Thanks to the rise of streaming, 2016 was a strong year for all three major labels, but particularly for Warner Music Group. The "We're #3!" major music group not only had profitable quarters, it grew its global market share, WMG CEO Steve Cooper celebrated the year with a letter to his staff.
From CEO Steve Cooper
Thanks to all your hard work, it’s been a particularly strong year for WMG, our artists and our songwriters. Once again, we’ve outperformed the competition, growing our global market share more than any other major, with our highest revenue since 2008 and highest profit in a decade. Not everyone expected that to happen when ACCESS bought the company.
In fact, people can often “expect the unexpected” from WMG. That’s true of the music we bring to world, from the Album Of The Year GRAMMY nomination for STURGILL SIMPSON's masterpiece, "A Sailor’s Guide To Earth," to the genre-defying songwriting on BEYONCE’s bombshell, "Lemonade." That’s true, too, of how we do business. Five years since SPOTIFY launched in the U.S., WMG became the first major to announce that streaming was its biggest source of revenue. We got in early because we believed in the future, and we came out ahead.
I was talking to some new hires recently about the importance of WMG’s pioneering spirit and giving talented people the freedom to grow and do amazing things. And to prove it, I mentioned that about 150 extraordinary people, or more than 3% of our global team, have been with WMG for 25 years or more.
That includes a handful of label or territory leaders -- DAVID BITHER, BEMD DOPP, BOB HURWITZ, MARTIN JESSURUN, ELVIRA MORENO, ROBERTO RAZZIN, CHARLIE SANCHEZ and INIGO ZABALA, among others -- who expect the unexpected in artists, their teams and themselves. It’s unusual for creative execs to have their kind of sustained success, especially at one company.
Which leads me to CRAIG KALLMAN, who this year marked his own 25th anniversary with ATLANTIC RECORDS. He’s kept quiet about it, but this deserves to be celebrated, particularly after the year CRAIG, JULIE [GREENWALD} and the team have had.
Right out of college, CRAIG started his indie label, BIG BEAT, running it out of his bedroom. Four years later, ATLANTIC bought the label, joining CRAIG to the lineage of AHMET, JAC and SEYMOUR. Anyone who has spent more than a minute with him knows that he lives and breathes music 24/7 -- listening to it, producing it, perfecting it, collecting it.
Whether he’s signing artists or mentoring executives, he searches for the unexpected. You never know what his next passion will be or where his curiosity will take him. Thank you CRAIG, and congratulations. Here’s to the next 25 years!
Whatever your role at WMG, I want you -- like CRAIG -- to have the opportunity to build a long career here, through your own intellect and inventiveness. Our willingness to embrace the unexpected is going to be crucial in 2017. Let’s be ready for what’s next, artistically and commercially. Let’s allow ourselves to dream. Let’s also stay alert to the threats to our industry’s nascent recovery. And then, as individuals and as a team, let’s make the changes we want to see happen.
By now you should have received a “Thank You” poster. It’s testament to how incredible each of you is that so many fantastic recording artists and songwriters wanted to express their gratitude.
I wish you and your loved ones a restful holiday. Here’s to 2017!