Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Universal Music Group: We’re Still Selling Tunes, Amazingly

Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music company, insists the music business isn’t dying. Yesterday, it released numbers to help bolster its case.

UMG saw sales drop 6.2 percent in the last quarter, parent company Vivendi disclosed yesterday. But that’s not as bad as it looks: Strip out the effect of currency fluctuations (chiefly, the rise of the U.S. dollar), and UMG’s revenues actually increased 1.1 percent.

What happened? CD sales are still declining, of course. But Vivendi said the rise of digital music–that means you, Apple (AAPL)–is finally beginning to balance out some of the decline. Digital sales increased 33 percent in the first nine months of the year, the company said.

Vivendi doesn’t break out how much of the growth was due to acquisitions the company made last year (BMG Music Publishing and the Sanctuary music label/management group), but during a conference call, officials said there was indeed organic growth at UMG. Those deals were both closed by early summer 2007, so that sounds right to me.

And this is the point where I’d normally go to YouTube and grab a video of a UMG artist, like, say, Amy Winehouse, to jazz up a fairly dull post. But all of UMG’s videos on Google’s (GOOG) video site seem to have had had their embedding code disabled, presumably at Universal’s request. Which means I had to grab this clip from MTV’s still pretty good music site.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik