Total revenue off 14% from prior-year quarter

Reflecting sagging sales during the holiday season, Warner Music Group’s revenue and income declined steeply during the fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31.

Total revenue of $789 million was off 14% from the prior-year quarter. Digital revenue of $187 million, representing 24% of WMG’s total revenue, crept up 2% from $184 million in the same quarter in 2009 but fell 5% from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

Operating income of $27 million dropped from $47 million in the prior-year quarter; figure included $11 million in severance charges, all in recorded music (vs. $5 million in the prior-year quarter).

WMG tracked a net loss of $18 million.

The recorded music division reported revenue of $673 million, down 14% from the prior-year quarter. Domestic recorded music declined 9.5% to $257 million, whileinternational recorded music plummeted 16.6% to $416 million.

Top sellers for the company during the period included Josh Groban, Michael Buble, James Blunt, Kid Rock and Bruno Mars.

Revenue from WMG’s Warner/Chappell publishing arm dropped 14.9% from the prior-year quarter to $120 million.

WMG chairman-CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. said in a statement: “While industry pressures and a highly competitive release schedule limited our results in the first quarter, we’re confident that our disciplined A&R investments, successful revenue diversification and innovative digital strategies will drive WMG’s long-term growth.”

Figures come in the wake of reports last month that WMG had enlisted Goldman Sachs to explore both a potential sale of some or all of its assets and a possible acquisition of EMI Music from Citigroup.

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