Over the last 8 or 9 months we’ve been inundated with hype about how “hot” Sony Music has been under the leadership of Rob Stringer and partner Steve Barnett. Notice that there’s no mention of the other partner Rick Rubin who has suddenly become invisible. Of course, as I’ve pointed out many times in the past, the Stringer/Barnett supposed success has come from product that was originated by third parties, licensed product or deceased artists, most notably Glee, Susan Boyle, Jackie Evancho, Adele, and Michael Jackson.
Now we know it was BS.
Sony Music released its annual numbers the other day and showed a decline in revenues of 9.9% in the fiscal year ended March 31. Things got even worse in final quarter of the fiscal year. Sony Music’s fourth quarter revenue dropped 12.9% while its operating income was unchanged at $46 million. Sony blamed the problem on the “continued contraction of the physical music market”, but Billboard’s Glenn Peoples sees it more like the “Michael Jackson Factor”. According to Peoples, “One reason for Sony Music’s decline in annual revenue was the death of Michael Jackson in 2009. In the U.S. alone, Jackson’s catalog sold 8,285,000 albums in 2009, the year of his death, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In 2010, sales dropped to 2,118,000 units, 405,000 of which were the new “Michael” album released in December. That’s a drop of 6,167,000 albums.”
However there are some bright spots for Stringer, Barnett & company. Bob Dylan just turned 70 and really, how much longer has he got?