Streaming accounted for 52% of Universal Music’s digital recorded-music revenues in the second half of 2015, according to financial results published by its parent company Vivendi.
Universal’s subscriptions and streaming income was up 43% to €954m in 2015, while its download revenues fell by 13% for the year as a whole.
Streaming’s growth fuelled Universal’s overall performance, which saw the company’s annual revenues rise by 2.7% in 2015 to €5.11bn ($5.66bn), including a 2.4% rise for recorded-music revenues to €4.11bn, and 3% growth to €756m for its publishing income – the latter also “largely thanks to streaming and subscription growth”.
One line in the accounts notes that “revenues also benefitted from legal settlements” without breaking that income out.
It’s the digital growth that will be most encouraging for Universal though: in 2014, its digital recorded-music revenues fell by 0.4% at constant perimeter and constant currency, while in 2015 they grew by 8.6%.
Streaming is paying off for the world’s largest label group, then, even if that growth does not scotch the debate about how that income is making its way through to artists and songwriters.
Elsewhere in Universal’s business, the company admitted it has work to do outside its key markets. The label admitted that around 75% of its revenues come from just five countries: the US, Japan, Germany, UK and France.
Just 3% currently come from the BRICS markets: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. “Music is not well monetised in non-traditional markets,” as the financials document put it.
Vivendi is also keen for more internal partnerships, picking out mobile games publisher Gameloft – in which it has a 29.8% stake – as a potential partner for Universal Music to develop new game franchises.
There have been notable misfires in the music/mobile gaming crossover, most recently with Glu Mobile’s flop game for Katy Perry. We’ll be interested to see whether Gameloft can do better with some Universal artists.