Peter Kafka

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Universal Music: We Don’t Sound as Bad as Everyone Else

lil-wayneTwo constants in the music business right now:

1) The big music companies continue to post crummy results.

2) Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the biggest music label in the world, continues to post results that aren’t as bad as its competitors.

The newest data points come via Vivendi’s fourth-quarter earnings release, which announces that Universal’s sales declined six percent in the last three months of 2008. Strip out currency fluctuations and that number would have been minus 7.8 percent.

That’s bad, but not as bad as the 11 percent drop that Warner Music Group (WMG) reported during the same period, or the 22 percent decline that Sony’s Sony Music Entertainment (SNE) recorded. Universal says earnings (EBITDA, in this case), declined 3.6 percent for the quarter, or 6.6 percent if adjusted for currency fluctuations.

Per usual, Vivendi doesn’t provide much more in the way  of meaningful data about Universal’s performance–though it does say it sold a lot of Lil Wayne music last year. For what it’s worth, here’s what it said about UMG’s results for 2008:

Revenues: Down 4.5 percent (-0.2 percent after adjusting for currency).

Earnings (EBITDA): Up 9.9 percent (11.6 percent after adjusting for currency).

Recorded music sales: Down 8.8 percent, (-4.8 percent after adjusting for currency).

Digital sales: Up 31 percent (the company only provides a currency-adjusted number here). It says online sales were strong “in all large countries”–thank you, Apple (AAPL)–and that mobile sales were strong everywhere outside the U.S.

Obligatory YouTube clip: Here’s UMG star Lil Wayne having a giggle with Katie Couric about his marijuana intake.


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