Warner Music is the smallest of the world's three remaining music groups, with labels including Atlantic, Elektra, Sire and now Parlophone. For 2018, it had 16% share of the global recorded music market. It has traditionally been strongest in the US market, with rock music rather than pop. That changed somewhat with the 2013 break-up of EMI, from whom WMG acquired the UK-based Parlophone label group. In 2017, Ed Sheeran - a Parlophone signing - was the world's top-selling artist by unit volumes, and he was the #3 in 2018. Bruno Mars was also among the Top 10. Other top WMG acts include Lizzo, Mariya Takeuchi, Slipknot, Cardi B, Meek Mill, Dua Lipa and also the soundtrack album for The Greatest Showman movie. Back catalogue artists include Prince, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, James Blunt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors, Paul Simon, Coldplay, Van Morrison, REM and Eric Clapton. The company claims to have more albums than any other major label on the list of the US top 100 best-sellers of all time, including four of the top five. Publishing division Warner/Chappell Music is the world's #3 music publisher, with share of 12% in 2018. Steve Cooper is group CEO. Combined revenues for the year to Nov 2019 hit a new high of almost $4.5bn, including $2.6bn from digital sales. Streaming alone contributed $2.1bn. Net income was $258m. Warner Music was originally conceived in 1929 as a vehicle to acquire music copyrights for use in Warner Bros Pictures, and it began to issue movie soundtracks in the 1950s. In the 1960s it was combined with the legendary jazz and blues label Atlantic and rock/folk label Elektra to form WEA, eventually becoming an unhappy subsidiary of Time Warner. As the state of the music industry declined, Warner spent the first decade of the 2000s attempting to bulk up in a succession of fruitless merger negotiations with Bertelsmann's BMG or EMI. Time Warner eventually sold the business to former Seagram boss Edgar Bronfman; he in turn sold it on in 2011 to Russian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik for $3.3bn. In 2020 the group announced plans to issue an IPO of part of its stock.
Capsule checked 7th March 2019
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Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Dec 2015: The same media streaming revolution which prompted the rise of Netflix continues to reshape the far more volatile music industry, which has undergone a never-ending series of revolutions over the past decade. Warner Music, smallest of the big three music groups, reported results for the year ending Sept 2015 and disclosed that streaming will soon be its biggest revenue source. CEO Stephen Cooper said "2015 was our first fiscal year in which our recorded music streaming revenue exceeded download revenue, and it did so by a significant amount." Yet that has done little to boost performance, since much of the streaming market is still - for the time being at least - offered for free. Warner Music revenues slipped 2% to $2.97bn, though net losses narrowed from $303m in the preceding year to $88m. Digital accounted for 44% of global revenues, but almost 59% in the US.
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