×

Warner Music Group Sells Its Entire Stake in Spotify

UPDATED: In its earnings call on Tuesday morningWarner Music Group announced that it has now sold its entire stake in Spotify, realizing $504 million.

CEO Steve Cooper said that the sale resulted in $126 million “credited to artist accounts on their June 30 royalty statements which are issued around the world in August and September.” A rep confirmed that distributed labels are included in that amount, if their deal terms call for it.

“In February 2016, we were the first major to announce a policy to share proceeds from equity in streaming services with artists,” Cooper noted. However, Music Business Worldwide reports that unlike Sony Music, which is also sharing proceeds from the sale of its Spotify equity, Warner is not overlooking artists’ and labels’ unrecouped balances, which means that the proceeds could go not directly to the artist but to Warner as part of the recoupment of an artist’s advance and/or other label expenses. A rep for WMG did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment or confirmation on that matter.

Of the other three label groups, Sony Music sold approximately 50% of its shares for an estimated $750 million, the company revealed in a public filing in May, while independent label collective Merlin sold 100% of its shares for an amount estimated at upward of $125 million and immediately distributed the earnings to its members. Universal Music Group has not sold its shares, perhaps in anticipation of parent company Vivendi’s plan to sell 50% of that business unit.

Cooper spoke about the strength of streaming services and also responded to a question about reports of Spotify doing direct deals with major artists. “While Apple and Spotify continue to grow their global subscriber numbers, Amazon and YouTube are both off to a great start with their premium services,” he said. “This increased competition is good news for our business, and we’re happy to see other large tech companies, such as Facebook, begin to recognize the true value that music brings to their platforms.

“We believe it’s hugely positive that, in today’s world, artists and songwriters have more choice, as well as more control over their careers,” he continued, while also noting that Warner is “one of the few companies that can offer artists and songwriters global impact across all platforms, services and geographies.”

So why get out now? When announcing the company’s initial sale of 75% of its Spotify equity earlier this year, Cooper was quick to note that the company’s decision does not reflect a lack of confidence in Spotify’s future. “Just so there won’t be any misinterpretation about the rationale for our decision to sell, let me be clear:  We’re a music company, and not, by our nature, long-term holders of publicly traded equity,” he said. “This sale has nothing to do with our view of Spotify’s future. We’re hugely optimistic about the growth of subscription streaming, we know it has only just begun to fulfill its potential for global scale. We fully expect Spotify to continue to play a major role in that growth.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Mass Appeal and Universal Launch Hip-Hop

    Nas, Mass Appeal and Universal Music Launch Hip-Hop Label in India, Sign Divine

    Mass Appeal and Universal Music Group today announced the launch of Mass Appeal India – a new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale. The new label’s operations will be based Universal Music India’s headquarters in Mumbai and will function as a multi-channel partnership between the two companies. According to the announcement, Mass Appeal India will sign and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, center, arrives to court

    Weinstein's Attorneys Seek to Move Trial to Long Island or Albany

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys want his rape trial moved to Long Island or Albany, citing the “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding the courthouse in Manhattan. Weinstein is set to go on trial on Sept. 9 on five charges of rape and sexual assault. The disgraced producer faces a potential life term if convicted. In a motion to the [...]

  • AtmosphereThe Current State of Play in

    New York’s PlayStation Theater to Close (EXCLUSIVE)

    New York’s PlayStation Theater, a 2,100-capacity venue located in Times Square and operated by Bowery Presents, will close at the end of 2019, a source close to the situation tells Variety. The venue will close with a New Year’s series of shows from the Disco Biscuits. The theater, which is located two stories beneath the [...]

  • Courtesy of Earwolf

    How Lauren Lapkus Tossed the Script and Created a Podcasting Hit

    Lauren Lapkus has tossed the script on what makes most podcasts a hit. At a time when many of the most downloaded shows are true crime investigations or celebrity interviews, she’s doing something entirely different on each episode of “With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus.” Each hour-long installment is a free-wheeling, completely improvised ride. One show [...]

  • WWE NXT

    WWE's 'NXT' Moves to USA Network as Wrestling Competition Heats Up

    WWE has struck a deal to move its “NXT” franchise focusing on rising stars to USA Network starting next month. “NXT” will shift to USA from the WWE Network subscription streaming service as of Sept. 18. The deal comes as USA is about to lose WWE’s “SmackDown” showcase to Fox starting in October. USA is [...]

  • Shazam

    Apple Music Launches 'Shazam Discovery' Chart, Focused on New Artists

    Apple Music today launched the “Shazam Discovery Top 50,” a weekly, global ranking of 50 artists that it describes as “on the move and trending” — in other words, new and emerging artists. While the company wouldn’t say much specifically about how the chart is tabulated, it uses “Shazam’s proprietary algorithms [to offer] a unique predictive view [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content