Warner Music’s 2014 financials show streaming growth, but marginalized publishing revenue

Warner Music Group posted its financial report for the year ending Sept. 30, and the results included some impressive figures related to streaming. The company’s revenue rose 5.2% to $3.02 billion, it’s highest number since 2009. That total was bolstered by an increase of $150 million in revenue from recording streaming music (not counting the acquisition of the Parlaphone label), while Warner’s publishing division saw a jump of $15 million in streaming revenues. Last year, the total recorded music streaming revenue increased $75 million and publishing revenue increased $6 million. The company only revealed the increases, not the total revenue for either period.

These are intriguing results on two levels. First, there’s the vastly larger increase Warner reported for its streaming revenue for the most recent year. It’s the latest industry data to confirm that streaming platforms are contributing meaningfully to music industry finances. (See also the RIAA’s latest financial report here.)

Second, it highlights one part of music industry critiques about streaming: the disparity between the publishing and recorded music revenue. Streaming platforms are indeed paying out large sums for the rights to music, but songwriters are receiving a small percentage of that total amount. Especially on the heels of Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier’s call for fairer songwriter royalties, the WMG financial results confirm that reality.

Anna Washenko