Harris

 

Nek

 

Frank Sinatra

 

Deftones

 

Hard-Fi

 

New Boyz

 

Skillet

 

Jason Derulo

 

Faith Hill

 

New Order

 

The Smiths

 

Disturbed

 

Hugh Laurie

 

Never Shout Never

 

Regina Spektor

 

Alesha Dixon

 

Jaheim

 

Nickelback

 

Staind

 

Donkeyboy

 

Katherine Jenkins

 

Notorious B.I.G.

 

Stone Temple Pilots

 

The Doors

 

Kid Rock

 

Paolo Nutini

 

Billy Talent

 

Recording Artists’ Contracts

Our artists’ contracts define the commercial relationship between our recording artists and our record labels. We negotiate recording agreements with artists that define our rights to use the artists’ copyrighted recordings. In accordance with the terms of the contract, the artists receive royalties based on sales and other forms of exploitation of the artists’ recorded works. We customarily provide up-front payments to artists called advances, which are recoupable by us from future royalties otherwise payable to artists. We also typically pay costs associated with the recording and production of albums, which are treated in certain countries as advances recoupable from future royalties. Our typical contract for a new artist covers a single initial album and provides us with a series of options to acquire subsequent albums from the artist. Royalty rates and advances are often increased for optional albums. Many of our contracts contain a commitment from the record label to fund video production costs, at least a portion of which is generally an advance recoupable from future royalties.

Our established artists’ contracts generally provide for greater advances and higher royalty rates. Typically, established artists’ contracts entitle us to fewer albums, and, of those, fewer are optional albums. In contrast to new artists’ contracts, which typically give us ownership in the artist’s work for the full term of copyright, some established artists’ contracts provide us with an exclusive license for some fixed period of time. It is not unusual for us to renegotiate contract terms with a successful artist during a term of an existing agreement, sometimes in return for an increase in the number of albums that the artist is required to deliver.

 

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We are also continuing to transition to other forms of business models with recording artists to adapt to changing industry conditions. The vast majority of the recording agreements we currently enter into are expanded-rights deals, in which we share in the touring, merchandising, sponsorship/endorsement, fan club or other non-traditional music revenues associated with those artists.

Marketing and Promotion

WEA Corp., ADA and Word market and sell our recorded music product in the U.S. Our approach to marketing and promoting our artists and their recordings is comprehensive. Our goal is to maximize the likelihood of success for new releases as well as stimulate the success of previous releases. We seek to maximize the value of each artist and release, and to help our artists develop an image that maximizes appeal to consumers.

We work to raise the profile of our artists, through an integrated marketing approach that covers all aspects of their interactions with music consumers. These activities include helping the artist develop creatively in each album release, setting strategic release dates and choosing radio singles, creating concepts for videos that are complementary to the artists’ work and coordinating promotion of albums to radio and television outlets. For example, we recently partnered with MTV Music Group to give MTV Networks exclusive rights to sell ad inventory around our music video content in the U.S. across MTV Music Group’s digital properties and mobile services, as well as on our artist sites and third-party affiliate sites. Through the new partnership, our artists will be able to promote their music through MTV Music Group’s content channels (MTV Networks, VH1 etc), including on the network’s Unplugged series, VH1’s Behind the Music and CMT’s Crossroads. We also continue to experiment with ways to promote our artists through digital channels with initiatives such as windowing of content and creating product bundles by combining our existing album assets with other assets, such as bonus tracks and music videos. Digital distribution channels create greater marketing flexibility that can be more cost effective. For example, direct marketing is possible through access to consumers via websites and pre-release activity can be customized. When possible, we seek to add an additional personal component to our promotional efforts by facilitating television and radio coverage or live appearances for our key artists. Our corporate, label and artist websites provide additional marketing venues for our artists.

In further preparation for and subsequent to the release of an album, we coordinate and execute a marketing plan that addresses specific digital and physical retail strategies to promote the album. Aspects of these promotions include in-store appearances, advertising, displays and placement in album listening stations. These activities are overseen by our label marketing staffs to ensure that maximum visibility is achieved for the artist and the release.

Our approach to the marketing and promotion of recorded music is carefully coordinated to create the greatest sales momentum, while maintaining financial discipline. We have significant experience in our marketing and promotion departments, which we believe allows us to achieve an optimal balance between our marketing expenditure and the eventual sales of our artists’ recordings. We use a budget-based approach to plan marketing and promotions, and we monitor all expenditures related to each release to ensure compliance with the agreed-upon budget. These planning processes are evaluated based on updated artist retail sales reports and radio airplay data, so that a promotion plan can be quickly adjusted if necessary.

While marketing efforts extend to our catalog albums, most of the expenditure is directed toward new releases. Rhino specializes in marketing our catalog through compilations and reissues of previously released music and video titles, licensing tracks to third parties for various uses and coordinating film and television soundtrack opportunities with third-party film and television producers and studios.

Manufacturing, Packaging and Physical Distribution

Cinram International Inc. (collectively, with its affiliates and subsidiaries, “Cinram”) is currently our primary supplier of manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution services in the U.S., Canada and most of

 

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Europe. We believe that the pricing terms of our Cinram agreements reflect market rates. Pursuant to the terms of our agreement with Cinram, we have the option to use third-party vendors for up to a certain percentage of the previous year’s volume provided by Cinram (and up to a higher percentage upon the occurrence of certain events). We also have arrangements with other suppliers and distributors as part of our manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution network throughout the rest of the world.

Sales

We generate sales from the new releases of current artists and our catalog of recordings. In addition, we actively repackage music from our catalog to form new compilations. Most of our sales are currently generated through the CD format, although we also sell our music through both historical formats, such as cassettes and vinyl albums, and newer digital formats.

Most of our physical sales represent purchases by a wholesale or retail distributor. Our return policies are in accordance with wholesale and retailer requirements, applicable laws and regulations, territory- and customer-specific negotiations, and industry practice. We attempt to minimize the return of unsold product by working with retailers to manage inventory and SKU counts as well as monitoring shipments and sell-through data.

We sell our physical recorded music products through a variety of different retail and wholesale outlets including music specialty stores, general entertainment specialty stores, supermarkets, mass merchants and discounters, independent retailers and other traditional retailers. Although some of our retailers are specialized, many of our customers offer a substantial range of products other than music.

The digital sales channel—both online and mobile—has become an increasingly important sales channel. Online sales include sales of traditional physical formats through both the online distribution arms of traditional retailers such as fye.com and walmart.com and traditional online physical retailers such as Amazon.com, bestbuy.com and barnesandnoble.com. In addition, there has been a proliferation of legitimate online sites, which sell digital music on a per-album or per-track basis or offer subscription and streaming services. Several carriers also offer their subscribers the ability to download music on mobile devices. We currently partner with a broad range of online and mobile providers, such as iTunes, Napster, MOG, Rdio, Rhapsody, MTV, Nokia, Spotify, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Orange, Vodafone, eMusic, Virgin Mobile, China Mobile, YouTube and MySpace Music, and are actively seeking to develop and grow our digital business. In digital formats, per-unit costs related directly to physical products such as manufacturing, distribution, inventory and return costs do not apply. While there are some digital-specific variable costs and infrastructure investments needed to produce, market and sell digital products, it is reasonable to expect that we will generally derive a higher contribution margin from digital sales than physical sales.

Our agreements with online and mobile service providers generally last one to two years. We believe that the short-term nature of our contracts enables us to maintain the flexibility that we need given the infancy of the digital business models.

We enter into agreements with digital service providers to make our masters available for sale in digital formats (e.g., digital downloads, mobile ringtones, etc.). We then provide digital assets for our masters to digital service providers in saleable form. Our agreements with digital service providers establish our fees for the sale of our product, which vary based on the type of product being sold. We typically receive sales accounting reports from digital service providers on a monthly basis, detailing the sales activity, with payments rendered on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Our business has historically been seasonal. In the recorded music business, purchases have historically been heavily weighted towards the last three months of the calendar year. However, since the emergence of digital sales, we have noted our business is becoming less seasonal in nature and driven more by the timing of our releases. As digital revenue increases as a percentage of our total revenue, this may continue to affect the

 

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overall seasonality of our business. For example, sales of MP3 players or gift cards to purchase digital music sold in the holiday season tend to result in sales of digital music in subsequent periods. However, seasonality with respect to the sale of music in new formats, such as digital, is still developing.

Music Publishing (18% of consolidated revenues, before intersegment eliminations, in each of fiscal 2010, 2009 and 2008)

Where recorded music is focused on exploiting a particular recording of a song, music publishing is an intellectual property business focused on the exploitation of the song itself. In return for promoting, placing, marketing and administering the creative output of a songwriter, or engaging in those activities for other rightsholders, our music publishing business garners a share of the revenues generated from use of the song.

Our music publishing operations include Warner/Chappell, our global music publishing company headquartered in Los Angeles with operations in over 50 countries through various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. We own or control rights to more than one million musical compositions, including numerous pop hits, American standards, folk songs and motion picture and theatrical compositions. Assembled over decades, our award-winning catalog includes over 65,000 songwriters and composers and a diverse range of genres including pop, rock, jazz, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, folk, blues, symphonic, soul, Broadway, techno, alternative, gospel and other Christian music. Warner/Chappell also administers the music and soundtracks of several third-party television and film producers and studios, including Lucasfilm, Ltd., Hallmark Entertainment, Disney Music Publishing and Turner Music Publishing. In 2007, we entered the production music library business with the acquisition of Non-Stop Music. We have subsequently continued to expand our production music operations with the acquisitions of Groove Addicts Production Music Library and Carlin Recorded Music Library in 2010. These acquisitions doubled the size of our production music library, which now consists of more than 16 catalogs containing about 74,000 cues/songs.

 

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Music Publishing Portfolio

Representative Songwriters

 

Burt Bacharach    Madonna    Stephen Sondheim
Michelle Branch    Maná    Staind
Michael Bublé    James Otto    T.I.
Eric Clapton    Johnny Mercer    Timbaland
Bryan-Michael Cox    George Michael    Van Halen
David Grohl    Van Morrison    Van Morrison
Dido    Muse    Kurt Weill
Dream    Tim Nichols    Barry White
Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff    Nickelback    John Williams
George and Ira Gershwin    Harry Nilsson    Lucinda Williams
Green Day    Paramore    Rob Zombie
Dave Grohl    Katy Perry   
Don Henley    Plain White T’s   
Michael Jackson    Cole Porter   
Claude Kelly    Radiohead   
Lady Antebellum    The Ramones   
Led Zeppelin    R.E.M.   
Lil Wayne    Damien Rice   
Little Big Town    Alejandro Sanz   

Representative Songs

 

1950s and Prior

  

1960s

  

1970s

Summertime    People    Behind Closed Doors
Happy Birthday To You    I Only Want To Be With You    Ain’t No Stopping Us Now
Night And Day    When A Man Loves A Woman    For The Love Of Money
The Lady Is A Tramp    I Got A Woman    A Horse With No Name
Too Marvelous For Words    People Get Ready    Moondance
Dancing In The Dark    Love Is Blue    Peaceful Easy Feeling
Winter Wonderland    For What It’s Worth    Layla
Ain’t She Sweet    This Magic Moment    Staying Alive
Frosty The Snowman    Save The Last Dance For Me    Star Wars Theme
When I Fall In Love    Viva Las Vegas    Killing Me Softly

Misty

The Party’s Over

On The Street Where You Live

Blueberry Hill

Makin’ Whoopee

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

It Had To Be You

You Go To My Head

As Times Go By

Rhapsody In Blue

Jingle Bell Rock

  

Walk On By

Build Me Up Buttercup

Everyday People

Whole Lotta Love

  

Stairway To Heaven

Hot Stuff

Superfly

Listen to the Music

 

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1980s

  

1990s

  

2000 and After

Eye Of The Tiger    Creep    It’s Been Awhile
Slow Hand    Macarena    Photograph
The Wind Beneath My Wings    Sunny Came Home    Complicated
Endless Love    Amazed    U Got It Bad
Morning Train    This Kiss    Crazy In Love
Beat It    Believe    Cry Me A River
Jump    Smooth    White Flag
We Are the World    Livin’ La Vida Loca    Dilemma
Indiana Jones Theme    Losing My Religion    Work It
Celebration    Gonna Make You Sweat    Miss You
Like A Prayer    All Star    Burn
Flashdance       American Idiot
      Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)
      We Belong Together
      Promiscuous
      Crazy
      Gold Digger
      Hey There Delilah
      Sexy Back
      Whatever You Like
      I Kissed A Girl
      All Summer Long
      Gotta Be Somebody
      Single Ladies
      Blame It
      Touch My Body
      Rockstar
      Misery Business
      4 Minutes
      Home
      Let It Rock
      Circus
      Take Me There

Music Publishing Royalties

Warner/Chappell, as a copyright owner and/or administrator of copyrighted musical compositions, is entitled to receive royalties for the exploitation of musical compositions. We continually add new musical compositions to our catalog, and seek to acquire rights in songs that will generate substantial revenue over long periods of time.

Music publishers generally receive royalties pursuant to mechanical, public performance, synchronization and other licenses. In the U.S., music publishers collect and administer mechanical royalties, and statutory rates are established by the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, for the royalty rates applicable to musical compositions for sales of recordings embodying those musical compositions. In the U.S., public performance royalties are typically administered and collected by performing rights organizations and in most countries outside the U.S., collection, administration and allocation of both mechanical and performance income are undertaken and regulated by governmental or quasi-governmental authorities. Throughout the world, each synchronization license is generally subject to negotiation with a prospective licensee and, by contract, music publishers pay a contractually required percentage of synchronization income to the songwriters or their heirs and to any co-publishers.

 

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Warner/Chappell acquires copyrights or portions of copyrights and/or administration rights from songwriters or other third-party holders of rights in compositions. Typically, in either case, the grantor of rights retains a right to receive a percentage of revenues collected by Warner/Chappell. As an owner and/or administrator of compositions, we promote the use of those compositions by others. For example, we encourage recording artists to record and include our songs on their albums, offer opportunities to include our compositions in filmed entertainment, advertisements and digital media and advocate for the use of our compositions in live stage productions. Examples of music uses that generate publishing revenues include:

Mechanical: sale of recorded music in various physical formats

 

   

Physical recordings (e.g., CDs and DVDs)

Performance: performance of the song to the general public

 

   

Broadcast of music on television, radio, cable and satellite

 

   

Live performance at a concert or other venue (e.g., arena concerts, nightclubs)

 

   

Broadcast of music at sporting events, restaurants or bars

 

   

Performance of music in staged theatrical productions

Synchronization: use of the song in combination with visual images

 

   

Films or television programs

 

   

Television commercials

 

   

Videogames

 

   

Merchandising, toys or novelty items

Digital:

 

   

Internet and mobile downloads

 

   

Mobile ringtones

 

   

Online and mobile streaming

Other:

 

   

Licensing of copyrights for use in sheet music

Composers’ and Lyricists’ Contracts

Warner/Chappell derives its rights through contracts with composers and lyricists (songwriters) or their heirs, and with third-party music publishers. In some instances, those contracts grant either 100% or some lesser percentage of copyright ownership in musical compositions and/or administration rights. In other instances, those contracts only convey to Warner/Chappell rights to administer musical compositions for a period of time without conveying a copyright ownership interest. Our contracts grant us exclusive exploitation rights in the territories concerned excepting any pre-existing arrangements. Many of our contracts grant us rights on a worldwide basis. Contracts typically cover the entire work product of the writer or composer for the duration of the contract. As a result, Warner/Chappell customarily possesses administration rights for every musical composition created by the writer or composer during the duration of the contract.

While the duration of the contract may vary, many of our contracts grant us ownership and/or administration rights for the duration of copyright. See “Intellectual Property-Copyrights”. U.S. copyright law permits authors or their estates to terminate an assignment or license of copyright (for the U.S. only) after a set period of time.

 

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Marketing and Promotion

We actively seek, develop and maintain relationships with songwriters. We actively market our copyrights to licensees such as recorded music companies (including our Recorded Music business), filmed entertainment, television and other media companies, advertising and media agencies, event planners and organizers, computer and video game companies and other multimedia producers. We also market our musical compositions for use in live stage productions and merchandising. In addition, we actively seek new and emerging outlets for the exploitation of songs such as ringtones for mobile phones, new wireless and online uses and webcasting.

Competition

In both recorded music and music publishing we compete based on price (to retailers in recorded music and to various end users in music publishing), on marketing and promotion (including both how we allocate our marketing and promotion resources as well as how much we spend on a dollar basis) and on artist signings. We believe we currently compete favorably in these areas.

Our Recorded Music business is also dependent on technological development, including access to, selection and viability of new technologies, and is subject to potential pressure from competitors as a result of their technological developments. In recent years, due to the growth in piracy, we have been forced to compete with illegal channels such as unauthorized, online, peer-to-peer file-sharing and CD-R activity. See “Industry Overview—Piracy.” Additionally, we compete, to a lesser extent, for disposable consumer income with alternative forms of entertainment, content and leisure activities, such as cable and satellite television, pre-recorded films on videocassettes and DVD, the Internet, computers, mobile applications and videogames.

The recorded music industry is highly competitive based on consumer preferences, and is rapidly changing. At its core, the recorded music business relies on the exploitation of artistic talent. As such, competitive strength is predicated upon the ability to continually develop and market new artists whose work gains commercial acceptance. According to Music and Copyright, in 2009, the four largest major record companies were Universal, Sony Music Entertainment (“Sony”), WMG and EMI Music (“EMI”), which collectively accounted for approximately 76% of worldwide recorded music sales. There are many mid-sized and smaller players in the industry that accounted for the remaining 24%, including independent music companies. Universal was the market leader with a 28% worldwide market share in 2009, followed by Sony with a 23% share. WMG and EMI held a 15% and 10% share of worldwide recorded music sales, respectively. While market shares change moderately year to year, market shares have not historically changed significantly from year-to-year.

The music publishing business is also highly competitive. The top four music publishers collectively account for approximately 69% of the market. Based on Music & Copyright’s most recent estimates in April 2010, Universal Music Publishing Group, having acquired BMG Music Publishing Group in 2007, was the market leader in music publishing in 2009, holding a 23% global share. EMI Music Publishing was the second largest music publisher with a 19% share, followed by WMG (Warner/Chappell) at 14% and Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC (“Sony/ATV”) at 12%. Independent music publishers represent the balance of the market, as well as many individual songwriters who publish their own works.

Intellectual Property

Copyrights

Our business, like that of other companies involved in music publishing and recorded music, rests on our ability to maintain rights in musical works and recordings through copyright protection. In the U.S., copyright protection for works created as “works made for hire” (e.g., works of employees or specially commissioned works) after January 1, 1978 lasts for 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first. The period of copyright protection for works created on or after January 1, 1978 that are not “works made for hire” lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. Works created and published or registered in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1978 generally enjoy a total copyright life of 95 years, subject to compliance with certain

 

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statutory provisions including notice and renewal. In the U.S., sound recordings created prior to February 15, 1972 are not subject to federal copyright protection but are protected by common law rights or state statutes, where applicable. The term of copyright in the European Union (“E.U.”) for musical compositions in all member states lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. In the E.U., the term of copyright for sound recordings currently lasts for 50 years from the date of release.

We are largely dependent on legislation in each territory to protect our rights against unauthorized reproduction, distribution, public performance or rental. In all territories where we operate, our products receive some degree of copyright protection, although the period of protection varies widely. In a number of developing countries, the protection of copyright remains inadequate. In the U.S., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”), creates a powerful framework for the protection of copyrights covering musical compositions and recordings in the digital world.

The potential growth of new delivery technologies, such as digital broadcasting, the Internet and entertainment-on-demand has focused attention on the need for new legislation that will adequately protect the rights of producers. We actively lobby in favor of industry efforts to increase copyright protection and support the efforts of organizations such as the RIAA, IFPI and the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”).

In December 1996, two global copyright treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, were signed, securing the basic legal framework for the international music industry to trade and invest in online music businesses. The WIPO treaties were ratified by the requisite number of countries, including the U.S. The U.S. implemented these treaties through the DMCA.

The E.U. has implemented these treaties through the European Copyright Directive, which was adopted by the E.U. in 2001. Legislation implementing the European Copyright Directive in each of the member states is underway. The European Copyright Directive harmonizes copyright laws across Europe and extends substantial protection for copyrighted works online. The E.U. has also put forward legislation aimed at assuring cross border coordination of the enforcement of laws related to counterfeit goods, including musical recordings.

Trademarks

We consider our trademarks to be valuable assets to our business. As such, we endeavor to register our major trademarks in every country where we believe the protection of these trademarks is important for our business. Our major trademarks include Atlantic, Elektra, Sire, Reprise, Rhino, WEA and Warner/Chappell. We also use certain trademarks pursuant to royalty-free license agreements. Of these, the duration of the license relating to the WARNER and WARNER MUSIC marks and “W” logo is perpetual. The duration of the license relating to the WARNER BROS. RECORDS mark and WB & Shield designs is fifteen years from February 29, 2004. Each of the licenses may be terminated under certain limited circumstances, which may include material breaches of the agreement, certain events of insolvency, and certain change of control events if we were to become controlled by a major filmed entertainment company. We actively monitor and protect against activities that might infringe, dilute, or otherwise harm our trademarks.

Joint Ventures

We have entered into joint venture arrangements pursuant to which we or our various subsidiary companies manufacture, distribute and market (in most cases, domestically and internationally) recordings owned by the joint ventures. Examples of these arrangements are Frank Sinatra Enterprises, a joint venture established to administer licenses for use of Frank Sinatra’s name and likeness and manage all aspects of his music, film and stage content.

Employees

As of September 30, 2010 and 2009, we employed approximately 3,700 and 4,000 persons worldwide, respectively, including temporary and part-time employees. None of our employees in the U.S. are subject to

 

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collective bargaining agreements; although certain employees in our non-domestic companies are covered by national labor agreements. We believe that our relationship with our employees is good.

Financial Information About Segments and Foreign and Domestic Operations

Financial and other information by segment, and relating to foreign and domestic operations, for each of the last three fiscal years is set forth in Note 19 to the Consolidated Audited Financial Statements.

INDUSTRY OVERVIEW

Recorded Music

Recorded music is one of the primary mediums of entertainment for consumers worldwide and in calendar 2009, according to IFPI, generated $25.4 billion in retail value of sales. Over time, major recorded music companies have built significant recorded music catalogs, which are long-lived assets that are exploited year after year. The sale of catalog material is typically more profitable than that of new releases, given lower development costs and more limited marketing costs. In the first three quarters of calendar 2010, according to SoundScan, 44% of all U.S. album unit sales were from recordings more than 18 months old, with 34% from recordings more than three years old.

According to IFPI, the top five territories (the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Germany and France) accounted for 75% of the related sales in the recorded music market in calendar year 2009. The U.S., which is the most significant exporter of music, is also the largest territory for recorded music sales, constituting 31% of total calendar year 2009 recorded music sales on a retail basis. The U.S. and Japan are largely local music markets, with 93% and 78% of their calendar year 2009 physical music sales consisting of domestic repertoire, respectively. In contrast, markets like the U.K. have higher percentages of international sales, with domestic repertoire in that territory constituting only 39% of sales.

There has been a major shift in distribution of recorded music from specialty shops towards mass-market and online retailers. According to RIAA, record stores’ share of U.S. music sales declined from 45% in calendar year 1999 to 30% in calendar year 2008, and according to the market research firm NPD, record/entertainment/electronics stores’ share of U.S. music sales totaled 18% in 2009. Over the course of the last decade, U.S. mass-market and other stores’ share grew from 38% in calendar 1999 to 54% in calendar year 2004, and with the subsequent growth of sales via online channels since that time, their share contracted to 28% in calendar year 2008 and remained so in 2009. In recent years, online sales of physical product as well as digital downloads have grown to represent an increasing share of U.S. sales and combined they accounted for 48% of music sales in calendar year 2009. In terms of genre, rock remains the most popular style of music in the U.S., representing 35% of 2009 U.S. unit sales, although genres such as rap/hip-hop, R&B, country and Latin music are also popular.

According to RIAA, from calendar years 1990 to 1999, the U.S. recorded music industry grew at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6%, twice the rate of total entertainment spending. This growth, largely paralleled around the world, was driven by demand for music, the replacement of vinyl LPs and cassettes with CDs, price increases and strong economic growth. The industry began experiencing negative growth rates in calendar year 1999, on a global basis, primarily driven by an increase in digital piracy. Other drivers of this decline were and are the overall recessionary economic environment, bankruptcies of record retailers and wholesalers, growing competition for consumer discretionary spending and retail shelf space and the maturation of the CD format, which has slowed the historical growth pattern of recorded music sales. Since that time, annual dollar sales of physical music product in the U.S. are estimated to have declined at a compound annual growth rate of 11%, although there was a 2.5% year-over-year increase recorded in 2004. In calendar year 2009, the physical business experienced a 21% year-over-year decline on a value basis. According to SoundScan, through October 31, 2010, calendar year-to-date U.S. recorded music album unit sales (excluding sales of digital tracks) are down approximately 13% year-over year. According to SoundScan, adding digital track sales to the unit

 

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album totals based on SoundScan’s standard ten-tracks-per-album equivalent, the U.S. music industry is down 10% in album unit sales calendar year to date through October 31, 2010. Similar declines have occurred in international markets, with the extent of declines driven primarily by differing penetration levels of piracy-enabling technologies, such as broadband access and CD-R technology, and economic conditions.

Notwithstanding these factors, we believe that music industry results could improve based on the continued mobilization of the industry as a whole against piracy and the development of legitimate digital distribution channels.

Piracy

One of the industry’s biggest challenges is combating piracy. Music piracy exists in two primary forms: digital (which includes illegal downloading and CD-R piracy) and industrial:

 

   

Digital piracy has grown dramatically, enabled by the increasing penetration of broadband Internet access and the ubiquity of powerful microprocessors, fast optical drives (particularly with writable media, such as CD-R) and large inexpensive disk storage in personal computers. The combination of these technologies has allowed consumers to easily, flawlessly and almost instantaneously make high-quality copies of music using a home computer by “ripping” or converting musical content from CDs into digital files, stored on local disks. These digital files can then be distributed for free over the Internet through anonymous peer-to-peer file sharing networks such as BitTorrent, Frostwire and Limewire (“illegal downloading”). Alternatively, these files can be burned onto multiple CDs for physical distribution (“CD-R piracy”). IFPI estimates that 40 billion songs were illegally downloaded in 2008.

 

   

Industrial piracy (also called counterfeiting or physical piracy) involves mass production of illegal CDs and cassettes in factories. This form of piracy is largely concentrated in developing regions, and has existed for more than two decades. The sale of legitimate recorded music in these developing territories is limited by the dominance of pirated products, which are sold at substantially lower prices than legitimate products. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) estimates that U.S. trade losses due to physical piracy of records and music in 39 key countries/territories around the world with copyright protection and/or enforcement deficiencies totaled $1.5 billion in 2009. The IIPA also believes that piracy of records and music is most prevalent in territories such as Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Mexico, India and Argentina, where piracy levels are at 60% or above.

In 2003, the industry launched an intensive campaign to limit piracy that focused on four key initiatives:

 

   

Technological: The technological measures against piracy are geared towards degrading the illegal file-sharing process and tracking providers and consumers of pirated music. These measures include spoofing, watermarking, copy protection, the use of automated webcrawlers and access restrictions.

 

   

Educational: Led by RIAA and IFPI, the industry has launched an aggressive campaign of consumer education designed to spread awareness of the illegality of various forms of piracy through aggressive print and television advertisements. These efforts have yielded positive results in impacting consumer behaviors and attitudes with regard to file-sharing of music. A survey conducted by The NPD Group, a market research firm, in December 2009 showed that one out of five U.S. Internet users aged 13 or older who stopped or decreased their usage of file-sharing services for music in the year covered by the survey did so because they were concerned about being sued and/or the legality of such services. A separate survey conducted by NPD in September 2010 found that half of U.S. consumers aged 13 or older felt that music sales had declined because of people using file-sharing services to obtain music, and 38% agreed that stopping people from freely sharing copyrighted music files through a file-sharing network is the honest and fair thing to do.

 

   

Legal: In conjunction with its educational efforts, the industry has taken aggressive legal action against file-sharers and is continuing to fight industrial pirates. These actions include civil lawsuits in the U.S.

 

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and E.U. against individual pirates, arrests of pirates in Japan and raids against file-sharing services in Australia. U.S. lawsuits have largely targeted individuals who illegally share large quantities of music content. A number of court decisions, including the decisions in the cases involving Grokster and KaZaA, have held that one who distributes a device, such as P2P software, with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright can be liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device regardless of the lawful uses of the device.

 

   

Development of online and mobile alternatives: We believe that the development and success of legitimate digital music channels will be an important driver of recorded music sales and monetization going forward, as they represent both an incremental revenue stream and a potential inhibitor of piracy. The music industry has been encouraged by the proliferation and early success of legitimate digital music distribution options. We believe that these legitimate online distribution channels offer several advantages to illegal peer-to-peer networks, including greater ease of use, higher quality and more consistent music product, faster downloading and streaming, better search and discovery capabilities and seamless integration with portable digital music players. Legitimate online download stores and subscription music services began to be established between early 2002 and April 2003 beginning with the launch of Rhapsody in late 2001 and continuing through the launch of Apple’s iTunes music store in April 2003. Since then, many others (both large and small) have launched download, subscription, and ad-supported music services, offering a variety of models, including per-track pricing, per-album pricing and monthly subscriptions. According to IFPI in their “Digital Music Report 2010” publication, there are about 400 legal digital music services providing alternatives to illegal file-sharing in markets around the world. The mobile music business is also significant, with mobile music revenues delivering nearly $1.6 billion in trade value worldwide in 2009, according to IFPI data. While revenues from ringtones initially drove the mobile music business, new mobile phones equipped with new capabilities are increasingly offering the capability for full-track downloads and streaming audio and video. These categories are accounting for a greater share of mobile music revenues while further expanding legitimate options.

These efforts are incremental to the long-standing push by organizations such as RIAA and IFPI to curb industrial piracy around the world. In addition to these actions, the music industry is increasingly coordinating with other similarly impacted industries (such as software and filmed entertainment) to combat piracy.

We believe these actions have had a positive effect. A survey conducted by NPD in December 2009 showed that 38% of U.S. Internet users aged 13 or older who downloaded music from a file-sharing service at any point in the past two years stopped or decreased their usage of such file-sharing services in the year covered by the survey.

Internationally, several recent governmental initiatives should also be helpful to the music industry. France recently enacted “graduated response” legislation pursuant to which repeat copyright infringers could have their Internet connections revoked and be subject to criminal penalties. South Korea and Taiwan have also passed graduated response laws. In addition the Digital Economy Act was passed into law in the UK in April 2010. The Act places obligations on UK ISPs to send notifications to subscribers who infringe copyright. It also contains provisions for the Secretary of State to require ISPs to impose technical measures on infringing subscribers, which could include account suspension. In April 2009, Sweden implemented the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, which was intended to ensure, among other things, the ability to effectively enforce copyright and other civil remedies. There is evidence to suggest that this is having a positive effect in reducing unlawful filesharing on the Internet in Sweden. Similar legislation is also in the process of being passed into law in New Zealand. We believe these actions, as well as other actions also currently being taken in many countries around the world, represent a positive trend internationally and a recognition by governments around the world that urgent action is required to reduce online piracy and in particular unlawful filesharing because of the harm caused to the creative industries. While these government actions have not come without some controversy abroad, we continue to lobby for legislative change through music industry bodies and trade associations in jurisdictions where enforcement of copyright in the context of online piracy remains problematic due to existing local laws or prior court decisions.

 

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In the U.S., the legislature recently passed the PRO-IP Act of 2008, a law that protects copyrights both domestically and internationally. Echoing similar efforts across Europe and Australia, the PRO-IP Act toughens U.S. criminal laws against piracy and counterfeiting, and adds accountability in the law’s implementation. In addition, the Higher Education Act, which sets out provisions designed to ameliorate the peer-to-peer problem on college campuses was also recently enacted. The Act requires colleges to consistently disseminate information to better educate students about the policies, disciplinary actions, risks and penalties of peer-to-peer activities. Furthermore, for educational institutions to have continuing eligibility for federally funded assistance programs, they have to develop plans to effectively combat unauthorized content distribution on campus. We believe all of these actions further the efforts of the music industry to reduce the level of illegal file-sharing on the Internet.

Music Publishing

Background

Music publishing involves the acquisition of rights to, and licensing of, musical compositions (as opposed to recordings) from songwriters, composers or other rightsholders. Music publishing revenues are derived from five main royalty sources: Mechanical, Performance, Synchronization, Digital and Other.

In the U.S., mechanical royalties are collected directly by music publishers from recorded music companies or via The Harry Fox Agency, a non-exclusive licensing agent affiliated with NMPA, while outside the U.S., collection societies generally perform this function. Once mechanical royalties reach the publisher (either directly from record companies or from collection societies), percentages of those royalties are paid to any co-owners of the copyright in the composition and to the writer(s) and composer(s) of the composition. Mechanical royalties are paid at a penny rate of 9.1 cents per song per unit in the U.S. for physical formats (e.g., CDs and vinyl albums) and permanent digital downloads (recordings in excess of five minutes attract a higher rate) and 24 cents for ringtones. There are also rates set for interactive streaming and non-permanent downloads based on a formula that takes into account revenues paid by consumers or advertisers with certain minimum royalties that may apply depending on the type of service. In some cases, “controlled composition” provisions contained in some recording agreements may apply to the rates mentioned above pursuant to which artist/songwriters license their rights to their record companies for as little as 75% of these rates. The foregoing rates are in effect through December 31, 2012. In most other territories, mechanical royalties are based on a percentage of wholesale price for physical product and based on a percentage of consumer price for digital products. In international markets, these rates are determined by multi-year collective bargaining agreements and rate tribunals.

Throughout the world, performance royalties are typically collected on behalf of publishers and songwriters by performance rights organizations and collection societies. Key performing rights organizations and collection societies include: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), SESAC and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in the U.S.; Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society and The Performing Right Society (“MCPS/PRS”) in the U.K.; The German Copyright Society in Germany (“GEMA”) and the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Japan (“JASRAC”). The societies pay a percentage (which is set in each country) of the performance royalties to the copyright owner(s) or administrators (i.e., the publisher(s)), and a percentage directly to the songwriter(s), of the composition. Thus, the publisher generally retains the performance royalties it receives other than any amounts attributable to co-publishers.

The music publishing market has proven to be more resilient than the recorded music market in recent years as revenue streams other than mechanical royalties are largely unaffected by piracy, and are benefiting from additional sources of income from digital exploitation of music in downloads and mobile ringtones. The worldwide professional music publishing market was estimated to have generated approximately $4.3 billion in revenues in 2009 according to figures contained in the April 21, 2010 issue of Music & Copyright. Trends in music publishing vary by royalty source:

 

   

Mechanical & Digital: Although the decline in the physical business has an impact on mechanical royalties, this decline has been partly offset by the regular and predictable statutory increases in the

 

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mechanical royalty rate in the U.S. in the past, the increasing efficiency of local collection societies worldwide and the growth of new revenue sources such as mobile ringtones and legitimate online and mobile downloads.

 

   

Performance: Continued growth in the performance royalties category is expected, largely driven by television advertising, live performance and online streaming and advertising royalties.

 

   

Synchronization: We believe synchronization revenues have experienced strong growth in recent years and will continue to do so, benefiting from the proliferation of media channels, a recovery in advertising, robust videogames sales and growing DVD film sales/rentals.

In addition, major publishers have the opportunity to generate significant value by the acquisition of small publishers by extracting cost savings (as acquired libraries can be administered with little or no incremental cost) and by increasing revenues through more aggressive marketing efforts.

Executive Officers of the Registrant

The following table sets forth information as to our executive officers as of November 17, 2010, together with their positions and ages.

 

Name

   Age     

Position

Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

     55       Chairman of the Board and CEO

Lyor Cohen

     51       Vice Chairman, Warner Music Group Corp. and Chairman and CEO,
Recorded Music—Americas and the U.K.

Michael D. Fleisher

     45       Vice Chairman, Strategy and Operations

David H. Johnson

     64       Chairman and CEO, Warner/Chappell Music

Mark Ansorge

     47       Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Compliance
Officer

Steven Macri

     42       Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Michael Nash

     53       Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy and Business Development

Paul M. Robinson

     52       Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Will Tanous

     41       Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer

Our executive officers are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of, the Board of Directors. Each executive officer is an employee of Warner Music Group or one of its subsidiaries. There are no family relationships among any executive officers or directors of Warner Music Group. The following information provides a brief description of the business experience of each of our executive officers.

Edgar Bronfman, Jr., 55, has served as our Chairman of the Board and CEO since March 1, 2004. Before joining Warner Music Group, Mr. Bronfman served as Chairman and CEO of Lexa Partners LLC, a management venture capital firm which he founded in April 2002. Prior to Lexa Partners, Mr. Bronfman was appointed Executive Vice Chairman of Vivendi Universal in December 2000. He resigned from his position as an executive officer of Vivendi Universal on December 6, 2001, resigned as an employee of Vivendi Universal on March 31, 2002, and resigned as Vice Chairman of Vivendi Universal’s Board of Directors on December 2, 2003. Prior to the December 2000 formation of Vivendi Universal, Mr. Bronfman was President and CEO of The Seagram Company Ltd., a post he held since June 1994. During his tenure as the CEO of Seagram, he consummated $85 billion in transactions and transformed the company into one of the world’s leading media and communications companies. From 1989 until June 1994, Mr. Bronfman served as President and COO of Seagram. Between 1982 and 1989, he held a series of senior executive positions for The Seagram Company Ltd. in the U.S. and in Europe. Mr. Bronfman serves on the Boards of InterActiveCorp, Accretive Health, Inc. and the New York University Langone Medical Center. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Endeavor Global, Inc. and is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Bronfman also serves as general partner at Accretive, LLC, a private equity firm, and is Vice President of the Board of Trustees, The Collegiate School.

 

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Lyor Cohen, 51, has served as the Vice Chairman, Warner Music Group Corp. and Chairman and CEO, Recorded Music—Americas and the U.K. since September 2008. Previously, Mr. Cohen was Chairman and CEO, Recorded Music North America from March 2008 to September 2008 and Chairman and CEO of U.S. Recorded Music since joining the company in March 1, 2004 to March 2008. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Cohen was the Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group’s Island Def Jam Music Group. Mr. Cohen served as President of Def Jam from 1988 to 2002. Previously, Mr. Cohen served in various capacities at Rush Management, a hip-hop management company, which he founded with partner Russell Simmons. Mr. Cohen is widely credited with expanding Island Def Jam beyond its hip-hop roots to include a wider range of musical genres.

Michael D. Fleisher, 45, has served as our Vice Chairman, Strategy and Operations, since September 2008. Previously Mr. Fleisher was our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since joining the company on January 1, 2005 to September 2008. Prior to joining Warner Music Group, Mr. Fleisher was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gartner, Inc. Mr. Fleisher joined Gartner in 1993 and served in several roles including Chief Financial Officer prior to being named CEO in 1999. Previous to Gartner, he was at Bain Capital. Mr. Fleisher holds a bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

David H. Johnson, 64, has served as the CEO of Warner/Chappell Music since December 2006. Mr. Johnson joined Warner Music Group in 1999. From 1999 to December 2006, Mr. Johnson held various positions with Warner Music Group, including Acting CEO of Warner/Chappell Music and Executive Vice President and General Counsel. Prior to joining Warner Music Group, Mr. Johnson spent nine years as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Sony Music Entertainment. He also held several posts at CBS and was an associate in the law firm Mayer, Nussbaum, Katz & Baker. Mr. Johnson received a B.A. in political science from Yale University, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and an L.L.M. from New York University School of Law.

Mark Ansorge, 47, has served as our Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Compliance Officer since August 2008. He was previously Warner Music Group’s Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel and has held various other positions within the legal department since joining the company in 1992. Since the company’s initial public offering in 2005, Mr. Ansorge has also served as Warner Music Group’s Chief Compliance Officer. Prior to joining Warner Music Group he practiced law as an associate at Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts (now known as Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP). Mr. Ansorge holds a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law.

Steven Macri, 42, has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since September 2008. Previously, Mr. Macri was our Senior Vice President and Controller since joining the company in February 2005. Prior to joining Warner Music Group, he held the position of Vice President Finance at Thomson Learning (now Cengage Learning), which was a division of The Thomson Corporation. From 1998 to 2004, Mr. Macri held various financial and business development positions at Gartner, Inc. including SVP, Business Planning and Operations and SVP, Controller. Before joining Gartner, he held various positions in the accounting and finance departments of consumer packaged goods company Reckitt Benckiser. Mr. Macri began his career at Price Waterhouse LLP where he last served as a manager. Mr. Macri holds a bachelor of science degree from Syracuse University and an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business.

Michael Nash, 53, has served as our Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy and Business Development since June 2008. He was previously Warner Music Group’s Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy and Business Development since February 1, 2000. Prior to joining Warner Music Group, Mr. Nash was Executive Director of the Madison Project, an industry-first secure digital music distribution trial (1999), CEO and founder of Inscape, an interactive entertainment and games publishing joint venture with Warner Music Group and HBO that won numerous product awards (1994 - 1997) and Director of the Criterion Collection, where he worked closely with directors and artists such as Robert Altman, David Bowie, Terry Gilliam, Louis Malle, Nicolas Roeg and John Singleton on numerous special edition laserdiscs, the forerunner of the DVD format (1991 - 1994).

 

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Paul M. Robinson, 52, has served as our Executive Vice President and General Counsel since December 2006. Mr. Robinson joined Warner Music Group’s legal department in 1995. From 1995 to December 2006, Mr. Robinson held various positions with Warner Music Group, including Acting General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel. Before joining Warner Music Group, Mr. Robinson was a partner in the New York City law firm Mayer, Katz, Baker, Leibowitz & Roberts. Mr. Robinson has a B.A. in English from Williams College and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.

Will Tanous, 41, has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer since May 2008. He was previously Warner Music Group’s Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and has held various positions at Warner Music Group since joining the company in 1993. Prior to joining Warner Music Group, Mr. Tanous held positions at Warner Music International and Geffen Records. He also served as president of two independent record labels. Mr. Tanous holds a B.A. from Georgetown University.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

We are required to file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Unless otherwise stated herein, these filings are not deemed to be incorporated by reference in this report. You may read and copy any documents filed by us at the Public Reference Section of the SEC, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. Our filings with the SEC are also available to the public through the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov. Our common stock is listed on the NYSE under the symbol “WMG”. You can inspect and copy reports, proxy statements and other information about us at the NYSE’s offices at 20 Broad Street, New York, New York 10005. We also maintain an Internet site at www.wmg.com. We use our website as a channel of distribution of material company information. Financial and other material information regarding Warner Music Group is routinely posted on and accessible at http://investors.wmg.com. In addition, you may automatically receive email alerts and other information about Warner Music Group by enrolling your email by visiting the “email alerts” section at http://investors.wmg.com. We make available on our Internet website free of charge our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports as soon as practicable after we electronically file such reports with the SEC. In addition, copies of our (i) Corporate Governance Guidelines, (ii) charters for the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee and Executive, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and (iii) Code of Conduct which is applicable for all or our employees including our principal executive, financial and accounting officers, are available at our Internet site under “Investor Relations—Corporate Governance.” Copies will be provided to any stockholder upon written request to Investor Relations, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 10019, via electronic mail at Investor.Relations@wmg.com or by contacting Investor Relations at (212) 275-2000. Our website and the information posted on it or connected to it shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into this report.

 

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

You should carefully consider the following risks and other information in this report before making an investment decision with respect to shares of our common stock or any of our other securities. The risks and uncertainties described below may not be the only ones facing us. Additional risks and uncertainties that we do not currently know about or that we currently believe are immaterial may also adversely impact our business operations. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations would likely suffer. In such case, the trading price of our common stock or other securities could fall, and you may lose all or part of the money you paid to buy such securities.

Risks Related to our Business

The recorded music industry has been declining and may continue to decline, which may adversely affect our prospects and our results of operations.

The industry began experiencing negative growth rates in 1999 on a global basis and the worldwide recorded music market has contracted considerably. Illegal downloading of music, CD-R piracy, industrial piracy, economic recession, bankruptcies of record wholesalers and retailers, and growing competition for consumer discretionary spending and retail shelf space may all be contributing to a declining recorded music industry. Additionally, the period of growth in recorded music sales driven by the introduction and penetration of the CD format has ended. While CD sales still generate most of the recorded music revenues, CD sales continue to decline industry-wide and we expect that trend to continue. However, new formats for selling recorded music product have been created, including the legal downloading of digital music and the distribution of music on mobile devices and revenue streams from these new channels have emerged. These new digital revenue streams are important as they are beginning to offset declines in physical sales and represent a growing area of our recorded music business. In addition, we are also taking steps to broaden our revenue mix into growing areas of the music business, including sponsorship, fan clubs, artist websites, merchandising, touring, ticketing and artist management. As our expansion into these new areas is recent, we cannot determine how our expansion into these new areas will impact our business. Despite the increase in digital sales, artist services revenues and expanded-rights revenues, revenues from these sources have yet to fully offset declining physical sales on a worldwide industry basis and it is too soon to determine the impact that sales of music through new channels might have on the industry or when the decline in physical sales might be offset by the increase in digital sales, artist services revenues and expanded-rights revenues. Accordingly, the recorded music industry performance may continue to negatively impact our operating results. While it is believed within the recorded music industry that growth in digital sales will re-establish a growth pattern for recorded music sales, the timing of the recovery cannot be established with accuracy nor can it be determined how these changes will affect individual markets. A declining recorded music industry is likely to lead to reduced levels of revenue and operating income generated by our Recorded Music business. Additionally, a declining recorded music industry is also likely to have a negative impact on our Music Publishing business, which generates a significant portion of its revenues from mechanical royalties attributable to the sale of music in CD and other physical recorded music formats.

There may be downward pressure on our pricing and our profit margins and reductions in shelf space.

There are a variety of factors that could cause us to reduce our prices and reduce our profit margins. They are, among others, price competition from the sale of motion pictures in Blu-Ray/DVD-Video format and videogames, the negotiating leverage of mass merchandisers, big-box retailers and distributors of digital music, the increased costs of doing business with mass merchandisers and big-box retailers as a result of complying with operating procedures that are unique to their needs and any changes in costs associated with new digital formats. In addition, we are currently dependent on a small number of leading online music stores, which allows them to significantly influence the prices we can charge in connection with the distribution of digital music. Over the course of the last decade, U.S. mass-market and other stores’ share of U.S physical music sales has continued to

 

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grow. While we cannot predict how future competition will impact music retailers, as the music industry continues to transform it is possible that the share of music sales by mass-market retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target and online music stores such as Apple’s iTunes will continue to grow as a result of the decline of specialty music retailers, which could further increase their negotiating leverage. Several large specialty music retailers, including Tower Records and Musicland, have filed for bankruptcy protection. The declining number of specialty music retailers may not only put pressure on profit margins, but could also impact catalog sales as mass-market retailers generally sell top chart albums only, with a limited range of back catalog. See “Risk Factors—We are substantially dependent on a limited number of online music stores, in particular Apple’s iTunes Music Store, for the online sale of our music recordings and they are able to significantly influence the pricing structure for online music stores.”

Our prospects and financial results may be adversely affected if we fail to identify, sign and retain artists and songwriters and by the existence or absence of superstar releases and by local economic conditions in the countries in which we operate.

We are dependent on identifying, signing and retaining recording artists with long-term potential, whose debut albums are well received on release, whose subsequent albums are anticipated by consumers and whose music will continue to generate sales as part of our catalog for years to come. The competition among record companies for such talent is intense. Competition among record companies to sell records is also intense and the marketing expenditures necessary to compete have increased as well. We are also dependent on signing and retaining songwriters who will write the hit songs of today and the classics of tomorrow. Our competitive position is dependent on our continuing ability to attract and develop artists whose work can achieve a high degree of public acceptance. Our financial results may be adversely affected if we are unable to identify, sign and retain such artists under terms that are economically attractive to us. Our financial results may also be affected by the existence or absence of superstar artist releases during a particular period. Some music industry observers believe that the number of superstar acts with long-term appeal, both in terms of catalog sales and future releases, has declined in recent years. Additionally, our financial results are generally affected by the worldwide economic and retail environment, as well as the appeal of our Recorded Music catalog and our Music Publishing library.

We may have difficulty addressing the threats to our business associated with home copying and Internet downloading.

The combined effect of the decreasing cost of electronic and computer equipment and related technology such as CD burners and the conversion of music into digital formats have made it easier for consumers to obtain and create unauthorized copies of our recordings in the form of, for example, “burned” CDs and MP3 files. For example, about 95% of the music downloaded in 2008, or more than 40 billion files, were illegal and not paid for, according to the IFPI 2009 Digital Music Report. IFPI also reported in its Recording Industry in Numbers 2010 publication that peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing accounts for more than 20% of Internet traffic globally. In addition, while growth of music-enabled mobile consumers offers distinct opportunities for music companies such as ours, it also opens the market up to certain risks from behaviors such as “sideloading” of unauthorized content and illegitimate user-created ringtones. A substantial portion of our revenue comes from the sale of audio products that are potentially subject to unauthorized consumer copying and widespread digital dissemination without an economic return to us. The impact of digital piracy on legitimate music sales is hard to quantify but we believe that illegal file-sharing has a substantial negative impact on music sales. We are working to control this problem in a variety of ways including further litigation, by lobbying governments for new, stronger copyright protection laws and more stringent enforcement of current laws, through graduated response programs achieved through cooperation with ISPs and legislation being advanced or considered in many countries, through technological measures and by establishing legitimate new media business models. We cannot give any assurances that such measures will be effective. If we fail to obtain appropriate relief through the judicial process or the complete enforcement of judicial decisions issued in our favor (or if judicial decisions are not in our favor), if we are unsuccessful in our efforts to lobby governments to enact and enforce stronger legal penalties for copyright infringement or if we fail to develop effective means of protecting our intellectual property

 

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(whether copyrights or other rights such as patents, trademarks and trade secrets) or our entertainment-related products or services, our results of operations, financial position and prospects may suffer.

Organized industrial piracy may lead to decreased sales.

The global organized commercial pirate trade is a significant threat to the music industry. The IIPA estimates that U.S. trade losses due to physical piracy of records and music in 39 key countries/territories around the world with copyright protection and/or enforcement deficiencies totaled $1.5 billion in 2009. Unauthorized copies and piracy have contributed to the decrease in the volume of legitimate sales and put pressure on the price of legitimate sales. They have had, and may continue to have, an adverse effect on our business.

Legitimate channels for digital distribution of our creative content are a recent development, and their impact on our business is unclear and may be adverse.

We have positioned ourselves to take advantage of online and mobile technology as a sales distribution channel and believe that the continued development of legitimate channels for digital music distribution holds promise for us in the future. Digital revenue streams of all kinds are important to offset continued declining revenue from physical CD sales industry-wide over time. However, legitimate channels for digital distribution are a recent development and we cannot predict their impact on our business. In digital formats, certain costs associated with physical products such as manufacturing, distribution, inventory and return costs do not apply. Partially eroding that benefit are increases in mechanical copyright royalties payable to music publishers that only apply in the digital space. While there are some digital-specific variable costs and infrastructure investments necessary to produce, market and sell music in digital formats, we believe it is reasonable to expect that we will generally derive a higher contribution margin from digital sales than physical sales. However, we cannot be sure that we will generally continue to achieve higher margins from digital sales. Any legitimate digital distribution channel that does develop may result in lower or less profitable sales for us than comparable physical sales. In addition, the transition to greater sales through digital channels introduces uncertainty regarding the potential impact of the “unbundling” of the album on our business. It remains unclear how consumer behavior will continue to change when customers are faced with more opportunities to purchase only favorite tracks from a given album rather than the entire album. In addition, if piracy continues unabated and legitimate digital distribution channels fail to gain consumer acceptance, our results of operations could be harmed. Furthermore, as new distribution channels continue to develop, we may have to implement systems to process royalties on new revenue streams for potential future distribution channels that are not currently known. These new distribution channels could also result in increases in the number of transactions that we need to process. If we are not able to successfully expand our processing capability or introduce technology to allow us to determine and pay royalty amounts due on these new types of transactions in a timely manner, we may experience processing delays or reduced accuracy as we increase the volume of our digital sales, which could have a negative effect on our relationships with artists and brand identity.

We are substantially dependent on a limited number of online music stores, in particular Apple’s iTunes Music Store, for the online sale of our music recordings and they are able to significantly influence the pricing structure for online music stores.

We derive an increasing portion of our revenues from sales of music through digital distribution channels. We are currently dependent on a small number of leading online music stores that sell consumers digital music. Currently, the largest U.S. online music store, iTunes, charges U.S. consumers prices ranging from $0.69 to $1.29 per single-track download. We have limited ability to increase our wholesale prices to digital service providers for digital downloads as we believe Apple’s iTunes controls more than two-thirds of the legitimate digital music track download business in the U.S. If iTunes were to adopt a lower pricing model or if there were structural change to other download pricing models, we may receive substantially less per download for our music, which could cause a material reduction in our revenues, unless it is offset by a corresponding increase in the number of downloads. Additionally, Apple’s iTunes and other online music stores at present accept and make

 

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available for sale all the recordings that we and other distributors deliver to them. However, if online stores in the future decide to limit the types or amount of music they will accept from music content owners like us, our revenues could be significantly reduced.

Our involvement in intellectual property litigation could adversely affect our business.

Our business is highly dependent upon intellectual property, an area that has encountered increased litigation in recent years. If we are alleged to infringe the intellectual property rights of a third party, any litigation to defend the claim could be costly and would divert the time and resources of management, regardless of the merits of the claim. There can be no assurance that we would prevail in any such litigation. If we were to lose a litigation relating to intellectual property, we could be forced to pay monetary damages and to cease the sale of certain products or the use of certain technology. Any of the foregoing may adversely affect our business.

Due to the nature of our business, our results of operations and cash flows may fluctuate significantly from period to period.

Our net sales, operating income and profitability, like those of other companies in the music business, are largely affected by the number and quality of albums that we release or that include musical compositions published by us, timing of our release schedule and, more importantly, the consumer demand for these releases. We also make advance payments to recording artists and songwriters, which impact our operating cash flows. The timing of album releases and advance payments is largely based on business and other considerations and is made without regard to the impact of the timing of the release on our financial results. We report results of operations quarterly and our results of operations and cash flows in any reporting period may be materially affected by the timing of releases and advance payments, which may result in significant fluctuations from period to period.

We may be unable to compete successfully in the highly competitive markets in which we operate and we may suffer reduced profits as a result.

The industry in which we operate is highly competitive, is based on consumer preferences and is rapidly changing. Additionally, the music industry requires substantial human and capital resources. We compete with other recorded music companies and music publishers to identify and sign new recording artists and songwriters who subsequently achieve long-term success and to renew agreements with established artists and songwriters. In addition, our competitors may from time to time reduce their prices in an effort to expand market share and introduce new services, or improve the quality of their products or services. We may lose business if we are unable to sign successful recording artists or songwriters or to match the prices or the quality of products and services, offered by our competitors. Our Recorded Music business competes not only with other recorded music companies, but also with the recorded music efforts of live events companies and artists who may chose to distribute their own works. Our Music Publishing business competes not only with other music publishing companies, but also with songwriters who publish their own works. Our Recorded Music business is to a large extent dependent on technological developments, including access to and selection and viability of new technologies, and is subject to potential pressure from competitors as a result of their technological developments. For example, our Recorded Music business may be further adversely affected by technological developments that facilitate the piracy of music, such as Internet peer-to-peer file-sharing and CD-R activity, by an inability to enforce our intellectual property rights in digital environments and by a failure to develop successful business models applicable to a digital environment. The Recorded Music business also faces competition from other forms of entertainment and leisure activities, such as cable and satellite television, pre-recorded films on videocassettes and DVD, the Internet and computer and videogames.

Our business operations in some countries subject us to trends, developments or other events in foreign countries which may affect us adversely.

We are a global company with strong local presences, which have become increasingly important as the popularity of music originating from a country’s own language and culture has increased in recent years. Our mix

 

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of national and international recording artists and songwriters provides a significant degree of diversification for our music portfolio. However, our creative content does not necessarily enjoy universal appeal. As a result, our results can be affected not only by general industry trends, but also by trends, developments or other events in individual countries, including:

 

   

limited legal protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;

 

   

restrictions on the repatriation of capital;

 

   

fluctuations in interest and foreign exchange rates;

 

   

differences and unexpected changes in regulatory environment, including environmental, health and safety, local planning, zoning and labor laws, rules and regulations;

 

   

varying tax regimes which could adversely affect our results of operations or cash flows, including regulations relating to transfer pricing and withholding taxes on remittances and other payments by subsidiaries and joint ventures;

 

   

exposure to different legal standards and enforcement mechanisms and the associated cost of compliance;

 

   

difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified management and employees or rationalizing our workforce;

 

   

tariffs, duties, export controls and other trade barriers;

 

   

longer accounts receivable settlement cycles and difficulties in collecting accounts receivable;

 

   

recessionary trends, inflation and instability of the financial markets;

 

   

higher interest rates; and

 

   

political instability.

We may not be able to insure or hedge against these risks, and we may not be able to ensure compliance with all of the applicable regulations without incurring additional costs. Furthermore, financing may not be available in countries with less than investment-grade sovereign credit ratings. As a result, it may be difficult to create or maintain profit-making operations in developing countries.

In addition, our results can be affected by trends, developments and other events in individual countries. There can be no assurance that in the future other country-specific trends, developments or other events will not have such a significant adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition. Unfavorable conditions can depress sales in any given market and prompt promotional or other actions that affect our margins.

Our business may be adversely affected by competitive market conditions and we may not be able to execute our business strategy.

We intend to increase revenues and cash flow through a business strategy which requires us, among other things, to continue to maximize the value of our music assets, to significantly reduce costs to maximize flexibility and adjust to new realities of the market, to continue to act to contain digital piracy and to diversify our revenue streams into growing segments of the music business by entering into expanded-rights deals with recording artists and by operating our artist services businesses and to capitalize on digital distribution and emerging technologies.

Each of these initiatives requires sustained management focus, organization and coordination over significant periods of time. Each of these initiatives also requires success in building relationships with third

 

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parties and in anticipating and keeping up with technological developments and consumer preferences and may involve the implementation of new business models or distribution platforms. The results of our strategy and the success of our implementation of this strategy will not be known for some time in the future. If we are unable to implement our strategy successfully or properly react to changes in market conditions, our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be adversely affected.

Our ability to operate effectively could be impaired if we fail to attract and retain our executive officers.

Our success depends, in part, upon the continuing contributions of our executive officers many of whom have been with us since our acquisition from Time Warner in 2004. Although we have employment agreements with our executive officers, there is no guarantee that they will not leave. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers or the failure to attract other executive officers could have a material adverse effect on our business or our business prospects.

A significant portion of our Music Publishing revenues is subject to rate regulation either by government entities or by local third-party collection societies throughout the world and rates on other income streams may be set by arbitration proceedings, which may limit our profitability.

Mechanical royalties and performance royalties are the two largest sources of income to our Music Publishing business and mechanical royalties are a significant expense to our Recorded Music business. In the U.S., mechanical rates are set pursuant to an arbitration process under the U.S. Copyright Act unless rates are determined through voluntary industry negotiations and performance rates are set by performing rights societies and subject to challenge by performing rights licensees. Outside the U.S., mechanical and performance rates are typically negotiated on an industry-wide basis. The mechanical and performance rates set pursuant to such processes may adversely affect us by limiting our ability to increase the profitability of our Music Publishing business. If the mechanical rates are set too high it may also adversely affect us by limiting our ability to increase the profitability of our Recorded Music business. In addition, rates our Recorded Music business receives in the U.S. for, among other sources of income and potential income, webcasting and satellite radio are set by an arbitration process under the U.S. Copyright Act unless rates are determined through voluntary industry negotiations. It is important as sales shift from physical to diversified distribution channels that we receive fair value for all of the uses of our intellectual property as our business model now depends upon multiple revenue streams from multiple sources. If the rates for Recorded Music income sources that are established through legally prescribed rate-setting processes are set too low, it could have a material adverse impact on our Recorded Music business or our business prospects.

An impairment in the carrying value of goodwill or other intangible and long-lived assets could negatively affect our operating results and shareholders’ equity.

On September 30, 2010, we had $1.057 billion of goodwill and $100 million of indefinite-lived intangible assets. Financial Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 350, Intangibles—Goodwill and other (“ASC 350”) requires that we test these assets for impairment annually (or more frequently should indications of impairment arise) by estimating the fair value of each of our reporting units (calculated using a discounted cash flow method) and comparing that value to the reporting units’ carrying value. If the carrying value exceeds the fair value, there is a potential impairment and additional testing must be performed. In performing our annual tests and determining whether indications of impairment exist, we consider numerous factors including actual and projected operating results of each reporting unit, external market factors such as market prices for similar assets, the market capitalization of our stock, and trends in the music industry. We tested our goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 and concluded that such assets were not impaired. We continue to believe that conclusion is appropriate. However, future events may occur that could adversely affect the estimated fair value of our reporting units. Such events may include, but are not limited to, strategic decisions made in response to changes in economic and competitive conditions and the impact of the economic environment on our operating results. Failure to achieve sufficient levels of cash flow at

 

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our reporting units could also result in impairment charges on goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets. If the value of the acquired goodwill or acquired indefinite-lived intangible assets is impaired, our operating results and shareholders’ deficit could be adversely affected.

We also had $1.119 billion of definite-lived intangible assets at September 30, 2010. FASB ASC Topic 360-10-35, (“ASC 360-10-35”) requires companies to review these assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amounts may not be recoverable. If similar events occur as enumerated above such that we believe indicators of impairment are present, we would test for recoverability by comparing the carrying value of the asset to the net undiscounted cash flows expected to be generated from the asset. If those net undiscounted cash flows do not exceed the carrying amount, we would perform the next step, which is to determine the fair value of the asset, which could result in an impairment charge. Any impairment charge recorded would negatively affect our operating results and shareholders’ deficit.

Unfavorable currency exchange rate fluctuations could adversely affect our results of operations.

The reporting currency for our financial statements is the U.S. dollar. We have substantial assets, liabilities, revenues and costs denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars. To prepare our consolidated financial statements, we must translate those assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses into U.S. dollars at then-applicable exchange rates. Consequently, increases and decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies will affect the amount of these items in our consolidated financial statements, even if their value has not changed in their original currency. These translations could result in significant changes to our results of operations from period to period. Prior to intersegment eliminations, approximately 58% of our revenues related to operations in foreign territories for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. From time to time, we enter into foreign exchange contracts to hedge the risk of unfavorable foreign currency exchange rate movements. As of September 30, 2010, we have hedged a portion of our material foreign currency exposures related to royalty payments remitted between our foreign affiliates and our U.S. affiliates for the next fiscal year.

We may not have full control and ability to direct the operations we conduct through joint ventures.

We currently have interests in a number of joint ventures and may in the future enter into further joint ventures as a means of conducting our business. In addition, we structure certain of our relationships with recording artists and songwriters as joint ventures. We may not be able to fully control the operations and the assets of our joint ventures, and we may not be able to make major decisions or may not be able to take timely actions with respect to our joint ventures unless our joint venture partners agree.

The enactment of legislation limiting the terms by which an individual can be bound under a “personal services” contract could impair our ability to retain the services of key artists.

California Labor Code Section 2855 (“Section 2855”) limits the duration of time any individual can be bound under a contract for “personal services” to a maximum of seven years. In 1987, Subsection (b) was added, which provides a limited exception to Section 2855 for recording contracts, creating a damages remedy for record companies. Legislation was introduced in New York in 2009 to create a statute similar to Section 2855 to limit contracts between artists and record companies to a term of seven years which term may be reduced to three years if the artist was not represented in the negotiation and execution of such contracts by qualified counsel experienced with entertainment industry law and practices, potentially affecting the duration of artist contracts. There is no assurance that California will not introduce legislation in the future seeking to repeal Subsection (b). The repeal of Subsection (b) of Section 2855 and/or the passage of legislation similar to Section 2855 by other states could materially affect our results of operations and financial position.

We face a potential loss of catalog if it is determined that recording artists have a right to recapture rights in their recordings under the U.S. Copyright Act.

The U.S. Copyright Act provides authors (or their heirs) a right to terminate U.S. licenses or assignments of rights in their copyrighted works. This right does not apply to works that are “works made for hire.” Since the

 

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effective date of U.S. copyright liability for sound recordings (February 15, 1972), virtually all of our agreements with recording artists provide that such recording artists render services under an employment-for-hire relationship. A termination right exists under the U.S. Copyright Act for U.S. rights in musical compositions that are not “works made for hire.” If any of our commercially available sound recordings were determined not to be “works made for hire,” then the recording artists (or their heirs) could have the right to terminate the U.S. rights they granted to us, generally during a five-year period starting at the end of 35 years from the date of a post-1977 license or assignment (or, in the case of a pre-1978 grant in a pre-1978 recording, generally during a five-year period starting either at the end of 56 years from the date of copyright or on January 1, 1978, whichever is later). A termination of U.S. rights could have an adverse effect on our Recorded Music business. From time to time, authors (or their heirs) can terminate our U.S. rights in musical compositions. However, we believe the effect of those terminations is already reflected in the financial results of our Music Publishing business.

If we acquire or invest in other businesses, we will face certain risks inherent in such transactions.

We may acquire, make investments in, or enter into strategic alliances or joint ventures with, companies engaged in businesses that are similar or complementary to ours. If we make such acquisitions or investments or enter into strategic alliances, we will face certain risks inherent in such transactions. For example, gaining regulatory approval for significant acquisitions or investments could be a lengthy process and there can be no assurance of a successful outcome and we could increase our leverage in connection with acquisitions or investments. We could face difficulties in managing and integrating newly acquired operations. Additionally, such transactions would divert management resources and may result in the loss of recording artists or songwriters from our rosters. If we invest in companies involved in new businesses or develop our own new business opportunities, we will need to integrate and effectively manage these new businesses before any new line of business can become successful, and as such the progress and success of any new business is uncertain. In addition, investments in new business may result in an increase in capital expenditures to build infrastructure to support our new initiatives. We cannot assure you that if we make any future acquisitions, investments, strategic alliances or joint ventures that they will be completed in a timely manner, that they will be structured or financed in a way that will enhance our credit-worthiness or that they will meet our strategic objectives or otherwise be successful. We also may not be successful in implementing appropriate operational, financial and management systems and controls to achieve the benefits expected to result from these transactions. Failure to effectively manage any of these transactions could result in material increases in costs or reductions in expected revenues, or both. In addition, if any new business in which we invest or which we attempt to develop does not progress as planned, we may not recover the funds and resources we have expended and this could have a negative impact on our businesses or our company as a whole.

We have engaged in substantial restructuring activities in the past, and may need to implement further restructurings in the future and our restructuring efforts may not be successful or generate expected cost savings.

The recorded music industry continues to undergo substantial change. These changes continue to have a substantial impact on our business. See “The recorded music industry has been declining and may continue to decline, which may adversely affect our prospects and our results of operations.” Following the Acquisition, we implemented a broad restructuring plan in order to adapt our cost structure to the changing economics of the music industry. We continue to shift resources from our physical sales channels to efforts focused on digital distribution, emerging technologies and other new revenue streams. In addition, in order to help mitigate the effects of the recorded music transition, we continue our efforts to reduce overhead and manage our variable and fixed cost structure to minimize any impact.

We cannot be certain that we will not be required to implement further restructuring activities, make additions or other changes to our management or workforce based on other cost reduction measures or changes in the markets and industry in which we compete. Our inability to structure our operations based on evolving market conditions could impact our business. Restructuring activities can create unanticipated consequences and negative impacts on the business, and we cannot be sure that any future restructuring efforts will be successful or generate expected cost savings.

 

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We are outsourcing our information technology infrastructure and certain finance and accounting functions and may outsource other back-office functions, which will make us more dependent upon third parties.

In an effort to make our information technology, or IT, more efficient and increase our IT capabilities and reduce potential disruptions, as well as generate cost savings, we signed a contract during the first quarter of fiscal 2009 with a third-party service provider to outsource a significant portion of our IT infrastructure functions. This outsourcing initiative is a component of our ongoing strategy to monitor our costs and to seek additional cost savings. We incurred both transition costs and one-time employee termination costs during fiscal 2009 associated with this outsourcing initiative. As a result, we rely on third parties to ensure that our IT needs are sufficiently met. This reliance subjects us to risks arising from the loss of control over IT processes, changes in pricing that may affect our operating results, and potentially, termination of provisions of these services by our supplier. In addition, in an effort to make our finance and accounting functions more efficient, as well as generate cost savings, we signed a contract during the third quarter of fiscal 2009 with a third-party service provider to outsource certain finance and accounting functions. A failure of our service providers to perform may have a significant adverse effect on our business. We may outsource other back-office functions in the future, which would increase our reliance on third parties.

Changes to our information technology infrastructure to harmonize our systems and processes may fail to operate as designed and intended.

We regularly implement business process improvement initiatives to harmonize our systems and processes and to optimize our performance. Our current business process initiatives include, but are not limited to, the delivery of a SAP enterprise resource planning application in the U.S. for fiscal 2011. While we will experience changes in internal controls over financial reporting in fiscal 2011 as the implementation occurs, we expect to be able to transition to the new processes and controls with no negative impact to our internal control environment. If we fail to effectively implement the SAP application or if the SAP application fails to operate as designed and intended, it may impact our ability to process transactions accurately and efficiently.

We are controlled by entities that may have conflicts of interest with us.

THL, Bain Capital and Providence Equity (collectively, the “Current Investor Group”) control a majority of our common stock on a fully diluted basis. In addition, representatives of the Current Investor Group occupy substantially all of the seats on our Board of Directors and pursuant to a stockholders agreement, have the right to appoint all of the independent directors to our board. As a result, the Current Investor Group has the ability to control our policies and operations, including the appointment of management, the entering into of mergers, acquisitions, sales of assets, divestitures and other extraordinary transactions, future issuances of our common stock or other securities, the payments of dividends, if any, on our common stock, the incurrence of debt by us and the amendment of our certificate of incorporation and Bylaws. The Current Investor Group has the ability to prevent any transaction that requires the approval of our Board of Directors or the stockholders regardless of whether or not other members of our Board of Directors or stockholders believe that any such transaction is in their own best interests. For example, the Current Investor Group could cause us to make acquisitions that increase our indebtedness or to sell revenue-generating assets. Additionally, the Current Investor Group is in the business of making investments in companies and may from time to time acquire and hold interests in businesses that compete directly or indirectly with us. The Current Investor Group may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. So long as the Current Investor Group continues to hold a majority of our outstanding common stock, they will be entitled to nominate a majority of our Board of Directors, and will have the ability to effectively control the vote in any election of directors. In addition, so long as the Current Investor Group continues to own a significant amount of our equity, even if such amount is less than 50%, they will continue to be able to strongly influence or effectively control our decisions.

 

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Our reliance on one company as the primary supplier for the manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution of our products in the U.S. and Canada and part of Europe could have an adverse impact on our ability to meet our manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution requirements.

We have recently renewed our agreements with Cinram. On November 16, 2010, we entered into a series of new agreements with Cinram and its affiliates including an agreement with Cinram Manufacturing LLC (formerly Cinram Manufacturing Inc.), Cinram Distribution LLC and Cinram International Inc. for the United States and Canada and an agreement with Cinram International Inc., Cinram GmbH and Cinram Operations UK Limited for certain territories within the European Union. Both new agreements now expire on January 31, 2014. The terms of the new agreements remain substantially the same as the terms of the original 2003 agreements, as amended, but now provide us with the option to use third-party vendors for up to a certain percentage of the previous year’s volume provided by Cinram (and up to a higher percentage upon the occurrence of certain events). In addition, we have expanded termination rights. As Cinram continues to be our primary supplier of manufacturing and distribution services in the U.S., Canada and part of Europe, our continued ability to meet our manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution requirements in those territories depends largely on Cinram’s continued successful operation in accordance with the service level requirements mandated by us in our service agreements. If, for any reason, Cinram were to fail to meet contractually required service levels, or was unable to otherwise continue to provide services, we may have difficulty satisfying our commitments to our wholesale and retail customers in the short term until we more fully transitioned to an alternate provider, which could have an adverse impact on our revenues. Any inability of Cinram to continue to provide services due to financial distress, refinancing issues or otherwise could also require us to switch to substitute suppliers of these services for more services than currently planned. Even though our agreements with Cinram give us a right to terminate based upon failure to meet mandated service levels and now also permit us to use third-party vendors for a portion of our service requirements, and there are several capable substitute suppliers, it might be costly for us to switch to substitute suppliers for any such services, particularly in the short term, and the delay and transition time associated with finding substitute suppliers could also have an adverse impact on our revenues.

We may be materially and adversely affected by the formation of Live Nation Entertainment.

On February 10, 2009, Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment announced a proposed merger to form Live Nation Entertainment. The Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger attracted intense scrutiny and was reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice, several State Attorneys General (including New York, California, Illinois, Florida and Massachusetts) and the U.K., where it was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for a more detailed investigation. The proposed merger would combine the world’s largest online ticketing, concert promotion and management companies including Front Line Management. The combined entity would control venues, ticketing and ancillary revenues derived from concerts, and in some cases would act as a record label as part of the expanded-rights deals Live Nation has signed with several artists. On January 25, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared the merger but required the companies to make several concessions as a condition of their approval. We cannot predict what impact Live Nation Entertainment might have on us.

Risks Related to our Leverage

Our substantial leverage on a consolidated basis could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry and prevent us from meeting our obligations under our indebtedness.

We are highly leveraged. As of September 30, 2010, our total consolidated indebtedness was $1.945 billion.

 

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Our high degree of leverage could have important consequences for our investors, including:

 

   

making it more difficult for us and our subsidiaries to make payments on indebtedness;

 

   

increasing our vulnerability to general economic and industry conditions;

 

   

requiring a substantial portion of cash flow from operations to be dedicated to the payment of principal and interest on indebtedness, therefore reducing our ability to use our cash flow to fund our operations, capital expenditures and future business opportunities;

 

   

limiting our ability and the ability of our subsidiaries to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, product development, debt service requirements, acquisitions and general corporate or other purposes; and

 

   

limiting our ability to adjust to changing market conditions and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who are less highly leveraged.

We and our subsidiaries may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in the future, subject to the restrictions contained in our indentures relating to our outstanding notes. If new indebtedness is added to our current debt levels, the related risks that we and our subsidiaries now face could intensify.

We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness, and may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful.

Our ability to make scheduled payments on or to refinance our debt obligations depends on our financial condition and operating performance, which is subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control. We may not maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness.

While we currently have sufficient cash to make scheduled interest payments, in the future WMG Holdings Corp. (“Holdings”), our immediate subsidiary, also may rely on our indirect subsidiary WMG Acquisition Corp. (“Acquisition Corp.”) and its subsidiaries to make payments on its borrowings. If Acquisition Corp. does not dividend funds to Holdings in an amount sufficient to make such payments, if necessary in the future, Holdings may default under the indenture governing its borrowings, which would result in all such notes becoming due and payable. Because Acquisition Corp.’s debt agreements have covenants that limit its ability to make payments to Holdings, Holdings may not have access to funds in an amount sufficient to service its indebtedness.

Our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business.

The indentures governing our outstanding notes contain various covenants that limit our ability to engage in specified types of transactions. These covenants limit our ability, Holdings’ ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to, among other things:

 

   

incur additional indebtedness or issue certain preferred shares;

 

   

pay dividends on or make distributions in respect of our common stock or make other restricted payments;

 

   

make certain investments;

 

   

sell certain assets;

 

   

create liens on certain indebtedness without in certain cases securing the applicable indebtedness;

 

   

consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of our assets;

 

   

enter into certain transactions with our affiliates; and

 

   

designate our subsidiaries as unrestricted subsidiaries.

 

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All of these restrictions could affect our ability to operate our business or may limit our ability to take advantage of potential business opportunities as they arise.

If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay investments in recording artists and songwriters, capital expenditures or dividends, or to sell assets, seek additional capital or restructure or refinance our indebtedness. These alternative measures may not be successful and may not permit us to meet our scheduled debt service obligations. In the absence of such operating results and resources, we could face substantial liquidity problems and might be required to dispose of material assets or operations to meet our debt service and other obligations. The indentures governing our outstanding notes restrict our ability to dispose of assets and use the proceeds from dispositions. We may not be able to consummate those dispositions or to obtain the proceeds which we could realize from them and these proceeds may not be adequate to meet any debt service obligations then due.

A reduction in our credit ratings could impact our cost of capital.

Although reductions in our debt ratings may not have an immediate impact on the cost of debt or our liquidity, they may impact the cost of debt and liquidity over the medium term and future access at a reasonable rate to the debt markets may be adversely impacted.

Risks Related to our Common Stock

We are a “controlled company” within the meaning of the New York Stock Exchange rules and, as a result, qualify for, and rely on, exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements.

The Current Investor Group controls a majority of our outstanding common stock. As a result, we are a “controlled company” within the meaning of the NYSE corporate governance standards. Under the NYSE rules, a company of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, a group, or another company is a “controlled company” and may elect not to comply with certain NYSE corporate governance requirements, as applicable, including (1) the requirement that a majority of the Board of Directors consist of independent directors, (2) the requirement that we have a nominating/corporate governance committee that is composed entirely of independent directors with a written charter addressing the committee’s purpose and responsibilities, (3) the requirement that we have a compensation committee that is composed entirely of independent directors with a written charter addressing the committee’s purpose and responsibilities and (4) the requirement that we perform an annual performance evaluation of the nominating/corporate governance committee and compensation committee. We are utilizing and intend to continue to utilize these exemptions while we are a controlled company. As a result, we will not have a majority of independent directors and neither our nominating and corporate governance committee, which also serves as our executive committee, nor our compensation committee will consist entirely of independent directors. While our executive, governance and nominating committee and compensation committee have charters that comply with NYSE requirements, we are not required to maintain those charters. Accordingly, you will not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.

Future sales of our shares could depress the market price of our common stock.

The market price of our common stock could decline as a result of sales of a large number of shares of common stock in the market or the perception that such sales could occur. These sales, or the possibility that these sales may occur, also might make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate. As of September 30, 2010, we had approximately 155 million shares of common stock outstanding. Approximately 93.3 million shares are held by the Current Investor Group and are eligible for resale from time to time, subject to contractual and Securities Act restrictions. The Current Investor Group has the ability to cause us to register the resale of their shares and certain other holders of our common stock, including members of our management and certain other parties that have piggyback registration rights,

 

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will be able to participate in such registration. In addition, in 2005, we registered approximately 8.3 million shares of restricted common stock and approximately 8.4 million shares underlying options issued and securities that may be issued in the future pursuant to our benefit plans and arrangements on registration statements on Form S-8. Shares registered on these registration statements on Form S-8 may be sold as provided in the respective registration statements on Form S-8. In April 2008, we registered an additional 16.5 million shares underlying options issued, and securities that might be issued in the future pursuant to our benefit plans and arrangements, on an additional Form S-8.

The market price of our common stock may be volatile, which could cause the value of your investment to decline.

Securities markets worldwide experience significant price and volume fluctuations. This market volatility, as well as general economic, market or potential conditions, could reduce the market price of our common stock in spite of our operating performance. In addition, our operating results could be below the expectations of securities analysts and investors, and in response, the market price of our common stock could decrease significantly. As a result, the market price of our common stock could decline below the price at which you purchase it. You may be unable to resell your shares of our common stock at or above such price. Among the other factors that could affect our stock price are:

 

   

actual or anticipated variations in operating results;

 

   

changes in dividend policy or our intentions to deploy our capital, including any decisions to repurchase our debt or common stock;

 

   

changes in financial estimates or investment recommendations by research analysts;

 

   

actual or anticipated changes in economic, political or market conditions, such as recessions or international currency fluctuations;

 

   

actual or anticipated changes in the regulatory environment affecting the music industry;

 

   

changes in the retailing environment;

 

   

changes in the market valuations of other content on media companies or diversified media companies that are also engaged in some of the business in which we are engaged that may be deemed our peers; and

 

   

announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, divestitures, joint ventures or other strategic initiatives.

See “Risk Factors—Due to the nature of our business, our results of operations and cash flows may fluctuate significantly from period to period.” In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, stockholders have often instituted class action securities litigation against those companies. Such litigation, if instituted, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management attention and resources, which could significantly harm our profitability and reputation.

Provisions in our Charter and amended and restated bylaws and Delaware law may discourage a takeover attempt.

Provisions contained in our Charter and amended and restated bylaws (“Bylaws”) and Delaware law could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so might be beneficial to our stockholders. Provisions of our Charter and Bylaws impose various procedural and other requirements, which could make it more difficult for shareholders to effect certain corporate actions. For example, our Charter authorizes our Board of Directors to issue up to 100,000,000 preferred shares and determine the rights including vesting rights, preferences, privileges, qualifications, limitations, and restrictions of unissued series of preferred stock, without any vote or action by our shareholders. Thus, our Board of Directors can authorize and issue shares of preferred

 

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stock with voting or conversion rights that could adversely affect the voting or other rights of holders of our common stock. These rights may have the effect of delaying or deterring a change of control of our company. These provisions could limit the price that certain investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock.

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

 

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

We own studio and office facilities and also lease certain facilities in the ordinary course of business. Our executive offices are located at 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019. We have a ten-year lease ending on July 31, 2014 for our headquarters at 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 10019. We also have a long-term lease ending on December 31, 2019, for office space in a building located at 3400 West Olive Avenue, Burbank, California 91505, used primarily by our Recorded Music business, and another lease ending on June 30, 2012 for office space at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10104, used primarily by our Recorded Music business. We also have a five-year lease ending on April 30, 2013 for office space at 10585 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90025, used primarily by our Music Publishing business. We consider our properties adequate for our current needs.

 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

Litigation

Pricing of Digital Music Downloads

On December 20, 2005 and February 3, 2006, the Attorney General of the State of New York served us with requests for information in connection with an industry-wide investigation as to whether the practices of industry participants concerning the pricing of digital music downloads violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act, New York State General Business Law §§ 340 et seq., New York Executive Law §63(12), and related statutes. On February 28, 2006, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice served us with a request for information in the form of a Civil Investigative Demand as to whether its activities relating to the pricing of digitally downloaded music violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Both investigations have now been closed. Subsequent to the announcements of the above governmental investigations, more than thirty putative class action lawsuits concerning the pricing of digital music downloads were filed and were later consolidated for pre-trial proceedings in the Southern District of New York. The consolidated amended complaint, filed on April 13, 2007, alleges conspiracy among record companies to delay the release of their content for digital distribution, inflate their pricing of CDs and fix prices for digital downloads. The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory, statutory and treble damages. All defendants, including us, filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated amended complaint on July 30, 2007. On October 9, 2008, the District Court issued an order dismissing the case as to all defendants, including us. On November 20, 2008, plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal from the order of the District Court to the Circuit Court for the Second Circuit. Oral argument took place before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on September 21, 2009. On January 12, 2010, the Second Circuit vacated the judgment of the District Court and remanded the case for further proceedings. On January 27, 2010, all defendants, including us, filed a petition for rehearing en banc with the Second Circuit. On March 26, 2010, the Second Circuit denied the petition for rehearing en banc. On August 20, 2010, all defendants including us, filed a petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court. Opposition to the petition is due on November 22, 2010. We intend to defend against these lawsuits vigorously, but are unable to predict the outcome of these suits. Any litigation we may become involved in as a result of the inquiries of the Attorney General of the State of New York and the Department of Justice, regardless of the merits of the claim, could be costly and divert the time and resources of management.

 

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Other Matters

In addition to the matter discussed above, we are is involved in other litigation arising in the normal course of business. Management does not believe that any legal proceedings pending against us will have, individually, or in the aggregate, a material adverse effect on its business. However, we cannot predict with certainty the outcome of any litigation or the potential for future litigation. Regardless of the outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on our company, including our brand value, because of defense costs, diversion of management resources and other factors.

 

ITEM 4. (REMOVED AND RESERVED)

 

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PART II

 

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Warner Music Group Corp.’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “WMG.” The following table presents the high and low closing prices for the common stock on the New York Stock Exchange during the periods indicated and the dividends declared during such periods:

 

     High      Low      Dividends
Paid
 

2009:

        

First Quarter

   $ 7.37       $ 2.36         —     

Second Quarter

   $ 3.47       $ 1.68         —     

Third Quarter

   $ 7.74       $ 2.55         —     

Fourth Quarter

   $ 6.02       $ 3.90         —     

2010:

        

First Quarter

   $ 7.15       $ 5.01         —     

Second Quarter

   $ 7.08       $ 4.77         —     

Third Quarter

   $ 8.01       $ 4.73         —     

Fourth Quarter

   $ 5.01       $ 4.17         —     

As of September 30, 2010 there were 46 registered holders of record of our common stock. Because many of our shares of common stock are held by brokers and other institutions on behalf of stockholders, we are unable to estimate the total number of stockholders represented by these record holders. We believe there are more than 5,000 beneficial holders of our common stock. The closing price of the common stock on the New York Stock Exchange on November 15, 2010, was $5.69.

Repurchases of Equity Securities During 2010

The following table provides information about purchases by us during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 of equity securities that are registered by us pursuant to Section 12 of the Securities Act:

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Period

   Total Number of
Shares Purchased
    Average Price
Paid per Share
     Total Number of
Shares Purchased as
Part of Publicly
Announced
Plans or Programs
     Maximum Number
of Shares that
May
Yet Be Purchased
Under the
Plans or Programs
 

9/1/10-9/30/10

     6,375 (1)    $ 4.99         —           —     
                

Total

     6,375      $ 4.99         —           —     
                

 

(1) Reflects shares of common stock withheld from restricted stock that vested during fiscal year 2010 that were surrendered to the Company to satisfy withholding tax requirements related to the vesting of the awards. The value of these shares was determined based on the closing price of our common stock on the date of vesting.

Sales of Unregistered Securities During the Fourth Quarter of Fiscal 2010

None.

 

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Dividend Policy

We have discontinued our previous policy of paying a regular quarterly dividend. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on, among other things, our results of operations, cash requirements, financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors our Board of Directors may deem relevant.

The amounts available to us to pay any future cash dividends will be restricted by the indentures governing our outstanding notes, including the indenture governing the outstanding 9.5% Senior Discount Notes due 2014 of Holdings, the indenture governing Acquisition Corp’s 9.5% Senior Secured Notes due 2016 and the indenture governing Acquisition Corp.’s 7.375% Senior Subordinated Dollar Notes due 2014 and 8.125% Senior Subordinated Sterling Notes due 2014. The indentures governing the Holdings Senior Discount Notes and the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes and Senior Subordinated Notes limit the ability of Holdings, Acquisition Corp. and their subsidiaries to pay dividends to us. However, the indenture governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes allows distributions not in excess of $90 million in any fiscal year, which could be applied to pay regular quarterly cash dividends to holders of our common stock. In addition, under such indentures, generally our subsidiaries may pay dividends or make other restricted payments depending on a formula based on 50% of consolidated net income as defined in our indentures. Furthermore, Acquisition Corp. and Holdings may also make restricted payments of up to $50 million under the indenture governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes, $45 million under the indenture governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes and $75 million under the indenture governing the Holdings Senior Discount Notes without regard to any such provisions. The Holdings indenture also permits Holdings to dividend up to 6% per annum from proceeds of our initial public offering, which was subsequently invested as a capital contribution to Holdings. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Financial Condition and Liquidity—Liquidity.”

 

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ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

Our summary balance sheet data as of September 30, 2010 and 2009, and the statement of operations and other data for each of fiscal years ended September 30, 2010, 2009 and 2008 have been derived from our audited financial statements included in this annual report on Form 10-K. Our summary statement of operations and other data for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2007 and 2006 have been derived from our audited financial statements that are not included in this annual report on Form 10-K. Our summary balance sheet data as of September 30, 2008, 2007 and 2006 were derived from our audited financial statements that are not included in this annual report on Form 10-K.

The following table sets forth our selected historical financial and other data as of the dates and for the fiscal years ended:

 

     September 30,
2006
    September 30,
2007
    September 30,
2008
    September 30,
2009
    September 30,
2010
 

Statement of Operations Data:

          

Revenues

   $ 3,516      $ 3,383      $ 3,506      $ 3,198      $ 2,984   

Net income (loss) attributable to Warner Music Group Corp.  

     60        (21     (56     (100     (143

Diluted income (loss) per common share (1):

     0.40        (0.14     (0.38     (0.67     (0.96

Dividends per common share

     0.52        0.52        0.26        —          —     

Balance Sheet Data (at period end):

          

Cash and equivalents

   $ 367      $ 333      $ 411      $ 384      $ 439   

Total assets

     4,520        4,572        4,526        4,063        3,779   

Total debt (including current portion of long-term debt)

     2,256        2,273        2,259        1,939        1,945   

Warner Music Group Corp. equity (deficit)

     58        (36     (86     (143     (265

Cash Flow Data:

          

Cash flows provided by (used in):

          

Operating activities

   $ 307      $ 302      $ 304      $ 237      $ 150   

Investing activities

     (146     (255     (167     82        (85

Financing activities

     (88     (94     (59     (346     (3

Capital expenditures

     (30     (29     (32     (27     (51

 

(1) Net income (loss) per share is calculated by dividing net income (loss) attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. by the weighted average common shares outstanding.

 

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ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

You should read the following discussion of our results of operations and financial condition with the audited financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 (the “Annual Report”).

“SAFE HARBOR” STATEMENT UNDER PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995

This Annual Report includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this Annual Report, including, without limitation, statements regarding our future financial position, business strategy, budgets, projected costs, cost savings, industry trends and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In addition, forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe” or “continue” or the negative thereof or variations thereon or similar terminology. Such statements include, among others, statements regarding our ability to develop talent and attract future talent, our ability to reduce future capital expenditures, our ability to monetize our music content, including through new distribution channels and formats to capitalize on the growth areas of the music industry, our ability to effectively deploy our capital, the development of digital music and the effect of digital distribution channels on our business, including whether we will be able to achieve higher margins from digital sales, the success of strategic actions we are taking to accelerate our transformation as we redefine our role in the music industry, the effectiveness of our ongoing efforts to reduce overhead expenditures and manage our variable and fixed cost structure and our ability to generate expected cost savings from such efforts, our success in limiting piracy, our ability to compete in the highly competitive markets in which we operate, the growth of the music industry and the effect of our and the music industry’s efforts to combat piracy on the industry, our intention to pay dividends or repurchase our outstanding notes or common stock in open market purchases, privately or otherwise, our ability to fund our future capital needs and the effect of litigation on us. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to have been correct.

There are a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report. Additionally, important factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements we make in this Annual Report. As stated elsewhere in this Annual Report, such risks, uncertainties and other important factors include, among others:

 

   

the impact of our substantial leverage on our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, on our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry and on our ability to meet our obligations under our indebtedness;

 

   

the continued decline in the global recorded music industry and the rate of overall decline in the music industry;

 

   

our ability to continue to identify, sign and retain desirable talent at manageable costs;

 

   

the threat posed to our business by piracy of music by means of home CD-R activity, Internet peer-to-peer file-sharing and sideloading of unauthorized content;

 

   

the significant threat posed to our business and the music industry by organized industrial piracy;

 

   

the popular demand for particular recording artists and/or songwriters and albums and the timely completion of albums by major recording artists and/or songwriters;

 

   

the diversity and quality of our portfolio of songwriters;

 

   

the diversity and quality of our album releases;

 

   

significant fluctuations in our results of operations and cash flows due to the nature of our business;

 

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our involvement in intellectual property litigation;

 

   

the possible downward pressure on our pricing and profit margins;

 

   

our ability to continue to enforce our intellectual property rights in digital environments;

 

   

the ability to develop a successful business model applicable to a digital environment and to enter into expanded-rights deals with recording artists in order to broaden our revenue streams in growing segments of the music business;

 

   

the impact of heightened and intensive competition in the recorded music and music publishing businesses and our inability to execute our business strategy;

 

   

risks associated with our non-U.S. operations, including limited legal protections of our intellectual property rights and restrictions on the repatriation of capital;

 

   

the impact of legitimate music distribution on the Internet or the introduction of other new music distribution formats;

 

   

the reliance on a limited number of online music stores and their ability to significantly influence the pricing structure for online music stores;

 

   

the impact of rate regulations on our Recorded Music and Music Publishing businesses;

 

   

the impact of rates on other income streams that may be set by arbitration proceedings on our business;

 

   

the impact an impairment in the carrying value of goodwill or other intangible and long-lived assets could have on our operating results and shareholders’ deficit;

 

   

risks associated with the fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates;

 

   

our ability and the ability of our joint venture partners to operate our existing joint ventures satisfactorily;

 

   

the enactment of legislation limiting the terms by which an individual can be bound under a “personal services” contract;

 

   

potential loss of catalog if it is determined that recording artists have a right to recapture recordings under the U.S. Copyright Act;

 

   

changes in law and government regulations;

 

   

trends that affect the end uses of our musical compositions (which include uses in broadcast radio and television, film and advertising businesses);

 

   

the growth of other products that compete for the disposable income of consumers;

 

   

risks inherent in relying on one supplier for manufacturing, packaging and distribution services in North America and Europe;

 

   

risks inherent in our acquiring or investing in other businesses including our ability to successfully manage new businesses that we may acquire as we diversify revenue streams within the music industry;

 

   

the fact that we have engaged in substantial restructuring activities in the past, and may need to implement further restructurings in the future and our restructuring efforts may not be successful or generate expected cost savings;

 

   

the fact that we are outsourcing certain back-office functions, such as IT infrastructure and development and certain finance and accounting functions, which will make us more dependent upon third parties;

 

   

that changes to our information technology infrastructure to harmonize our systems and processes may fail to operate as designed and intended;

 

   

the possibility that our Investor Group’s interests will conflict with ours or yours;

 

   

failure to attract and retain key personnel; and

 

   

the effects associated with the formation of Live Nation Entertainment.

 

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There may be other factors not presently known to us or which we currently consider to be immaterial that may cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements.

All forward-looking statements attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf apply only as of the date of this Annual Report and are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements included in this Annual Report. We disclaim any duty to publicly update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

INTRODUCTION

Warner Music Group Corp. was formed by the Investor Group on November 21, 2003. The Company is the direct parent of WMG Holdings Corp. (“Holdings”), which is the direct parent of WMG Acquisition Corp. (“Acquisition Corp.”). Acquisition Corp is one of the world’s major music-based content companies and the successor to substantially all of the interests of the recorded music and music publishing businesses of Time Warner. Effective March 1, 2004, Acquisition Corp acquired such interests from Time Warner for approximately $2.6 billion. The original Investor Group included THL, Bain, Providence and Music Capital. Music Capital’s partnership agreement required that the Music Capital partnership dissolve and commence winding up by the second anniversary of the Company’s May 2005 initial public offering. As a result, on May 7, 2007, Music Capital made a pro rata distribution of all shares of common stock of the Company held by it to its partners. The shares held by Music Capital had been subject to a stockholders agreement among Music Capital, THL, Bain and Providence and certain other parties. As a result of the distribution, the shares distributed by Music Capital ceased to be subject to the voting and other provisions of the stockholders agreement and Music Capital was no longer part of the Investor Group subject to the stockholders agreement.

The Company and Holdings are holding companies that conduct substantially all of their business operations through their subsidiaries. The terms “we,” “us,” “our,” “ours,” and the “Company” refer collectively to Warner Music Group Corp. and its consolidated subsidiaries, except where otherwise indicated.

Management’s discussion and analysis of results of operations and financial condition (“MD&A”) is provided as a supplement to the audited financial statements and footnotes included elsewhere herein to help provide an understanding of our financial condition, changes in financial condition and results of our operations. MD&A is organized as follows:

 

   

Overview. This section provides a general description of our business, as well as recent developments that we believe are important in understanding our results of operations and financial condition and in anticipating future trends.

 

   

Results of operations. This section provides an analysis of our results of operations for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010, 2009 and 2008. This analysis is presented on both a consolidated and segment basis.

 

   

Financial condition and liquidity. This section provides an analysis of our cash flows for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, as well as a discussion of our financial condition and liquidity as of September 30, 2010. The discussion of our financial condition and liquidity includes (i) a summary of our debt agreements and (ii) a summary of the key debt compliance measures under our debt agreements.

Use of OIBDA

We evaluate our operating performance based on several factors, including our primary financial measure of operating income (loss) before non-cash depreciation of tangible assets, non-cash amortization of intangible assets and non-cash impairment charges to reduce the carrying value of goodwill and intangible assets (which we refer to as “OIBDA”). We consider OIBDA to be an important indicator of the operational strengths and performance of our businesses, including the ability to provide cash flows to service debt. However, a limitation

 

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of the use of OIBDA as a performance measure is that it does not reflect the periodic costs of certain capitalized tangible and intangible assets used in generating revenues in our businesses. Accordingly, OIBDA should be considered in addition to, not as a substitute for, operating income, net income (loss) attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. and other measures of financial performance reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP. In addition, our definition of OIBDA may differ from similarly titled measures used by other companies. A reconciliation of consolidated historical OIBDA to operating income and net income (loss) attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. is provided in our “Results of Operations.”

Use of Constant Currency

As exchange rates are an important factor in understanding period to period comparisons, we believe the presentation of results on a constant-currency basis in addition to reported results helps improve the ability to understand our operating results and evaluate our performance in comparison to prior periods. Constant-currency information compares results between periods as if exchange rates had remained constant period over period. We use results on a constant-currency basis as one measure to evaluate our performance. We calculate constant currency by calculating prior-year results using current-year foreign currency exchange rates. We generally refer to such amounts calculated on a constant-currency basis as “excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange rates.” These results should be considered in addition to, not as a substitute for, results reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Results on a constant-currency basis, as we present them, may not be comparable to similarly titled measures used by other companies and are not a measure of performance presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

OVERVIEW

We are one of the world’s major music-based content companies. We classify our business interests into two fundamental operations: Recorded Music and Music Publishing. A brief description of each of those operations is presented below.

Recorded Music Operations

Our Recorded Music business primarily consists of the discovery and development of artists and the related marketing, distribution and licensing of recorded music produced by such artists.

We are also diversifying our revenues beyond our traditional businesses by entering into expanded-rights deals with recording artists in order to partner with artists in other areas of their careers. Under these agreements, we provide services to and participate in artists’ activities outside the traditional recorded music business. We have built artist services capabilities and platforms for exploiting this broader set of music-related rights and participating more broadly in the monetization of the artist brands we help create. In developing our artist services business, we have both built and expanded in-house capabilities and expertise and have acquired a number of existing artist services companies involved in artist management, merchandising, strategic marketing and brand management, ticketing, concert promotion, fan club, original programming and video entertainment. We believe that entering into expanded-rights deals and enhancing our artist services capabilities with respect to our artists and other artists will permit us to diversify revenue streams to better capitalize on the growth areas of the music industry and permit us to build stronger, long-term relationships with artists and more effectively connect artists and fans.

In the U.S., our Recorded Music operations are conducted principally through our major record labels—Warner Bros. Records and The Atlantic Records Group. Our Recorded Music operations also include Rhino, a division that specializes in marketing our music catalog through compilations and reissuances of previously released music and video titles, as well as in the licensing of recordings to and from third parties for various uses, including film and television soundtracks. Rhino has also become our primary licensing division focused on acquiring broader licensing rights from certain recording artists. For example, we have an exclusive license with

 

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The Grateful Dead to manage the band’s intellectual property and a 50% interest in Frank Sinatra Enterprises, an entity that administers licenses for use of Frank Sinatra’s name and likeness and manages all aspects of his music, film and stage content. We also conduct our Recorded Music operations through a collection of additional record labels, including, among others, Asylum, Cordless, East West, Elektra, Nonesuch, Reprise, Roadrunner, Rykodisc, Sire and Word.

Outside the U.S., our Recorded Music activities are conducted in more than 50 countries primarily through WMI and its various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. WMI engages in the same activities as our U.S. labels: discovering and signing artists and distributing, marketing and selling their recorded music. In most cases, WMI also markets and distributes the records of those artists for whom our U.S. record labels have international rights. In certain smaller markets, WMI licenses to unaffiliated third-party record labels the right to distribute its records. Our international artist services operations also include a network of concert promoters through which WMI provides resources to coordinate tours for our artists and other artists.

Our Recorded Music distribution operations include WEA Corp., which markets and sells music and DVD products to retailers and wholesale distributors in the U.S.; ADA, which distributes the products of independent labels to retail and wholesale distributors in the U.S.; various distribution centers and ventures operated internationally; an 80% interest in Word Entertainment, which specializes in the distribution of music products in the Christian retail marketplace; and ADA Global, which provides distribution services outside of the U.S. through a network of affiliated and non-affiliated distributors.

We play an integral role in virtually all aspects of the recorded music value chain from discovering and developing talent to producing albums and promoting artists and their products. After an artist has entered into a contract with one of our record labels, a master recording of the artist’s music is created. The recording is then replicated for sale to consumers primarily in the CD and digital formats. In the U.S., WEA Corp., ADA and Word market, sell and deliver product, either directly or through sub-distributors and wholesalers, to record stores, mass merchants and other retailers. Our recorded music products are also sold in physical form to online physical retailers such as Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and bestbuy.com and in digital form to online digital retailers like Apple’s iTunes and mobile full-track download stores such as those operated by Verizon or Sprint. In the case of expanded-rights deals where we acquire broader rights in a recording artist’s career, we may provide more comprehensive career support and actively develop new opportunities for an artist through touring, fan clubs, merchandising and sponsorships, among other areas. We believe expanded-rights deals create better partnerships with our artists, which allow us and our artists to work together more closely to create and sustain artistic and commercial success.

We have integrated the sale of digital content into all aspects of our Recorded Music and Music Publishing businesses including A&R, marketing, promotion and distribution. Our new media executives work closely with A&R departments to make sure that while a record is being made, digital assets are also created with all of our distribution channels in mind, including subscription services, social networking sites, online portals and music-centered destinations. We work side by side with our mobile and online partners to test new concepts. We believe existing and new digital businesses will be a significant source of growth for the next several years and will provide new opportunities to monetize our assets and create new revenue streams. As a music-based content company, we have assets that go beyond our recorded music and music publishing catalogs, such as our music video library, which we have begun to monetize through digital channels. The proportion of digital revenues attributed to each distribution channel varies by region and since digital music is still in the relatively early stages of growth, proportions may change as the roll out of new technologies continues. As an owner of musical content, we believe we are well positioned to take advantage of growth in digital distribution and emerging technologies to maximize the value of our assets.

Recorded Music revenues are derived from three main sources:

 

   

Physical and other: the rightsholder receives revenues with respect to sales of physical products such as CDs and DVDs. We are also diversifying our revenues beyond sales of physical products and receive

 

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other revenues from our artist services business and our participation in expanded rights associated with our artists and other artists, including sponsorship, fan club, artist websites, merchandising, touring, ticketing and artist and brand management;

 

   

Digital: the rightsholder receives revenues with respect to online and mobile downloads, mobile ringtones or ringback tones and online and mobile streaming; and

 

   

Licensing: the rightsholder receives royalties or fees for the right to use the sound recording in combination with visual images such as in films or television programs, television commercials and videogames.

The principal costs associated with our Recorded Music operations are as follows:

 

   

Royalty costs and artist and repertoire costs—the costs associated with (i) paying royalties to artists, producers, songwriters, other copyright holders and trade unions, (ii) signing and developing artists, (iii) creating master recordings in the studio and (iv) creating artwork for album covers and liner notes;

 

   

Product costs—the costs to manufacture, package and distribute product to wholesale and retail distribution outlets as well as those principal costs related to expanded rights;

 

   

Selling and marketing costs—the costs associated with the promotion and marketing of artists and recorded music products, including costs to produce music videos for promotional purposes and artist tour support; and

 

   

General and administrative costs—the costs associated with general overhead and other administrative costs.

Music Publishing Operations

Where recorded music is focused on exploiting a particular recording of a song, music publishing is an intellectual property business focused on the exploitation of the song itself. In return for promoting, placing, marketing and administering the creative output of a songwriter, or engaging in those activities for other rights holders, our Music Publishing business garners a share of the revenues generated from use of the song.

Our Music Publishing operations include Warner/Chappell, our global Music Publishing company headquartered in New York with operations in over 50 countries through various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. We own or control rights to more than one million musical compositions, including numerous pop hits, American standards, folk songs and motion picture and theatrical compositions. Assembled over decades, our award-winning catalog includes over 65,000 songwriters and composers and a diverse range of genres including pop, rock, jazz, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, folk, blues, symphonic, soul, Broadway, techno, alternative, gospel and other Christian music. Warner/Chappell also administers the music and soundtracks of several third-party television and film producers and studios, including Lucasfilm, Ltd., Hallmark Entertainment, Disney Music Publishing and Turner Music Publishing. In 2007, we entered the production music library business with the acquisition of Non-Stop Music. We have subsequently continued to expand our production music operations with the acquisitions of Groove Addicts Production Music Library and Carlin Recorded Music Library in 2010. These acquisitions doubled the size of our production music library, which now consists of more than 16 catalogs containing about 74,000 cues/songs.

Publishing revenues are derived from five main sources:

 

   

Mechanical: the licensor receives royalties with respect to compositions embodied in recordings sold in any physical format or configuration (e.g., CDs and DVDs);

 

   

Performance: the licensor receives royalties if the composition is performed publicly through broadcast of music on television, radio, cable and satellite, live performance at a concert or other venue (e.g., arena concerts, nightclubs), online and mobile streaming and performance of music in staged theatrical productions;

 

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Synchronization: the licensor receives royalties or fees for the right to use the composition in combination with visual images such as in films or television programs, television commercials and videogames as well as from other uses such as in toys or novelty items and merchandise;

 

   

Digital: the licensor receives royalties or fees with respect to online and mobile downloads, mobile ringtones and online and mobile streaming; and

 

   

Other: the licensor receives royalties for use in sheet music.

The principal costs associated with our Music Publishing operations are as follows:

 

   

Artist and repertoire costs—the costs associated with (i) signing and developing songwriters and (ii) paying royalties to songwriters, co-publishers and other copyright holders in connection with income generated from the exploitation of their copyrighted works; and

 

   

General and administration costs—the costs associated with general overhead and other administrative costs.

Factors Affecting Results of Operations and Financial Condition

Market Factors

Since 1999, the recorded music industry has been unstable and the worldwide market has contracted considerably, which has adversely affected our operating results. The industry-wide decline can be attributed primarily to digital piracy. Other drivers of this decline are the bankruptcies of record retailers and wholesalers, growing competition for consumer discretionary spending and retail shelf space, and the maturation of the CD format, which has slowed the historical growth pattern of recorded music sales. While CD sales still generate most of the recorded music revenues, CD sales continue to decline industry-wide and we expect that trend to continue. While new formats for selling recorded music product have been created, including the legal downloading of digital music using the Internet and the distribution of music on mobile devices, revenue streams from these new formats have not yet reached a level where they fully offset the declines in CD sales. The recorded music industry performance may continue to negatively impact our operating results. In addition, a declining recorded music industry could continue to have an adverse impact on portions of the music publishing business. This is because the music publishing business generates a significant portion of its revenues from mechanical royalties from the sale of music in CD and other physical recorded music formats.

Severance Charges

During fiscal 2010 we took additional actions to further align our cost structure with industry trends. This resulted in severance charges of $54 million in the current fiscal year compared to $23 million in the prior fiscal year. We expect to generate approximately $30 million in run-rate savings from these efforts over the next fiscal year, which will help to offset declines in revenue and OIBDA resulting from the transition from physical to digital sales.

Mechanical Royalties Payment

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, the U.S. recorded music and music publishing industries reached an agreement for payment of mechanical royalties which were accrued by U.S. record companies in prior years. In connection with this agreement, our music publishing business recognized a benefit of $25 million in revenue and $7 million in OIBDA in fiscal 2009 and a benefit of $5 million in revenue and $2 million in OIBDA in fiscal 2010.

Expanding Business Models to Offset Declines in Physical Sales

Digital Sales

A key part of our strategy to offset declines in physical sales is to expand digital sales. New digital models have enabled us to find additional ways to generate revenues from our music content. In the early stages of the

 

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transition from physical to digital sales, overall sales have decreased as the increases in digital sales have not yet met or exceeded the decrease in physical sales. Part of the reason for this gap is the shift in consumer purchasing patterns made possible from new digital models. In the digital space, consumers are now presented with the opportunity to not only purchase entire albums, but to “unbundle” albums and purchase only favorite tracks as single-track downloads. While to date, sales of online and mobile downloads have constituted the majority of our digital Recorded Music and Music Publishing revenue, that may change over time as new digital models, such as access models (models that typically bundle the purchase of a mobile device with access to music) and streaming subscription services, continue to develop. In the aggregate, we believe that growth in revenue from new digital models has the potential to offset physical declines and drive overall future revenue growth. In the digital space, certain costs associated with physical products, such as manufacturing, distribution, inventory and return costs, do not apply. Partially eroding that benefit are increases in mechanical copyright royalties payable to music publishers which apply in the digital space. While there are some digital-specific variable costs and infrastructure investments necessary to produce, market and sell music in digital formats, we believe it is reasonable to expect that digital margins will generally be higher than physical margins as a result of the elimination of certain costs associated with physical products. As consumer purchasing patterns change over time and new digital models are launched, we may see fluctuations in contribution margin depending on the overall sales mix.

Expanded-Rights Deals

We have also been seeking to expand our relationships with recording artists as another means to offset declines in physical revenues in Recorded Music. For example, we have been signing recording artists to expanded-rights deals for the last several years. Under these expanded-rights deals, we participate in the recording artist’s revenue streams, other than from recorded music sales, such as live performances, merchandising and sponsorships. We believe that additional revenue from these revenue streams will help to offset declines in physical revenue over time. As we have generally signed newer artists to these deals, increased non-traditional revenue from these deals is expected to come several years after these deals have been signed as the artists become more successful and are able to generate revenue other than from recorded music sales. While non-traditional Recorded Music revenue, which includes revenue from expanded-rights deals as well as revenue from our artist services business, was less than 10% of our total revenue in fiscal 2010, we believe this revenue should continue to grow and represent a larger proportion of our revenue over time. We also believe that the strategy of entering into expanded-rights deals and continuing to develop our artist services business will contribute to Recorded Music growth over time. Margins for the various non-traditional Recorded Music revenue streams can vary significantly. The overall impact on margins will, therefore, depend on the composition of the various revenue streams in any particular period. For instance, revenue from touring under our expanded-rights deals typically flows straight through to net income with little cost. Revenue from our management business and revenue from sponsorship and touring under expanded-rights deals are all high margin, while merchandise revenue under expanded-rights deals and concert promotion revenue from our concert promotion businesses tend to be lower margin than our traditional revenue streams from recorded music and music publishing.

 

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RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2010 Compared with Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2009 and Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2008

Consolidated Historical Results

Revenues

Our revenues were composed of the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
    2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010     2009     2008     $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

Revenue by Type

              

Physical and other

   $ 1,524      $ 1,763      $ 2,076      $ (239     -14   $ (313     -15

Digital

     713        656        599        57        9     57        10

Licensing

     218        223        230        (5     -2     (7     -3
                                            

Total Recorded Music

     2,455        2,642        2,905        (187     -7     (263     -9

Mechanical

     177        192        225        (15     -8     (33     -15

Performance

     207        226        243        (19     -8     (17     -7

Synchronization

     102        97        99        5        5     (2     -2

Digital

     59        54        40        5        9     14        35

Other

     11        13        21        (2     -15     (8     -38
                                            

Total Music Publishing

     556        582        628        (26     -4     (46     -7

Intersegment elimination

     (27     (26     (27     (1     4     1        -4
                                            

Total Revenue

   $ 2,984      $ 3,198      $ 3,506      $ (214     -7   $ (308     -9
                                            

Revenue by Geographical Location

              

U.S. Recorded Music

   $ 1,043      $ 1,174      $ 1,375      $ (131     -11   $ (201     -15

U.S. Publishing

     214        242        230        (28     -12     12        5
                                            

Total U.S.

     1,257        1,416        1,605        (159     -11     (189     -12

International Recorded Music

     1,412        1,468        1,530        (56     -4     (62     -4

International Publishing

     342        340        398        2        1     (58     -15
                                            

Total International

     1,754        1,808        1,928        (54     -3     (120     -6

Intersegment eliminations

     (27     (26     (27     (1     4     1        -4
                                            

Total Revenue

   $ 2,984      $ 3,198      $ 3,506      $ (214     -7   $ (308     -9
                                            

Total Revenue

2010 vs. 2009

Total revenues decreased by $214 million, or 7%, to $2.984 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $3.198 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Prior to intersegment eliminations, Recorded Music and Music Publishing revenues comprised 82% and 18% of total revenues for the fiscal years September 30, 2010 and 2009. U.S. and international revenues comprised 42% and 58% of total revenues for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, respectively, compared to 44% and 56% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, respectively. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total revenues decreased $280 million, or 9%.

Total digital revenues, after intersegment eliminations, increased by $56 million, or 8%, to $759 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $703 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Total

 

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digital revenue represented 25% and 22% of consolidated revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. Prior to intersegment eliminations, total digital revenues for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 were comprised of U.S. revenues of $462 million, or 60% of total digital revenues, and international revenues of $310 million, or 40% of total digital revenues. Prior to intersegment eliminations, total digital revenues for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 were comprised of U.S. revenues of $457 million, or 64% of total digital revenues, and international revenues of $253 million, or 36% of total digital revenues. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total digital revenues increased by $44 million, or 6%.

Recorded Music revenues decreased $187 million, or 7% to $2.455 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, from $2.642 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. This performance reflected the ongoing impact of the transition from physical to digital sales and decreased licensing revenues partially offset by stronger international concert promotion revenue in the current fiscal year, most notably in Italy. Reduced consumer demand for physical products has resulted in a reduction in the amount of floor and shelf space dedicated to music by retailers. Retailers still account for the majority of sales of our physical product; however, as the number of physical music retailers has declined significantly, there is increased competition for available display space. This has led to a decrease in the amount and variety of physical product on display. In addition, increases in digital revenue have not yet fully offset the decline in physical revenue. We believe this is attributable to the ability of consumers in the digital space to purchase individual tracks from an album rather than purchase the entire album and the ongoing issue of piracy. Digital revenue increased $57 million, or 9%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, largely due to strong international download growth and moderate domestic download growth, offset by declines in mobile revenues primarily related to lower ringtone demand in the U.S. Digital revenue in the U.S. is increasingly correlated to our overall release schedule and the timing and success of new products and service introductions. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Recorded Music revenues decreased $248 million, or 9%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

Music Publishing revenues decreased by $26 million, or 4%, to $556 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $582 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease in Music Publishing revenue was due primarily to declines in performance revenues and mechanical revenues, which more than offset the increases in synchronization and digital revenue. Performance revenue decreases were due primarily to the timing of cash collections and our decision not to renew certain low margin administrative deals. The decrease in mechanical revenues was due primarily to a $25 million benefit recorded in the 2009 fiscal year, as compared with a $5 million benefit recorded in the 2010 fiscal year, stemming from an agreement reached by the U.S. recorded music and music publishing industries, which resulted in the payment of mechanical royalties accrued in prior years by U.S. record companies. The decrease in mechanical revenues was partially offset by higher physical recorded music royalties earned primarily related to Michael Jackson, Susan Boyle and Michael Bublé. Synchronization revenue increases reflected an improvement in the advertising industry. Digital revenue increased $5 million due to the continued transition from physical to digital sales and the timing of collections. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Music Publishing revenues decreased $31 million, or 5%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

2009 vs. 2008

Total revenues decreased by $308 million, or 9%, to $3.198 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $3.506 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Prior to intersegment eliminations, Recorded Music and Music Publishing revenues comprised 82% and 18% of total revenues for the fiscal years September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. U.S. and international revenues comprised 44% and 56% of total revenues for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, respectively, compared to 45% and 55% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008, respectively. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total revenues decreased $103 million, or 3%.

 

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Total digital revenues after intersegment eliminations increased by $64 million, or 10%, to $703 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $639 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Total digital revenue represented 22% and 18% of consolidated revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. Prior to intersegment eliminations, total digital revenues for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 were comprised of U.S. revenues of $457 million, or 64% of total digital revenues, and international revenues of $253 million, or 36% of total digital revenues. Prior to intersegment eliminations, total digital revenues for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008 were comprised of U.S. revenues of $413 million, or 65% of total digital revenues, and international revenues of $226 million, or 35% of total digital revenues. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total digital revenues increased by $84 million, or 14%.

Recorded Music revenues decreased $263 million, or 9% to $2.642 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, from $2.905 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. This decrease was driven by the decrease in physical and other revenue of $313 million, which primarily reflected general economic pressures and the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry, which adversely impacted our physical revenues. In addition, revenues in the prior fiscal year included the release of the largest selling album of calendar 2007 in the U.S. according to SoundScan, “Noel”, which sold approximately 5.6 million units globally, primarily during the first quarter of fiscal 2008. Licensing revenues also decreased $7 million primarily as a result of general economic pressures, which led to reduced domestic advertising spending. The decrease in physical and licensing revenues was partially offset by an increase in concert promotion revenues related to our European concert promotion business and an increase in digital revenues of $57 million. Digital revenue increased as the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry continued, but the rate of growth during the fiscal year 2009 was negatively impacted by the timing and success of commercial product introductions by our digital partners and continued worldwide economic pressures. As digital revenues become a greater percentage of overall revenues, fluctuations in digital revenues between periods is becoming increasingly driven by the timing of releases. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Recorded Music revenues decreased $112 million, or 4%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

Music Publishing revenues decreased by $46 million, or 7%, to $582 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $628 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. The decrease in Music Publishing revenues was due primarily to declines in mechanical revenues of $33 million and performance revenues of $17 million, which reflected the effects of the industry-wide decrease in physical sales. The decrease in mechanical revenues was partially offset by a $25 million benefit from an agreement reached by the U.S. recorded music and music publishing industries, which resulted in the payment of mechanical royalties accrued in prior years by record companies. In addition, the decrease in mechanical and performance revenues was partially offset by an increase in digital revenues of $14 million as the transition from physical sales to digital sales continues. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Music Publishing revenues increased $3 million, or 1%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

Revenue by Geographical Location

2010 vs. 2009

U.S. revenues decreased by $159 million, or 11%, to $1.257 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $1.416 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The overall decline in the U.S. Recorded Music business primarily reflected the on-going transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry. The decline in the U.S. Publishing business was primarily due to declines in performance revenues and mechanical revenues. Performance revenue decreases were due primarily to the timing of cash collections and our decision not to renew certain low margin administrative deals. The decrease in mechanical revenues was due primarily to a $25 million benefit recorded in the 2009 fiscal year, as compared with a $5 million benefit recorded in the 2010 fiscal year, stemming from an agreement reached by the U.S. recorded music and music

 

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publishing industries, which resulted in the payment of mechanical royalties accrued in prior years by U.S. record companies. The decrease in mechanical revenues was partially offset by higher physical recorded music royalties earned primarily related to Michael Jackson, Susan Boyle and Michael Bublé.

International revenues decreased by $54 million, or 3%, to $1.754 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $1.808 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. An increase in digital revenue, primarily as a result of growth in digital downloads, was more than offset by the contracting demand for physical product and licensing revenues. The contracting demand for physical product reflected the ongoing impact from transitioning to digital from physical sales in the recorded music industry. Revenue growth in the U.K. and Italy was more than offset by weakness in Japan as well as other parts of Europe. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange, international revenues decreased $120 million, or 6%.

2009 vs. 2008

U.S. revenues decreased by $189 million, or 12%, to $1.416 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $1.605 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008 due to general economic pressures and the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry, which also adversely impacted our physical revenues. In addition, domestic revenues in the prior fiscal year included the release of the largest selling album of calendar 2007 in the U.S. according to SoundScan, “Noel”, which sold over 4 million units in the U.S., largely during the first quarter of fiscal year 2008. The decrease in physical and other revenues was partially offset by an increase in digital revenues which continued to increase as the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry continues, but the rate of growth in the current-fiscal year was negatively impacted by the timing and success of commercial product introductions by our digital partners and continued economic pressures. As digital revenues become a greater percentage of overall revenues, fluctuations in digital revenues between periods are becoming increasingly driven by the timing of our releases.

International revenues decreased by $120 million, or 6%, to $1.808 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $1.928 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign currency exchange, international revenues increased $85 million, or 5%. The increase was driven by an increase in digital revenues and an increase in revenues from our European concert promotion business. These increases were offset by a decrease in sales of physical product and the related mechanical revenues which were driven by general economic pressures and the ongoing transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry.

See “Business Segment Results” presented hereinafter for a discussion of revenue by type for each business segment.

Cost of revenues

Our cost of revenues was composed of the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
     2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010      2009      2008      $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

Artist and repertoire costs

   $ 943       $ 1,062       $ 1,181       $ (119     -11   $ (119     -10

Product costs

     559         579         588         (20     -3     (9     -2

Licensing costs

     70         78         77         (8     -10     1        1
                                               

Total cost of revenues

   $ 1,572       $ 1,719       $ 1,846       $ (147     -9   $ (127     -7
                                               

 

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2010 vs. 2009

Our cost of revenues decreased by $147 million, or 9%, to $1.572 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $1.719 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Expressed as a percent of revenues, cost of revenues was 53% and 54% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

Artist and repertoire costs as a percentage of revenues were 32% and 33% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The decrease in artist and repertoire costs was driven by decreased revenues for the current fiscal year, a cost-recovery benefit related to the early termination of certain artist contracts and a benefit from increased recoupment on artists whose advances were previously written off, partially offset by severance charges taken in the current fiscal year primarily related to our Recorded Music operations.

Product costs as a percentage of revenues were 19% and 18% of revenues in the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The increase as a percentage of revenues was driven primarily by production costs associated with our European concert promotion business, which is typically lower in margin than our traditional recorded music business. The decrease in product costs was primarily a result of the change in mix from the sale of physical products to new forms of digital music partially offset by increased production costs associated with our European concert promotion business.

Licensing costs decreased $8 million, or 10%, to $70 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $78 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Expressed as a percentage of licensing revenues, licensing costs decreased from 35% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 to 32% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, primarily as a result of changes in revenue mix.

2009 vs. 2008

Our cost of revenues decreased by $127 million, or 7%, to $1.719 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $1.846 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Expressed as a percent of revenues, cost of revenues was 54% and 53% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively.

Artist and repertoire costs as a percentage of revenues were 33% and 34% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The decrease in artist and repertoire costs was driven by decreased revenues for the 2009 fiscal year as compared with the 2008 fiscal year, resulting from general economic pressures and the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry.

Product costs decreased primarily as a result of the change in mix from the sale of physical products to new forms of digital music. Product costs as a percentage of revenues were 18% and 17% of revenues in the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The increase as a percentage of revenues was driven primarily by international production costs associated with our European concert promotion business, which is typically lower in margin than our traditional recorded music business.

Licensing costs increased $1 million, or 1%, to $78 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $77 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Expressed as a percentage of licensing revenues, licensing costs increased to 35% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from 33% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008, primarily as a result of changes in revenue mix.

 

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Selling, general and administrative expenses

Our selling, general and administrative expenses are composed of the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
     2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010      2009      2008      $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

General and administrative expense (1)

   $ 583       $ 564       $ 598       $ 19        3   $ (34     -6

Selling and marketing expense

     452         489         559         (37     -8     (70     -13

Distribution expense

     68         66         77         2        3     (11     -14
                                               

Total selling, general and administrative expense

   $ 1,103       $ 1,119       $ 1,234       $ (16     -1   $ (115     -9
                                               

 

(1) Includes depreciation expense of $39 million, $37 million and $46 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010, 2009 and 2008, respectively.

2010 vs. 2009

Selling, general and administrative expense decreased by $16 million, or 1%, to $1.103 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $1.119 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Expressed as a percent of revenues, selling, general and administrative expense increased to 37% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from 35% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

General and administrative expense increased by $19 million, or 3%, to $583 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $564 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Expressed as a percentage of revenues, general and administrative expenses increased from 18% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 to 20% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, driven by severance charges of $47 million recorded during the current year primarily related to our Recorded Music operations as compared with $23 million taken during the prior fiscal year, partially offset by realization of cost savings from initiatives taken by management in prior periods.

Selling and marketing expense decreased primarily as a result of our effort to better align selling and marketing expenses with revenues earned partially offset by severance charges of $4 million taken during the current year primarily related to our Recorded Music operations. Expressed as a percentage of revenues, selling and marketing expense remained flat at 15% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009.

Distribution expense remained flat as a percentage of revenues at 2% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2009.

2009 vs. 2008

Selling, general and administrative expense decreased by $115 million, or 9%, to $1.119 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $1.234 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Expressed as a percent of revenues, selling, general and administrative expense remained flat at 35% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008.

General and administrative expense decreased by $34 million, or 6%, to $564 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $598 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. The decrease in general and administrative expense was the result of the continued focus on company-wide cost-management efforts, lower compensation expense and lower depreciation expense, partially offset by $23 million of severance taken in the 2009 fiscal year primarily related to our Recorded Music operations.

 

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Selling and marketing expense decreased primarily as a result of our effort to better align selling and marketing expenses with revenues earned. Expressed as a percentage of revenues, selling and marketing expense decreased to 15% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from 16% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008.

Distribution expense remained flat as a percentage of revenues at 2% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and September 30, 2008.

Other income, net

2009 vs. 2008

Other income, net for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008, included $3 million related to a contingent payment related to settlement of copyright litigation against the operators of the KaZaA peer-to-peer network.

Reconciliation of Consolidated Historical OIBDA to Operating Income from Continuing Operations and Net Loss Attributable to Warner Music Group Corp.

As previously described, we use OIBDA as our primary measure of financial performance. The following table reconciles OIBDA to operating income from continuing operations, and further provides the components from operating income from continuing operations to net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. for purposes of the discussion that follows (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
    2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010     2009     2008     $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

OIBDA

   $ 348      $ 397      $ 475      $ (49     -12   $ (78     -16

Depreciation expense

     (39     (37     (46     (2     5     9        -20

Amortization expense

     (219     (225     (222     6        -3     (3     1
                                            

Operating income from continuing operations

     90        135        207        (45     -33     (72     -35

Interest expense, net

     (190     (195     (180     5        -3     (15     8

Gain on sale of equity-method investment

     —          36        —          (36     -100     36        —     

Gain on foreign exchange transaction

     —          9        —          (9     -100     9        —     

Impairment of cost-method investments

     (1     (29     —          28        97     (29     —     

Impairment of equity-method investments

     —          (11     —          11        100     (11     —     

Other (expense) income, net

     (3     1        (8     (4     —          9        —     
                                            

(Loss) income from continuing operations before income taxes

     (104     (54     19        (50     93     (73     —     

Income tax expense

     (41     (50     (49     9        -18     (1     2
                                            

Loss from continuing operations

     (145     (104     (30     (41     39     (74     —     

Loss from discontinued operations, net of taxes

     —          —          (21     —          —          21        -100
                                            

Net loss

     (145     (104     (51     (41     39     (53     —     

Less: loss (income) attributable to noncontrolling interest

     2        4        (5     (2     -50     9        —     
                                            

Net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp.  

   $ (143   $ (100   $ (56   $ (43     43   $ (44     79
                                            

 

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OIBDA

2010 vs. 2009

Our OIBDA decreased by $49 million to $348, or 12%, million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 as compared to $397 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Expressed as a percentage of revenues, total OIBDA margin remained flat at 12% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009. Our OIBDA decrease was primarily driven by decreased revenues and increased severance charges of $31 million primarily related to our Recorded Music operations, partially offset by the realization of cost savings from management initiatives taken in prior periods and the decreases in artist and repertoire and selling and marketing expense noted above.

2009 vs. 2008

Our OIBDA decreased by $78 million to $397, or 16%, million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 as compared to $475 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Expressed as a percentage of revenues, total OIBDA margin was 12% and 14% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The decrease in OIBDA margin was primarily the result of negative operating leverage from lower sales on a similar fixed-cost base and declines related to the recession in Japan, which is a higher-margin territory, partially offset by the effect of continued company-wide cost-management efforts.

See “Business Segment Results” presented hereinafter for a discussion of OIBDA by business segment.

Depreciation expense

2010 vs. 2009

Depreciation expense increased by $2 million, or 5%, to $39 million for fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. The increase was primarily related to additional depreciation expense from recently acquired companies.

2009 vs. 2008

Depreciation expense decreased by $9 million, or 20%, to $37 million for fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease was primarily related to the effects of lower capital expenditures during the 2009 fiscal year end as well as lower expenses related to projects that have been fully depreciated.

Amortization expense

2010 vs. 2009

Amortization expense decreased by $6 million, or 3%, to $219 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. The decrease was due primarily to certain intangible assets being fully amortized during the current fiscal year.

2009 vs. 2008

Amortization expense increased by $3 million, or 1%, to $225 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The increase was due primarily to amortization on newly acquired intangible assets.

Operating income from continuing operations

2010 vs. 2009

Our operating income from continuing operations decreased $45 million, or 33%, to $90 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 as compared to $135 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

 

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Operating income from continuing operations margin decreased to 3% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, from 4% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease in operating income from continuing operations was primarily due to the decline in OIBDA and the increase in depreciation expense partially offset by the decrease in amortization expense noted above.

2009 vs. 2008

Our operating income from continuing operations decreased $72 million, or 35%, to $135 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 as compared to $207 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Operating income margin decreased to 4% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, from 6% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. The decrease in operating income was primarily due to the decline in OIBDA and the increase in amortization expense partially offset by the decrease in depreciation expense noted above.

Interest expense, net

2010 vs. 2009

Our interest expense, net, decreased $5 million, or 3%, to $190 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 as compared to $195 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease was primarily driven by deferred financing fees of $18 million, written off during the 2009 fiscal year in connection with the repayment of our senior secured credit facility. The decrease was partially offset by the change in interest terms related to our refinancing in May 2009.

2009 vs. 2008

Our interest expense, net, increased $15 million, or 8%, to $195 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 as compared to $180 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. The increase was primarily driven by deferred financing fees of $18 million, written off during the 2009 fiscal year in connection with the repayment of our senior secured credit facility and the change in interest terms related to our refinancing in May of 2009.

See “—Financial Condition and Liquidity” for more information.

Gain on sale of equity-method investment

During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, we sold our remaining equity stake in Front Line Management to Ticketmaster for $123 million in cash. As a result of the transaction, we recorded a gain on sale of equity-method investment of $36 million.

Gain on foreign exchange transaction

During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, we recorded a $9 million non-cash gain on a foreign exchange transaction as a result of a settlement of a short-term foreign denominated loan related to the Front Line Management sale.

Impairment of cost-method investments

2010 vs. 2009

During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, we recorded a $1 million charge to write off certain cost-method investments based on their current fair value. During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, we determined that our cost-method investments in digital venture capital companies, including imeem and lala, were impaired largely due to the current economic environment and changing business conditions from the time of the initial investment. As a result, we recorded one-time charges of $29 million, including $16 million to write off our investment in imeem and $11 million to write down our investment in lala.

 

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2009 vs. 2008

During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, we determined that our cost-method investments in digital venture capital companies, including imeem and lala, were impaired largely due to the current economic environment and changing business conditions from the time of the initial investment. As a result, we recorded one-time charges of $29 million, including $16 million to write off our investment in imeem and $11 million to write down our investment in lala. There were no impairment charges recorded for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008.

Impairment of equity-method investments

During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, we chose not to continue our participation in Equatrax, L.P. (formerly known as Royalty Services, L.P.) and Equatrax, LLC (formerly known as Royalty Services, LLC), which were formed in 2004 to develop an outsourced royalty platform. As a result, we wrote off the remaining $10 million related to our investment in the joint venture and another $1 million related to another smaller investment.

Other (expense) income, net

2010 vs. 2009

Other expense, net for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 included net hedging gains on foreign exchange contracts, which represent currency exchange movements associated with intercompany receivables and payables that are short term in nature, offset by equity in earnings on our share of net income on investments recorded in accordance with the equity method of accounting for an unconsolidated investee.

2009 vs. 2008

Other income, net for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 included the gain on sale of a building and equity in earnings on our share of net income on investments recorded in accordance with the equity method of accounting for an unconsolidated investee, partially offset by net hedging losses on foreign exchange contracts, which represent currency exchange movements associated with inter-company receivables and payables that are short term in nature.

Income tax expense

2010 vs. 2009

We provided income tax expense of $41 million and $50 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The decrease in income tax expense primarily relates to a decrease in pretax earnings in certain foreign jurisdictions.

2009 vs. 2008

We provided income tax expense of $50 million and $49 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The 2009 fiscal year expense reflected the reversal of $15 million of previously recognized tax benefits associated with the tax amortization of indefinite lived intangibles from the Acquisition, offset by a benefit of $14 million related to new digital transfer pricing agreements.

During the quarter ended March 31, 2009, we settled our federal income tax audit with the IRS for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2004 through September 30, 2006. The IRS commenced its audit of the fiscal years ended September 30, 2008 and September 30, 2007. Various tax years are currently under examination by state and local and foreign tax authorities.

 

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Loss from continuing operations

2010 vs. 2009

Our loss from continuing operations increased by $41 million to $145 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 as compared to $104 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The increase in loss from continuing operations was driven primarily by our decrease in OIBDA and the increase in depreciation expense partially offset by decreases in our amortization expense, interest expense and income tax expense during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. In addition, during the 2009 fiscal year we recorded gains on the sale of our remaining stake in Front Line Management, a foreign exchange transaction and the sale of a building, which were partially offset by impairments of equity and cost-method investments as discussed above.

2009 vs. 2008

Our loss from continuing operations increased by $74 million to $104 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 as compared to $30 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. The increase in loss from continuing operations was driven primarily by our decrease in OIBDA, the increase in amortization expense and the increase in interest expense, partially offset by decrease in depreciation expense. In addition, during the 2009 fiscal year we recorded gains on the sale of our remaining stake in Front Line Management, a foreign exchange transaction and the sale of a building, which were partially offset by impairments of equity and cost-method investments as discussed above.

Loss from discontinued operations, net of taxes

During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008, we discontinued our Bulldog operations. In connection with shutting down Bulldog, we incurred a loss of $18 million representing an impairment of goodwill recorded at the time of the initial disposition and incurred $3 million in severance and other costs.

Net loss

2010 vs. 2009

Our net loss increased by $41 million to $145 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, as compared to $104 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The increase in net loss was primarily the result of the factors noted above with respect to our loss from continuing operations.

2009 vs. 2008

Our net loss increased by $53 million to $104 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 as compared to $51 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. The increase in net loss was primarily the result of the factors noted above with respect to our loss from continuing operations and the discontinuing of our Bulldog operations.

Noncontrolling interest

2010 vs. 2009

Net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009 was $2 million and $4 million, respectively.

2009 vs. 2008

Net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 was $4 million compared to net income attributable to noncontrolling interests of $5 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008.

 

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Business Segment Results

Revenue, OIBDA and operating income (loss) from continuing operations by business segment are as follows (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
    2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010     2009     2008     $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

Recorded Music

              

Revenue

   $ 2,455      $ 2,642      $ 2,905      $ (187     -7   $ (263     -9

OIBDA

     279        332        411        (53     -16     (79     -19

Operating income from continuing operations

   $ 102      $ 149      $ 228      $ (47     -32   $ (79     -35

Music Publishing

              

Revenue

   $ 556      $ 582      $ 628      $ (26     -4   $ (46     -7

OIBDA

     157        165        167        (8     -5     (2     -1

Operating income from continuing operations

   $ 86      $ 97      $ 96      $ (11     -11   $ 1        1

Corporate Expenses and Eliminations

              

Revenue

   $ (27   $ (26   $ (27   $ (1     -4   $ 1        4

OIBDA

     (88     (100     (103     12        12     3        3

Operating loss from continuing operations

   $ (98   $ (111   $ (117   $ 13        -12   $ 6        -5

Total

              

Revenue

   $ 2,984      $ 3,198      $ 3,506      $ (214     -7   $ (308     -9

OIBDA

     348        397        475        (49     -12     (78     -16

Operating income from continuing operations

   $ 90      $ 135      $ 207      $ (45     -33   $ (72     -35

Recorded Music

Revenues

2010 vs. 2009

Recorded Music revenues decreased by $187 million, or 7%, to $2.455 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $2.642 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Prior to intersegment eliminations, Recorded Music revenues represented 82% of consolidated revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009. U.S. Recorded Music revenues were $1.043 billion and $1.174 billion, or 42% and 44% of Recorded Music revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. International Recorded Music revenues were $1.412 billion and $1.468 billion, or 58% and 56% of Recorded Music revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

The decrease in Recorded Music revenues primarily reflected the continued transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry, which adversely impacted our physical revenues. This performance reflected the ongoing impact from transitioning to digital from physical sales and decreased licensing revenues partially offset by stronger international concert promotion results in the current fiscal year, most notably in Italy. Reduced consumer demand for physical products has resulted in a reduction in the amount of floor and shelf space dedicated to music by retailers. Retailers still account for the majority of sales of our physical product; however, as the number of physical music retailers has declined significantly, there is increased competition for available display space. This has led to a decrease in the amount and variety of physical product on display. In addition, increases in digital revenue have not yet fully offset the decline in physical revenue. We

 

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believe this is attributable to the ability of consumers in the digital space to purchase individual tracks from an album rather than purchase the entire album and the ongoing issue of piracy. Digital revenue increased $57 million, or 9%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, largely due to strong international download growth and moderate domestic download growth, offset by declines in mobile revenues primarily related to lower ringtone demand in the U.S. Digital revenue in the U.S. is increasingly correlated to our overall release schedule and the timing and success of new products and service introductions. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Recorded Music revenues decreased $248 million, or 9%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

2009 vs. 2008

Recorded Music revenues decreased by $263 million, or 9%, to $2.642 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $2.905 billion for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Prior to intersegment eliminations, Recorded Music revenues represented 82% of consolidated revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008. U.S. Recorded Music revenues were $1.174 billion and $1.375 billion, or 44% and 47% of Recorded Music revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. International Recorded Music revenues were $1.468 billion and $1.530 billion, or 56% and 53% of Recorded Music revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively.

The decrease in Recorded Music revenues primarily reflected general economic pressures and the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry. This decrease was partially offset by an increase in concert promotion revenues related to our European concert promotion business, and an increase in digital revenues of $57 million. Digital revenue continued to increase as the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry continues, but the rate of growth in the current year quarter was negatively impacted by the timing and success of commercial product introductions by our digital partners and continued worldwide economic pressures. As digital revenues become a greater percentage of overall revenues, fluctuations in digital revenues between periods is becoming increasingly driven by the timing of releases. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Recorded Music revenues decreased $112 million, or 4%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

Recorded Music cost of revenues was composed of the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
     2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010      2009      2008      $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

Artist and repertoire costs

   $ 637       $ 729       $ 809       $ (92     -13   $ (80     -10

Product costs

     559         579         588         (20     -3     (9     -2

Licensing costs

     70         78         77         (8     -10     1        1
                                               

Total cost of revenues

   $ 1,266       $ 1,386       $ 1,474       $ (120     -9   $ (88     -6
                                               

Cost of revenues

2010 vs. 2009

Recorded Music cost of revenues decreased by $120 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. Cost of revenues represented 52% of Recorded Music revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009. The decrease in cost of revenues was driven primarily by the decrease in artist and repertoire costs, product costs and licensing costs. The decrease in artist and repertoire costs was driven by the decrease in revenue, a cost-recovery benefit related to the early termination of certain artist contracts and a benefit from increased recoupment on artists whose advances were previously written off. The decrease in product costs was driven by the decline of physical product revenue as a result of the change in revenue mix from the sale of physical products to new forms of digital music partially offset by production costs associated with our European concert promotion business. The decrease in licensing costs was driven by the decrease in licensing revenue.

 

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2009 vs. 2008

Recorded Music cost of revenues decreased by $88 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Cost of revenues represented 52% and 51% of Recorded Music revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The decrease in cost of revenues was driven primarily by decreases in artist and repertoire costs and product costs. The decrease in artist and repertoire costs were driven by the decrease in revenue for the 2009 fiscal year as compared with the 2008 fiscal year resulting from general economic pressures and the transition from physical sales to new forms of digital sales in the recorded music industry. The decrease in product costs was driven by the decline of physical product revenue as a result of the change in revenue mix from the sale of physical products to new forms of digital music partially offset by production costs associated with our European concert promotion business.

Recorded Music selling, general and administrative expenses were composed of the following amounts (in millions):

 

    For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
    2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
      2010         2009         2008       $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

General and administrative expense (1)

  $ 423      $ 398      $ 431      $ 25        6   $ (33     -8

Selling and marketing expense

    444        482        544        (38     -8     (62     -11

Distribution expense

    68        66        76        2        3     (10     -13
                                           

Total selling, general and administrative expense

  $ 935      $ 946      $ 1,051      $ (11     -1   $ (105     -10
                                           

 

(1) Includes depreciation expense of $25 million, $22 million and $28 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010, 2009 and 2008, respectively.

Selling, general and administrative expense

2010 vs. 2009

Selling, general and administrative costs decreased by $11 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. The decrease in selling, general and administrative expense was driven primarily by the decrease in selling and marketing expense partially offset by the increase in general and administrative expense. The decrease in selling and marketing expense was driven by our continued efforts to better align spending on selling and marketing expense with revenues earned. The increase in general and administrative expense was driven by severance charges $46 million taken during the 2010 fiscal year as compared with $18 million in the 2009 fiscal year, partially offset by the realization of cost savings from management initiatives taken in prior periods. Expressed as a percentage of Recorded Music revenues, selling, general and administrative expenses increased to 38% for fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from 36% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009.

2009 vs. 2008

Selling, general and administrative costs decreased by $105 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease in selling, general and administrative expense was driven primarily by the decrease in selling and marketing expense, general and administrative expense and distribution expense. The decrease in selling, general and administrative expense was primarily driven by our efforts to better align selling and marketing expenses with revenues earned and the timing of our releases. The decrease in general and administrative expense was driven by the effect of continued focus on company-wide cost-management efforts and lower compensation expense, partially offset by $18 million of severance charges taken during the 2009 fiscal year. The decrease in distribution expense was commensurate with the reduction of physical product sales. Expressed as a percentage of Recorded Music revenues, selling, general and administrative expenses remained flat at 36% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008.

 

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OIBDA and Operating income from continuing operations

Recorded Music operating income from continuing operations included the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
    2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010     2009     2008     $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

OIBDA

   $ 279      $ 332      $ 411      $ (53     -16   $ (79     -19

Depreciation and amortization expense

     (177     (183     (183     6        -3     —          —     
                                            

Operating income from continuing operations

   $ 102      $ 149      $ 228      $ (47     -32   $ (79     -35
                                            

2010 vs. 2009

Recorded Music OIBDA decreased by $53 million, or 16%, to $279 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 compared to $332 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Expressed as a percentage of Recorded Music revenues, Recorded Music OIBDA margin was 11% and 13% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. Our decreased OIBDA margin was primarily the result of increased severance charges and decreased revenues, partially offset by the realization of cost savings from management initiatives taken in prior periods and the decrease in artist and repertoire costs and product costs noted above.

Recorded Music operating income from continuing operations decreased by $47 million due to the decrease in OIBDA noted above partially offset by the decrease in depreciation and amortization expense. Recorded Music operating income margin decreased to 4% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from 6% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

2009 vs. 2008

Recorded Music OIBDA decreased by $79 million, or 19%, to $332 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 compared to $411 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Expressed as a percentage of Recorded Music revenues, Recorded Music OIBDA margin was 13% and 14% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. Our decreased OIBDA margin was primarily the result of negative operating leverage from lower sales on a similar fixed-cost base, declines related to the recession in Japan, which is a higher-margin territory, partially offset by the effect of continued company-wide cost-management efforts.

Recorded Music operating income from continuing operations decreased by $79 million due to the decrease in OIBDA noted above. Recorded Music operating income margin decreased to 6% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from 8% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008.

Music Publishing

Revenues

2010 vs. 2009

Music Publishing revenues decreased by $26 million, or 4%, to $556 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $582 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Prior to intersegment eliminations, Music Publishing revenues represented 18% of consolidated revenues, for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009. U.S. Music Publishing revenues were $214 million and $242 million, or 38% and 42% of Music Publishing revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. International Music Publishing revenues were $342 million and $340 million, or 62% and 58% of Music Publishing revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

 

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The decrease in Music Publishing revenue was due primarily to declines in performance revenues and mechanical revenues, which more than offset the increases in synchronization and digital revenue. Performance revenue decreases were due primarily to the timing of cash collections and our decision not to renew certain low margin administrative deals. The decrease in mechanical revenues was due primarily to a $25 million benefit recorded in the 2009 fiscal year, as compared with a $5 million benefit recorded in the 2010 fiscal year, stemming from an agreement reached by the U.S. recorded music and music publishing industries, which resulted in the payment of mechanical royalties accrued in prior years by U.S. record companies. The decrease in mechanical revenues was partially offset by higher physical recorded music royalties earned primarily related to Michael Jackson, Susan Boyle and Michael Bublé. Synchronization revenue increases reflected an improvement in the advertising industry. Digital revenue increased $5 million due to the continued transition from physical to digital sales and the timing of collections. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Music Publishing revenues decreased $31 million, or 5%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

2009 vs. 2008

Music Publishing revenues decreased by $46 million, or 7%, to $582 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $628 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Prior to intersegment eliminations, Music Publishing revenues represented 18% of consolidated revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008. U.S. Music Publishing revenues were $242 million and $230 million, or 42% and 37% of Music Publishing revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. International Music Publishing revenues were $340 million and $398 million, or 58% and 63% of Music Publishing revenues for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively.

The decrease in Music Publishing revenues was due primarily to declines in mechanical revenues of $33 million and performance revenues of $17 million, which reflected the effects of the industry-wide decrease in physical sales and general economic pressures. The decrease in mechanical revenues was partially offset by a $25 million benefit from an agreement reached by the U.S. recorded music and music publishing industries, which resulted in the payment of mechanical royalties accrued in prior years by U.S. record companies. In addition, the decrease in mechanical and performance revenues was partially offset by an increase in digital revenues of $14 million as the transition from physical sales to digital sales continues. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign currency exchange rates, total Music Publishing revenues increased $3 million, or 1%, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

Music Publishing cost of revenues was composed of the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
     2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
       2010          2009          2008        $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

Artist and repertoire costs

   $ 334       $ 359       $ 400       $ (25     -7   $ (41     -10
                                               

Total cost of revenues

   $ 334       $ 359       $ 400       $ (25     -7   $ (41     -10
                                               

Cost of revenues

2010 vs. 2009

Music Publishing cost of revenues decreased by $25 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. Expressed as a percentage of Music Publishing revenues, Music Publishing cost of revenues decreased from 62% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 to 60% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. The decrease was driven primarily by revenue mix, an adjustment in royalty reserves and our continued focus to direct current and future spending on publishing deals that maximize profitability.

 

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2009 vs. 2008

Music Publishing cost of revenues decreased by $41 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Expressed as a percentage of Music Publishing revenues, Music Publishing cost of revenues decreased from 64% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008 to 62% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease was related to the decline in associated revenues, the change in revenue mix as different royalty rates apply to different revenue streams as well as our continued focus to efficiently direct current and future spending on publishing deals that maximize profitability.

Music Publishing selling, general and administrative expenses were comprised of the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
     2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
     2010      2009      2008      $ Change      % Change     $ Change     % Change  

General and administrative expense (1)

   $ 67       $ 60       $ 63       $ 7         12   $ (3     -5

Selling and marketing expense

     2         2         2         —           —          —          —     
                                                

Total selling, general and administrative expense

   $ 69       $ 62       $ 65       $ 7         11   $ (3     -5
                                                

 

(1) Includes depreciation expense of $4 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010, 2009 and 2008.

Selling, general and administrative expense

2010 vs. 2009

Music Publishing selling, general and administrative expense increased $7 million to $69 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $62 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 primarily as a result of increased professional fees and compensation expense. Expressed as a percentage of Music Publishing revenues, Music Publishing selling, general and administrative expense was 12% and 11% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

2009 vs. 2008

Music Publishing selling, general and administrative expense decreased $3 million to $62 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from $65 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Expressed as a percentage of Music Publishing revenues, Music Publishing selling, general and administrative expense was 11% and 10% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively.

OIBDA and Operating income from continuing operations

Music Publishing operating income from continuing operations includes the following amounts (in millions):

 

     For the Fiscal Years Ended
September 30,
    2010 vs. 2009     2009 vs. 2008  
       2010         2009         2008       $ Change     % Change     $ Change     % Change  

OIBDA

   $ 157      $ 165      $ 167      $ (8     -5   $ (2     -1

Depreciation and amortization expense

     (71     (68     (71     (3     4     3        -4
                                            

Operating income from continuing operations

   $ 86      $ 97      $ 96      $ (11     -11   $ 1        1
                                            

2010 vs. 2009

Music Publishing OIBDA decreased $8 million to $157 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from $165 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease in Music Publishing OIBDA

 

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was due primarily to a $2 million benefit recorded in the 2010 fiscal year, as compared with a $7 million benefit recorded in the 2009 fiscal year, stemming from an agreement reached by the U.S. recorded music and music publishing industries, which resulted in the payment of mechanical royalties accrued in prior years by U.S. record companies. Expressed as a percentage of Music Publishing revenues, Music Publishing OIBDA was flat at 28% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008.

Music Publishing operating income from continuing operations decreased by $11 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 due to the increase in depreciation and amortization expense and the decrease in OIBDA as noted above. Music Publishing operating income margin decreased to 15% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 from 17% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009.

2009 vs. 2008

Music Publishing OIBDA decreased $2 million to $165 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 as compared to $167 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. Expressed as a percentage of Music Publishing revenues, Music Publishing OIBDA was 28% and 27% for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The increase in OIBDA margin was primarily related to a $7 million OIBDA benefit from the agreement reached by the U.S. recorded music and music publishing industries noted above, which resulted in the payment of mechanical royalties accrued in prior years by U.S. record companies, as well as a reduction in cost of revenues as noted above.

Music Publishing operating income increased by $1 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 due to the decrease in depreciation and amortization expense offset by a slight decrease in OIBDA noted above. Music Publishing operating income margin increased to 17% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 from 15% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008.

Corporate Expenses and Eliminations

2010 vs. 2009

Our OIBDA loss from corporate expenses and eliminations decreased $12 million to $88 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, from $100 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease in OIBDA loss from corporate expenses and eliminations was primarily driven by our company-wide cost management efforts and lower professional fees.

Our operating loss from continuing operations from corporate expenses and eliminations decreased to $98 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, from $111 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease in operating loss from continuing operations was primarily driven by the decrease in corporate expenses noted above and amortization expense.

2009 vs. 2008

Our OIBDA loss from corporate expenses and eliminations decreased $3 million to $100 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009, compared to $103 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. The decrease in OIBDA loss from corporate expenses and eliminations was primarily driven by our company-wide cost management efforts.

Our operating loss from continuing operations from corporate expenses and eliminations decreased from $117 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008 to $111 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The decrease in operating loss from continuing operations was primarily driven by the decrease in corporate expenses noted above and decreased depreciation and amortization expense.

 

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FINANCIAL CONDITION AND LIQUIDITY

Financial Condition at September 30, 2010

At September 30, 2010, we had $1.945 billion of debt, $439 million of cash and equivalents (net debt of $1.506 billion, defined as total debt less cash and equivalents and short-term investments) and $265 million of shareholders’ deficit. At September 30, 2009, we had $1.939 billion of debt, $384 million of cash and equivalents (net debt of $1.555 billion, defined as total debt less cash and equivalents and short-term investments) and $143 million of shareholders’ deficit. Net debt decreased $49 million as a result of (i) a $55 million increase in cash and equivalents as more fully described below, (ii) a $4 million impact in foreign exchange rates on our Sterling-denominated Senior Subordinated Notes, offset by (iii) a $5 million increase related to the accretion on our Holdings Senior Discount Notes and (iv) a $5 million increase related to the accretion on our Senior Secured Notes.

Cash Flows

The following table summarizes our historical cash flows. The financial data for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, 2009 and 2008 have been derived from our audited financial statements included elsewhere herein.

 

Cash Provided By (Used In):

   For the Fiscal
Year Ended
September 30,
2010
    For the Fiscal
Year Ended
September 30,
2009
    For the Fiscal
Year Ended
September 30,
2008
 
     (in millions)  

Operating activities

   $ 150      $ 237      $ 304   

Investing activities

     (85     82        (167

Financing activities

     (3     (346     (59

Operating Activities

Cash provided by operations was $150 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 compared to $237 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. The $87 million decrease reflected the decrease in OIBDA, the increase in cash paid for severance and the expected increase in cash paid for interest of $60 million, partially offset by a decrease in cash paid for taxes.

The difference in cash paid for interest was as follows (in millions):

Summary of Cash Interest Payments

 

    Year Ended
September 30,
2010
    Year Ended
September 30,
2009
 

9.5% Senior Secured Notes due 2016—Acquisition Corp.  

  $ 110      $  —     

Senior secured credit facility—Acquisition Corp.  

    —          62   

7.375% U.S. dollar-denominated Notes due 2014—Acquisition Corp.  

    34        34   

8.125% Sterling-denominated Notes due 2014—Acquisition Corp.  

    13        13   

9.5% Senior Discount Notes due 2014—Holdings

    12        —     
               

Total cash interest payments

  $ 169      $ 109   
               

In May 2009, we issued the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes, which have semi-annual interest payments, and we repaid in full the senior secured credit facility, which had quarterly interest payments. In addition, on December 15, 2009, the Holdings Senior Discount Notes accreted to their full principal amount due

 

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at maturity. Thereafter, cash interest on the Holdings Senior Discount Notes became payable semi-annually, with the initial cash interest payment paid on June 15, 2010. This compared with only three quarterly cash interest payments under our senior secured credit facility during fiscal 2009.

Investing Activities

Cash used in investing activities was $85 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 as compared to cash provided by investing activities of $82 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Cash used in investing activities of $85 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 consisted of $51 million of capital expenditures primarily related to software infrastructure improvements, cash used of $36 million to acquire music publishing rights, cash used for acquisitions totaling $7 million, net of cash acquired, offset by $9 million of cash proceeds received in the connection with the sale of our equity investment in lala media, inc. Cash provided by investing activities of $82 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 consisted primarily of proceeds received from the sale of our remaining stake in Front Line Management to Ticketmaster for $123 million and proceeds from the sale of a building of $8 million offset by $27 million in capital expenditures, cash used for acquisitions totaling $16 million and $11 million of cash used to acquire music publishing rights.

Financing Activities

Cash used in financing activities was $3 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 compared to $346 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009. Cash used in financing activities of $3 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 consisted of distributions to our noncontrolling interest holders. Cash used in financing activities of $346 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 consisted of the full repayment of the senior credit facility of $1.371 billion, quarterly repayments of debt of $8 million, $23 million of financing fees related to the Senior Secured Notes and distributions to our noncontrolling interest holders of $3 million, offset by $1.059 billion of net proceeds from the issuance of the Senior Secured Notes.

Liquidity

Our primary sources of liquidity are the cash flows generated from our subsidiaries’ operations and available cash and equivalents and short-term investments. These sources of liquidity are needed to fund our debt service requirements, working capital requirements, capital expenditure requirements, strategic acquisitions and investments, and any dividends or repurchases of our outstanding notes or common stock in open market purchases, privately negotiated purchases or otherwise, we may elect to pay or make in the future. We believe that our existing sources of cash will be sufficient to support our existing operations over the next fiscal year.

As of September 30, 2010, our long-term debt consisted of $1.1 billion aggregate principal amount of Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes less unamortized discount of $35 million, $622 million of Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes and $258 million of Holdings Senior Discount Notes.

Senior Secured Notes

As of September 30, 2010, Acquisition Corp. had $1.065 billion of debt represented by the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes. The Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes were issued at 96.289% of their face value for total net proceeds of $1.059 billion, with an effective interest rate of 10.25%. The original issue discount (OID) was $41 million. The OID is equal to the difference between the stated principal amount and the issue price. The OID will be amortized over the term of the Senior Secured Notes using the effective interest rate method and reported as non-cash interest expense. The Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes mature on June 15, 2016 and bear interest payable semi-annually on June 15 and December 15 of each year at a fixed rate of 9.50% per annum.

 

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The Senior Secured Notes are senior secured obligations of Acquisition Corp. that rank senior in right of payment to Acquisition Corp.’s subordinated indebtedness, including its existing senior subordinated notes. The obligations under the Senior Secured Notes are fully and unconditionally guaranteed on a senior secured basis by each of Acquisition Corp.’s existing direct or indirect wholly owned U.S. subsidiaries and any such subsidiaries that guarantee other indebtedness of Acquisition Corp. in the future. The Senior Secured Notes are not guaranteed by Holdings. All obligations under the Senior Secured Notes and the guarantees of those obligations are secured by first-priority liens, subject to permitted liens, in the assets of Holdings, Acquisition Corp., and the subsidiary guarantors that previously secured our senior secured credit facility, which consist of the shares of Acquisition Corp., Acquisition Corp.’s assets and the assets of the subsidiary guarantors, except for certain excluded assets.

At any time prior to June 15, 2012, Acquisition Corp., at its option, may redeem up to 35% of the aggregate principal amount of the Senior Secured Notes at a redemption price of 109.50% of the principal amount of the Senior Secured Notes redeemed, plus accrued and unpaid interest with the proceeds of an Equity Offering, as defined in the indenture, provided that after such redemption at least 50% of the originally issued Senior Secured Notes remain outstanding. Prior to June 15, 2013, Acquisition Corp. may redeem some or all of the Senior Secured Notes at a price equal to 100% of the principal amount plus a make whole premium, as defined in the indenture. The Senior Secured Notes are also redeemable in whole or in part, at Acquisition Corp.’s option, at any time on or after June 15, 2013 for the following redemption prices, plus accrued and unpaid interest:

 

Twelve month period beginning June 15,

   Percentage  

2013

     104.750

2014

     102.375

2015 and thereafter

     100.000

Upon the consummation and closing of a Major Music/Media Transaction, as defined in the indenture, at any time prior to June 15, 2013, the Senior Secured Notes may be redeemed in whole or in part, at Acquisition Corp.’s option, at a redemption price of 104.75% plus accrued and unpaid interest. In the event of a change in control, as defined in the indenture, each holder of the Senior Secured Notes may require Acquisition Corp. to repurchase some or all of its respective Senior Secured Notes at a purchase price equal to 101% plus accrued and unpaid interest.

The indenture for the Senior Secured Notes contains a number of covenants that, among other things, limit (subject to certain exceptions), the ability of Acquisition Corp. and its restricted subsidiaries to (i) incur additional debt or issue certain preferred shares; (ii) pay dividends on or make distributions in respect of its capital stock or make other restricted payments (as defined in the indenture); (iii) make certain investments; (iv) sell certain assets; (v) create liens on certain debt; (vi) consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of its assets; (vii) sell or otherwise dispose of its Music Publishing business; (viii) enter into certain transactions with affiliates and (ix) designate its subsidiaries as unrestricted subsidiaries.

Acquisition Corp. used the net proceeds from the Senior Secured Notes offering, plus approximately $335 million in existing cash, to repay in full all amounts due under its senior secured credit facility and pay related fees and expenses. In connection with the repayment, Acquisition Corp. terminated its revolving credit facility.

Senior Subordinated Notes of Acquisition Corp.

Acquisition Corp. has outstanding two tranches of senior subordinated notes due in 2014: $465 million principal amount of U.S. dollar-denominated notes and £100 million principal amount of Sterling-denominated notes (collectively, the “Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes”). The Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes mature on April 15, 2014 and bear interest payable semi-annually on April 15 and October 15 of each year at a fixed rate of 7.375% per annum on the $465 million dollar notes and 8.125% per annum on the £100 million Sterling-denominated notes.

 

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The indenture governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes limits our ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to incur additional indebtedness or issue certain preferred shares; to pay dividends on or make other distributions in respect of our capital stock or make other restricted payments; to make certain investments; to sell certain assets; to create liens on certain debt without securing the notes; to consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of our assets; to enter into certain transactions with affiliates and to designate our subsidiaries as unrestricted subsidiaries. Subject to certain exceptions, the indenture governing the notes permits us and our restricted subsidiaries to incur additional indebtedness, including secured indebtedness, and to make certain restricted payments and investments.

Holdings Senior Discount Notes

As of September 30, 2010, Holdings had $258 million of debt represented by the Holdings Senior Discount Notes. The Holdings Senior Discount Notes were issued at a discount and had an initial accreted value of $630.02 per $1,000 principal amount at maturity. Prior to December 15, 2009, no cash interest payments accrued. However, interest accrued on the Holdings Senior Discount Notes in the form of an increase in the accreted value of such notes such that the accreted value of the Holdings Senior Discount Notes equaled the principal amount at maturity of $258 million on December 15, 2009. Thereafter, cash interest on the Holdings Senior Discount Notes is payable semi-annually on June 15 and December 15 of each year at a fixed rate of 9.5% per annum with the initial cash interest payment paid on June 15, 2010. The Holdings Senior Discount Notes mature on December 15, 2014.

The indenture governing the Holdings Senior Discount Notes limits our ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to incur additional indebtedness or issue certain preferred shares; to pay dividends on or make other distributions in respect of its capital stock or make other restricted payments; to make certain investments; to sell certain assets; to create liens on certain debt without securing the notes; to consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of its assets; to enter into certain transactions with affiliates; and to designate its subsidiaries as unrestricted subsidiaries. Subject to certain exceptions, the indenture governing the notes permits Holdings and its restricted subsidiaries to incur additional indebtedness, including secured indebtedness, and to make certain restricted payments and investments.

Dividends

We discontinued our previous policy of paying a regular quarterly dividend during the second quarter of fiscal year 2008. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on, among other things, our results of operations, cash requirements, financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors our Board of Directors may deem relevant.

Covenant Compliance

The indentures governing the Holdings Senior Discount Notes, the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes and the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes contain certain financial covenants, which limit the ability of our restricted subsidiaries as defined in the indentures governing the notes to, among other things, incur additional indebtedness, issue certain preferred shares, pay dividends, make certain investments, sell certain assets, create liens on certain debt, and consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all, or some of, our assets. In order for Acquisition Corp. and Holdings to incur additional debt or make certain restricted payments using certain exceptions provided for in the indentures governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes, the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes and Holdings Senior Discount Notes, the Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio, as defined in such indentures, must exceed a 2.0 to 1.0 ratio. The Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio is the ratio of EBITDA to Fixed Charges, as defined in the indentures. EBITDA, as defined in the indentures, is adjusted to add back certain non-cash, non-recurring and other items that are included in the definitions of EBITDA and consolidated net income in the indentures. Fixed Charges are defined in such indentures as consolidated interest expense excluding certain non-cash interest expense.

 

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The terms of the indentures governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes, the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes and Holdings Senior Discount Notes significantly restrict Acquisition Corp., Holdings and our other subsidiaries from paying dividends and otherwise transferring assets to us. For example, the ability of Acquisition Corp. and Holdings to make such payments is governed by a formula based on 50% of each of their consolidated net income (which, as defined in the indentures governing such notes, excludes goodwill impairment charges and any after-tax extraordinary, unusual or nonrecurring gains and losses) accruing from July 1, 2004 under the indentures governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes, the Holdings Senior Discount Notes, and July 1, 2009 under the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes, plus in each case proceeds from equity offerings and capital contributions, among other items. In addition, as a condition to making such payments to us based on such formula, Acquisition Corp. and Holdings must each have a Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio of at least 2.0 to 1.0 after giving effect to any such payments. Notwithstanding such restrictions, the indentures governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes, the Holdings Senior Discount Notes and the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes permit an aggregate of $45 million, $75 million and $50 million, respectively, of such payments to be made by Acquisition Corp. and Holdings pursuant to the indentures, whether or not there is availability under the formula or the conditions to its use are met. The indenture governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes also permits Acquisition Corp. to make restricted payments not to exceed $90 million in any fiscal year.

Acquisition Corp. and Holdings may make additional restricted payments using certain other exceptions provided for in the indentures governing the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes, the Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes and Holdings Senior Discount Notes. In addition, as of September 30, 2010, we had $176 million of cash at Warner Music Group Corp., which is unrestricted by any indenture covenants.

Summary

Management believes that funds generated from our operations will be sufficient to fund our debt service requirements, working capital requirements and capital expenditure requirements for the foreseeable future. We also have additional borrowing capacity under our indentures. However, our ability to continue to fund these items and to reduce debt may be affected by general economic, financial, competitive, legislative and regulatory factors, as well as other industry-specific factors such as the ability to control music piracy and the continued industry-wide decline of CD sales. We or any of our affiliates may also, from time to time depending on market conditions and prices, contractual restrictions, our financial liquidity and other factors, seek to repurchase our Holdings Senior Discount Notes, our Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes or our Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes and/or common stock in open market purchases, privately negotiated purchases or otherwise. The amounts involved in any such transactions, individually or in the aggregate, may be material and may be funded from available cash or from additional borrowings. In addition, we may from time to time, depending on market conditions and prices, contractual restrictions, our financial liquidity and other factors, seek to refinance our Holdings Senior Discount Notes, Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes and/or our Acquisition Corp. Senior Secured Notes with existing cash and/or with funds provided from additional borrowings.

 

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Contractual and Other Obligations

Firm Commitments

The following table summarizes the Company’s aggregate contractual obligations at September 30, 2010, and the estimated timing and effect that such obligations are expected to have on the Company’s liquidity and cash flow in future periods.

 

     Fiscal years      Total  

Firm Commitments and Outstanding Debt

   Less than
1 year
     1-3
years
     3-5
years
     After 5
years
    
     (in millions)  

Senior Secured Notes

   $ —         $ —         $ —         $ 1,100       $ 1,100   

Interest on Senior Secured Notes

     105         209         209         105         628   

Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes

     —           —           622         —           622   

Interest on Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes

     47         94         47         —           188   

Holdings Senior Discount Notes

     —           —           258         —           258   

Interest on Holdings Senior Discount Notes

     25         50         37         —           112   

Operating leases

     33         48         21         18         120   

Artist, songwriter and co-publisher commitments

     54         107         107         —           268   

Minimum funding commitments to investees and other obligations.

     3         3         —           —           6   
                                            

Total firm commitments and outstanding debt

   $ 267       $ 511       $ 1,301       $ 1,223       $ 3,302   
                                            

The following is a description of our firmly committed contractual obligations at September 30, 2010:

 

   

Outstanding debt obligations consist of the Senior Secured Notes, the Acquisition Corp. Senior Subordinated Notes and the Holdings Senior Discount Notes. These obligations have been presented based on the principal amounts due, current and long term as of September 30, 2010. Amounts do not include any fair value adjustments, bond premiums or discounts. See Note 12 to the audited financial statements for a description of our financing arrangements.

 

   

Operating lease obligations primarily relate to the minimum lease rental obligations for our real estate and operating equipment in various locations around the world. These obligations have been presented with the benefit of $3 million of sublease income expected to be received under non-cancelable agreements. The future minimum payments reflect the amounts owed under our lease arrangements and do not include any fair market value adjustments that may have been recorded as a result of the Acquisition.

 

   

We enter into long-term commitments with artists, songwriters and co-publishers for the future delivery of music product. Aggregate firm commitments to such talent approximated $268 million across hundreds of artists, songwriters, publishers, songs and albums at September 30, 2010. Such commitments, which are unpaid advances across multiple albums and songs, are payable principally over a ten-year period, generally upon delivery of albums from the artists or future musical compositions by songwriters and co-publishers. Because the timing of payment, and even whether payment occurs, is dependent upon the timing of delivery of albums and musical compositions from talent, the timing and amount of payment of these commitments as presented in the above summary can vary significantly.

 

   

We have minimum funding commitments and other related obligations to support the operations of various investments, which are reflected in the table above.

 

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MARKET RISK MANAGEMENT

We are exposed to market risk arising from changes in market rates and prices, including movements in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates.

Foreign Currency Risk

We have significant transactional exposure to changes in foreign currency exchange rates relative to the U.S. dollar due to the global scope of our operations. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, prior to intersegment elimination, approximately $1.754 billion, or 58%, of our revenues were generated outside of the U.S. The top five revenue-producing international countries are the U.K., Germany, Japan, France and Italy, which use the British pound sterling, Japanese yen and euro as currencies, respectively. See Note 19 to our audited financial statements included elsewhere herein for information on our operations in different geographical areas.

Historically, we have used (and continue to use) foreign exchange forward contracts, primarily to hedge the risk that unremitted or future royalties and license fees owed to our domestic companies for the sale, or anticipated sale, of U.S.-copyrighted products abroad may be adversely affected by changes in foreign currency exchange rates. In addition, we hedge foreign currency risk associated with financing transactions such as third-party and inter-company debt.

We focus on managing the level of exposure to the risk of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations on our major currencies, which include the euro, British pound sterling, Japanese yen, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona and Australian dollar. See Note 18 to our audited financial statements included elsewhere herein for additional information.

The Company also is exposed to foreign currency exchange rate risk with respect to its £100 million principal amount of Sterling-denominated notes that were issued in April 2004. These sterling notes mature on April 15, 2014. As of September 30, 2010, these sterling notes had a carrying value of $157 million. Based on the principal amount of Sterling-denominated notes outstanding as of September 30, 2010 and assuming that all other market variables are held constant (including the level of interest rates), a 10% weakening or strengthening of the U.S. dollar compared to the British pound sterling would not have an impact on the fair value of these sterling notes, since these notes are completely hedged as of September 30, 2010.

Interest Rate Risk

We have $1.945 billion debt outstanding at September 30, 2010. Based on the level of interest rates prevailing at September 30, 2010, the fair value of this fixed-rate debt was approximately $2.013 billion. Further, based on the amount of our fixed-rate debt, a 25 basis point increase or decrease in the level of interest rates would increase or decrease the fair value of the fixed-rate debt by approximately $18 million. This potential increase or decrease is based on the simplified assumption that the level of fixed-rate debt remains constant with an immediate across the board increase or decrease in the level of interest rates with no subsequent changes in rates for the remainder of the period.

We monitor our positions with, and the credit quality of, the financial institutions that are party to any of our financial transactions.

CRITICAL ACCOUNTING POLICIES

The SEC’s Financial Reporting Release No. 60, “Cautionary Advice Regarding Disclosure About Critical Accounting Policies” (“FRR 60”), suggests companies provide additional disclosure and commentary on those accounting policies considered most critical. FRR 60 considers an accounting policy to be critical if it is important to our financial condition and results, and requires significant judgment and estimates on the part of

 

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management in our application. We believe the following list represents critical accounting policies as contemplated by FRR 60. For a summary of all of our significant accounting policies, see Note 3 to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere herein.

Purchase Accounting

We account for our business acquisitions under the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) authoritative guidance for business combinations. The total cost of acquisitions is allocated to the underlying identifiable net assets based on their respective estimated fair values. The excess of the purchase price over the estimated fair values of the net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. Determining the fair value of assets acquired and liabilities assumed requires management’s judgment and often involves the use of significant estimates and assumptions, including assumptions with respect to future cash inflows and outflows, discount rates, asset lives and market multiples, among other items. In addition, reserves have been established on our balance sheet related to acquired liabilities and qualifying restructuring costs based on assumptions made at the time of acquisition. We evaluate these reserves on a regular basis to determine the adequacy or accuracy of the amounts estimated.

Accounting for Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets

We account for our goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets as required by FASB Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 350, Intangibles—Goodwill and other (“ASC 350”). Under ASC 350, we no longer amortize goodwill, including the goodwill included in the carrying value of investments accounted for using the equity method of accounting, and certain other intangible assets deemed to have an indefinite useful life. ASC 350 requires that goodwill and certain intangible assets be assessed for impairment using fair value measurement techniques on an annual basis and when events occur that may suggest that the fair value of such assets cannot support the carrying value. Goodwill impairment is tested using a two-step process. The first step of the goodwill impairment test is used to identify potential impairment by comparing the fair value of a reporting unit with its net book value (or carrying amount), including goodwill.

In performing the first step, management determines the fair value of its reporting units using a combination of a discounted cash flow (“DCF”) analysis and a market-based approach. Determining fair value requires significant judgment concerning the assumptions used in the valuation model, including discount rates, the amount and timing of expected future cash flows and, growth rates, as well as relevant comparable company earnings multiples for the market-based approach including the determination of whether a premium or discount should be applied to those comparables. The cash flows employed in the DCF analyses are based on management’s most recent budgets and business plans and when applicable, various growth rates have been assumed for years beyond the current business plan periods. Any forecast contains a degree of uncertainty and modifications to these cash flows could significantly increase or decrease the fair value of a reporting unit. For example, if revenue from sales of physical products continues to decline and the revenue from sales of digital products does not continue to grow as expected and we are unable to adjust costs accordingly, it could have a negative impact on future impairment tests. In determining which discount rate to utilize, management determines the appropriate weighted average cost of capital (“WACC”) for each reporting unit. Management considers many factors in selecting a WACC, including the market view of risk for each individual reporting unit, the appropriate capital structure and the appropriate borrowing rates for each reporting unit. The selection of a WACC is subjective and modification to this rate could significantly increase or decrease the fair value of a reporting unit.

If the fair value of a reporting unit exceeds its carrying amount, goodwill of the reporting unit is considered not impaired and the second step of the impairment test is unnecessary. If the carrying amount of a reporting unit exceeds its fair value, the second step of the goodwill impairment test is performed to measure the amount of impairment loss, if any. The second step of the goodwill impairment test compares the implied fair value of the reporting unit’s goodwill with the carrying amount of that goodwill. If the carrying amount of the reporting unit’s

 

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goodwill exceeds the implied fair value of that goodwill, an impairment loss is recognized in an amount equal to that excess. The implied fair value of goodwill is determined in the same manner as the amount of goodwill recognized in a business combination. That is, the fair value of the reporting unit is allocated to all of the assets and liabilities of that unit (including any unrecognized intangible assets) as if the reporting unit had been acquired in a business combination and the fair value of the reporting unit was the purchase price paid to acquire the reporting unit.

As of September 30, 2010, we had recorded goodwill in the amount of $1.057 billion, primarily related to the Acquisition (as defined). We test our goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment on an annual basis in the fourth quarter of each fiscal year. The performance of our fiscal 2010 impairment analyses did not result in any impairments of the Company’s goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets. The discount rates utilized in the fiscal 2010 analysis ranged from 9% to 10% while the terminal growth rates used in the DCF analysis ranged from 2% to 5%. To illustrate the magnitude of a potential impairment relative to future changes in estimated fair values, had the fair values of each of the reporting units been hypothetically lower by 40% at September 30, 2010, no reporting unit’s book value would have exceeded its fair value. The percentage by which the fair value of each reporting unit exceeded the respective carrying value was as follows:

 

Reporting Unit

  

Percentage by
which Fair
Value Exceeded
Carrying Value

U.S. Recorded Music

   Greater than 50%

International Recorded Music

   Greater than 200%

Publishing

   Greater than 50%

The impairment test for other intangible assets not subject to amortization involves a comparison of the estimated fair value of the intangible asset with its carrying value. If the carrying value of the intangible asset exceeds its fair value, an impairment loss is recognized in an amount equal to that excess. The estimates of fair value of intangible assets not subject to amortization are determined using a DCF valuation analysis. Common among such approaches is the “relief from royalty” methodology, which is used in estimating the fair value of the Company’s trademarks. Discount rate assumptions are based on an assessment of the risk inherent in the projected future cash flows generated by the respective intangible assets. Also subject to judgment are assumptions about royalty rates, which are based on the estimated rates at which similar trademarks are being licensed in the marketplace.

See Note 9 to our audited consolidated financial statements contained in our annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010 for a further discussion of our goodwill and other intangible assets.

Revenue and Cost Recognition

Sales Returns and Uncollectible Accounts

In accordance with practice in the recorded music industry and as customary in many territories, certain products (such as CDs and DVDs) are sold to customers with the right to return unsold items. Under FASB ASC Topic 605, Revenue Recognition, revenues from such sales are recognized when the products are shipped based on gross sales less a provision for future estimated returns.

In determining the estimate of product sales that will be returned, management analyzes historical returns, current economic trends, changes in customer demand and commercial acceptance of our products. Based on this information, management reserves a percentage of each dollar of product sales to provide for the estimated customer returns.

Similarly, management evaluates accounts receivables to determine if they will ultimately be collected. In performing this evaluation, significant judgments and estimates are involved, including an analysis of specific

 

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risks on a customer-by-customer basis for larger accounts and customers, and a receivables aging analysis that determines the percent that has historically been uncollected by aged category. Based on this information, management provides a reserve for the estimated amounts believed to be uncollectible.

Based on management’s analysis of sales returns and uncollectible accounts, reserves totaling $111 million and $135 million were established at September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2009, respectively. The ratio of our receivable allowances to gross accounts receivables was approximately 20% at both September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2009.

Gross Versus Net Revenue Classification

In the normal course of business, we act as an intermediary or agent with respect to certain payments received from third parties. For example, we distribute music product on behalf of third-party record labels.

The accounting issue encountered in these arrangements is whether we should report revenue based on the “gross” amount billed to the ultimate customer or on the “net” amount received from the customer after participation and other royalties paid to third parties. To the extent revenues are recorded gross (in the full amount billed), any participations and royalties paid to third parties are recorded as expenses so that the net amount (gross revenues, less expenses) flows through operating income. Accordingly, the impact on operating income is the same, whether we record the revenue on a gross basis or net basis (less related participations and royalties).

Determining whether revenue should be reported gross or net is based on an assessment of whether we are acting as the “principal” in a transaction or acting as an “agent” in the transaction. To the extent we are acting as a principal in a transaction, we report as revenue the payments received on a gross basis. To the extent we are acting as an agent in a transaction, we report as revenue the payments received less participations and royalties paid to third parties, i.e., on a net basis. The determination of whether we are serving as principal or agent in a transaction is judgmental in nature and based on an evaluation of the terms of an arrangement.

In determining whether we serve as principal or agent in these arrangements, we follow the guidance in FASB ASC Subtopic 605-45, Principal Agent Considerations (“ASC 605-45”). Pursuant to such guidance, we serve as the principal in transactions where we have the substantial risks and rewards of ownership. The indicators that we have substantial risks and rewards of ownership are as follows:

 

   

we are the supplier of the products or services to the customer;

 

   

we have latitude in establishing prices;

 

   

we have the contractual relationship with the ultimate customer;

 

   

we modify and service the product purchased to meet the ultimate customer specifications;

 

   

we have discretion in supplier selection; and

 

   

we have credit risk.

Conversely, pursuant to ASC 605-45, we serve as agent in arrangements where we do not have substantial risks and rewards of ownership. The indicators that we do not have substantial risks and rewards of ownership are as follows:

 

   

the supplier (not the Company) is responsible for providing the product or service to the customer;

 

   

the supplier (not the Company) has latitude in establishing prices;

 

   

the amount we earn is fixed;

 

   

the supplier (not the Company) has credit risk; and

 

   

the supplier (not the Company) has general inventory risk for a product before it is sold.

 

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Based on the above criteria and for the more significant transactions that we have evaluated, we record the distribution of product on behalf of third-party record labels on a gross basis, subject to the terms of the contract. However, recorded music compilations distributed by other record companies where we have a right to participate in the profits are recorded on a net basis.

Accounting for Royalty Advances

We regularly commit to and pay royalty advances to our recording artists and songwriters in respect of future sales. We account for these advances under the related guidance in FASB ASC Topic 928, Entertainment—Music (“ASC 928”). Under ASC 928, we capitalize as assets certain advances that we believe are recoverable from future royalties to be earned by the recording artist or songwriter. Advances vary in both amount and expected life based on the underlying recording artist or songwriter. Advances to recording artists or songwriters with a history of successful commercial acceptability will typically be larger than advances to a newer or unproven recording artist or songwriter. In addition, in most cases these advances represent a multi-album release or multi-song obligation and the number of albums releases and songs will vary by recording artist or songwriter.

Management’s decision to capitalize an advance to a recording artist or songwriter as an asset requires significant judgment as to the recoverability of the advance. The recoverability is assessed upon initial commitment of the advance based upon management’s forecast of anticipated revenue from the sale of future and existing albums or songs. In determining whether the advance is recoverable, management evaluates the current and past popularity of the recording artist or songwriter, the sales history of the recording artist or songwriter, the initial or expected commercial acceptability of the product, the current and past popularity of the genre of music that the product is designed to appeal to, and other relevant factors. Based upon this information, management expenses the portion of any advance that it believes is not recoverable. In most cases, advances to recording artists or songwriters without a history of success and evidence of current or past popularity will be expensed immediately. Advances are individually assessed for recoverability continuously and at minimum on a quarterly basis. As part of the ongoing assessment of recoverability, we monitor the projection of future sales based on the current environment, the recording artist’s or songwriter’s ability to meet their contractual obligations as well as our intent to support future album releases or songs from the recording artist or songwriter. To the extent that a portion of an outstanding advance is no longer deemed recoverable, that amount will be expensed in the period the determination is made.

We had $332 million and $380 million of advances in our balance sheet at September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2009, respectively. We believe such advances are recoverable through future royalties to be earned by the applicable recording artists and songwriters.

Stock-Based Compensation

We account for share-based payments in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 718, Compensation—Stock Compensation (“ASC 718”). ASC 718 requires all share-based payments to employees, including grants of employee stock options, to be recognized as compensation expense based on their fair value. Under this fair value recognition provision of ASC 718, stock-based compensation cost is measured at the grant date based on the fair value of the award and is recognized as expense over the vesting period. We have applied the modified prospective method and expenses deferred stock-based compensation on an accelerated basis over the vesting period of the stock award.

We estimate the fair value of our grants made using the binomial method, which includes assumptions related to volatility, expected life, dividend yield and risk-free interest rate. We also award or sell restricted shares to our employees. For restricted shares awarded or sold below market value, the accounting charge is measured at the grant date and amortized ratably as non-cash compensation over the vesting term.

 

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Accounting for Income Taxes

As part of the process of preparing the consolidated financial statements, we are required to estimate income taxes payable in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate. This process involves estimating the actual current tax expense together with assessing temporary differences resulting from differing treatment of items for tax and accounting purposes. These differences result in deferred tax assets and liabilities, which are included within our consolidated balance sheets. FASB ASC Topic 740, Income Taxes (“ASC 740”), requires a valuation allowance be established when it is more likely than not that all or a portion of deferred tax assets will not be realized. In circumstances where there is sufficient negative evidence, establishment of a valuation allowance must be considered. We believe that cumulative losses in the most recent three-year period generally represent sufficient negative evidence to consider a valuation allowance under the provisions of ASC 740. As a result, we determined that certain of our deferred tax assets required the establishment of a valuation allowance.

The realization of the remaining deferred tax assets is primarily dependent on forecasted future taxable income. Any reduction in estimated forecasted future taxable income may require that we record additional valuation allowances against our deferred tax assets on which a valuation allowance has not previously been established. The valuation allowance that has been established will be maintained until there is sufficient positive evidence to conclude that it is more likely than not that such assets will be realized. An ongoing pattern of profitability will generally be considered as sufficient positive evidence. Our income tax expense recorded in the future may be reduced to the extent of offsetting decreases in our valuation allowance. The establishment and reversal of valuation allowances could have a significant negative or positive impact on our future earnings.

Tax assessments may arise several years after tax returns have been filed. Predicting the outcome of such tax assessments involves uncertainty; however, we believe that recorded tax liabilities adequately account for our analysis of more likely than not outcomes.

New Accounting Principles

In addition to the critical accounting policies discussed above, we adopted several new accounting policies during the past two years. None of these new accounting principles had a material effect on our audited financial statements. See Note 3 to our audited financial statements included elsewhere herein for a complete summary.

 

ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

As discussed in Note 18 to our audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, the Company is exposed to market risk arising from changes in market rates and prices, including movements in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates. As of September 30, 2010, other than as described below, there have been no material changes to the Company’s exposure to market risk since September 30, 2009.

We have transactional exposure to changes in foreign currency exchange rates relative to the U.S. dollar due to the global scope of our operations. We use foreign exchange contracts, primarily to hedge the risk that unremitted or future royalties and license fees owed to our domestic companies for the sale, or anticipated sale, of U.S.-copyrighted products abroad may be adversely affected by changes in foreign currency exchange rates. We focus on managing the level of exposure to the risk of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations on our major currencies, which include the British pound sterling, euro, Japanese yen, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona and Australian dollar. During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, the Company entered into foreign exchange hedge contracts and, as of September 30, 2010, the Company has outstanding hedge contracts for the sale of $180 million and the purchase of $73 million of foreign currencies at fixed rates. Subsequent to September 30, 2010, certain of our foreign exchange contracts expired and were renewed with new foreign exchange contracts with similar features.

The fair value of foreign exchange contracts is subject to changes in foreign currency exchange rates. For the purpose of assessing the specific risks, we use a sensitivity analysis to determine the effects that market risk

 

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exposures may have on the fair value of our financial instruments. For foreign exchange forward contracts outstanding at September 30, 2010, assuming a hypothetical 10% depreciation of the U.S dollar against foreign currencies from prevailing foreign currency exchange rates and assuming no change in interest rates, the fair value of the foreign exchange forward contracts would have decr