Q1 2022 saw strong revenue growth for UMG, HYBE and Believe


Spotify’s first-quarter financial results gave us an insight into how the streaming market is growing on the DSPs side – as well as investors’ concerns that this growth may be about to take a significant wobble.

Now it’s time to gauge the picture for the music companies who are being paid by those DSPs. Judging by UMG, HYBE and Believe’s financials, that picture is still a rosy one.

UMG’s Q1 2022 revenues were up 21.6% year-on-year to €2.2bn ($2.31bn) including 16% growth for recorded music revenues (to €1.72bn) and 38.4% growth for publishing revenues (to €375m). Publishing may have been just 17.1% of UMG’s overall business in Q1, but a growth rate more than double recorded music is noteworthy.

UMG’s subscription and streaming revenue from recorded music grew by 19.9% to €1.21bn, with the rise in subscriptions (18.3%) lagging behind the growth in ‘streaming’ (i.e ad-supported) at 25.1%. UMG’s physical recorded music revenues continue to arc upward too, with 11.3% growth to €237m – albeit that’s just 13.8% of the total.

Also worth noting: UMG boss Lucian Grainge offering his own pushback on worries that Netflix’s subscriber blip might cross over to music streaming services too. “You can play Billie Eilish 50 times in 48 hours, but you can’t watch a television program 50 times in 48 hours,” suggested Grainge.

UMG also unveiled its latest deal expansion with a frontline star: Drake. Covering recordings, publishing, merch and ‘visual media projects’, a figure of $400m is doing the rounds in the trade press.

HYBE and Believe’s figures offer more context on how streaming growth is paying off for music companies. The K-Pop giant’s Q1 revenues of KRW 285bn ($225.2m) were up by 59.8% year-on-year, although a 5% quarter-on-quarter dip in monthly active users of its WeVerse social platform may be a concern. With a new BTS album to come on 10 June, 2022 is already looking bright.

Finally, on the distribution side of the business, Believe saw its Q1 revenues grow by 30.9% to €162.5m ($171m) including 30.7% growth for its ‘premium solutions’ business and 33.6% for its ‘automated solutions’ (i.e. TuneCore) business.

One talking point is the growing importance to Believe of the Asia-Pacific and Africa regions. A year ago, they were 20.6% of the company’s overall revenues, but in Q1 2022 the two regions (which are combined in its financial reporting) accounted for 24.7%. One concern: around €50m of Believe’s revenues in 2021 came from Russia and Ukraine, with a 30-40% drop forecast for this year as a result of the ongoing war.

Written by: Stuart Dredge