While he was appointed chief of Sony Music’s combined operations just two weeks ago, Rob Stringer’s first earnings report for the division is a strong one: Sony Music Entertainment’s operating income is up 18% and revenue up 11% year-over-year in the first fiscal quarter of 2019. The results were released as part of Sony’s overall earnings report.
Breaking down the divisions, the company’s recorded-music operation’s revenue was up over 11% and its streaming revenue soared some 27% over 2018. The main drivers for the division were Lil Nas X, Khalid, Pink, Bruce Springsteen, Travis Scott, Chris Brown, Vampire Weekend and Luke Combs.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing — which is now under Stringer’s domain as well — saw a boost of some 80%, although that comes with an asterisk: It was the first quarter that the company was consolidated with EMI Music Publishing, which it fully acquired in 2018. While there is no apples-to-apples comparison for the company’s improvement year over year, a source close to the situation estimated that the company’s growth was slightly more than that of the recorded-music division; it also noted that the gains were offset by a decline in Sony’s games operation.
The report was a welcome change for the company, particularly for recorded-music, which weathered a less-than-rosy 2018 as the division’s revenues dropped around 4.5% for the year and revenue rose just 1%. Streaming was up for 2018 just 15.3% — compared with 37% the previous year — but the past quarter was presumably driven in no small part by Lil Nas X’s massive hit “Old Town Road,” which this week broke the record for the greatest number of weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with 17, breaking the record set by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” and tied by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” (featuring Justin Bieber).