The ups and downs of the international currency markets can make reporting on financial results something of a headache.
Witness Billboard’s coverage of Sony Music’s latest financials for an example. On the pure figures as they were announced in yen, Sony Music’s quarterly revenues fell by 1.8% from ¥181.8bn in the final quarter of 2015 to ¥178.5bn.
Yet with the yen strongly appreciating against the dollar, Sony claimed that on a constant currency basis, sales were actually up by 4%.
Meanwhile, Billboard has its own methodology (“Since Sony is based in Japan and Sony Music Entertainment is based in the US”) suggesting a 10.9% rise year-on-year. Clear as mud, then.
Sticking with the yen figures for now, Sony said that its recorded-music division’s sales fell from ¥311.5bn in the final quarter of 2015 to ¥294.3bn a year later, with digital now 50.2% of those revenues. Sony’s streaming income grew by 31.4% year-on-year to ¥102.8bn yen – 34.9% of the company’s overall recorded-music revenue.
Meanwhile, on the publishing side, Sony/ATV’s revenues fell from ¥52.3bn in the final quarter of 2015 to ¥46.8bn in the final quarter of 2016. But again, those currency fluctuations and the global nature of Sony’s music businesses mean you can tell a more positive or negative story about all this.
MBW’s calculation that Sony Music earned $1.2bn from streaming in 2016 as a whole is a fun data point to riff on though.