Universal Music Group Valued at $53 Billion in New Goldman Sachs Report

Goldman Sachs’ annual “Music in the Air” study is widely recognized in the music industry as an optimistic but authoritative survey of the business — and yet again, it will make Universal Music Group very happy, as it has valued the company at a whopping $53 billion ahead of its IPO, expected this fall.

That’s up from the $36 billion posited in last year’s report, and shows the strength of the recorded-music and publishing businesses, which are primary among UMG’s many properties, despite the pandemic that has flattened other sectors of the industry, particularly live entertainment (which Goldman projects will climb to $12.7 billion this year, from a dismal $4.8 billion in 2020, but obviously there are many variables involved).

The report, authored by Goldman analyst Lisa Yang (and as noted by Music Business Worldwide), also not surprisingly projects that the gold rush around catalogs and intellectual property will go on, even though some are positing that the values have begun to plateau: “The value of music catalogues will continue to increase, attracting ever more capital into the space.”

Despite that, the music-publishing business has been hit hard by plummeting performance royalties due to the pandemic, will see just a modest rise in revenues, to $6.2 billion from $6.0 billion in 2020.

The report states that the shift to streaming will continue. “We anticipate a faster shift to music streaming and greater monetization of music content from new formats (e.g. short-form video, connected fitness, gaming, etc.), a trend that has been further accelerated by the pandemic,” and predicts that “Amazon, YouTube and Tencent Music [will be] the major share gainers” in the streaming battles to come. It also projects that the three major music companies, UMG, Sony and Warner, “will hold their dominant positions but face some market share dilution amid the rise of entry-level and mid-tier artists.”

And the hits just keep on coming: The report projects that revenues of the worldwide recorded-music business will be up nearly $2 billion, from $21.6 billion in 2020 to $23.5 billion this year, with streaming up $3 billion in gross revenue to $21.1 billion.

The streaming market looks bullish, with the report projecting that global streaming subscribers will climb to 527 million this year, from 443 million in 2020 — and 697 million in 2023, and more than 1.2 billion by 2030. It should be noted, however, that many of these new subscribers will come from new markets, where subscriptions cost substantially less than they do in the U.S. and Europe (which have begun to see price increases in recent months).

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