wmg-10k_20150930.htm

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

x

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015

OR

¨

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                      to                     

Commission File Number 001-32502

 

Warner Music Group Corp.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

13-4271875

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

 

1633 Broadway

New York, NY

 

10019

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (212) 275-2000

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: None

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ¨    No  x

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ¨    No  x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulations S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark if the disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendments to this Form 10-K.  x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

¨

  

 

 

Accelerated filer

 

¨

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

x

  

(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

 

Smaller reporting company

 

¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.)    Yes  ¨    No  x

There is no public market for the Registrant’s common stock. As of December 10, 2015 the number of shares of the Registrant’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share, outstanding was 1,055. All of the Registrant’s common stock is owned by affiliates of Access Industries, Inc. The Registrant has filed all Exchange Act reports for the preceding 12 months.

 

 

 

 

 


 

WARNER MUSIC GROUP CORP.

INDEX

 

 

  

 

  

 

Page
Number

 Part I.

  

Item 1.

  

 Business

 

1

 

  

 Item 1A.

  

 Risk Factors

 

16

 

  

 Item 1B.

  

 Unresolved Staff Comments

 

28

 

  

 Item 2.

  

 Properties

 

28

 

  

 Item 3.

  

 Legal Proceedings

 

28

 

  

 Item 4.

  

 Mine Safety Disclosures

 

29

 Part II.

  

 Item 5.

  

 Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

30

 

  

 Item 6.

  

 Selected Financial Data

 

31

 

  

 Item 7.

  

 Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

32

 

  

 Item 7A.

  

 Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

75

 

  

 Item 8.

  

 Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

76

 

  

 Item 9.

  

 Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

126

 

  

 Item 9A.

  

 Controls and Procedures

 

126

 

  

 Item 9B.

  

 Other Information

 

127

 Part III.

  

 Item 10.

  

 Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

128

 

  

 Item 11.

  

 Executive Compensation

 

134

 

  

 Item 12.

  

 Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

149

 

  

 Item 13.

  

 Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

150

 

  

 Item 14.

  

 Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

152

Part IV.

  

Item 15.

  

 Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

153

Signatures

 

160

 

 

 

 


 

 

ITEM 1.

BUSINESS

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about the industry in which we operate, management’s beliefs and assumptions. Words such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” or “continue” or the negative thereof or variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions, which are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from what is expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements. We disclaim any duty to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—‘Safe Harbor’ Statement Under Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.”

Introduction

Warner Music Group Corp. (the “Company”) was formed on November 21, 2003. We are the direct parent of WMG Holdings Corp. (“Holdings”), which is the direct parent of WMG Acquisition Corp. (“Acquisition Corp.”). Acquisition Corp. is one of the world’s major music-based content companies.

Acquisition of Warner Music Group by Access Industries

Pursuant to the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of May 6, 2011 (the “Merger Agreement”), by and among the Company, AI Entertainment Holdings LLC (formerly Airplanes Music LLC), a Delaware limited liability company (“Parent”) and an affiliate of Access Industries, Inc. (“Access”), and Airplanes Merger Sub, Inc., a Delaware corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent (“Merger Sub”), on July 20, 2011 (the “Merger Closing Date”), Merger Sub merged with and into the Company with the Company surviving as a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent (the “Merger”). In connection with the Merger, the Company delisted its common stock from the NYSE. The Company continues to file with the SEC current and periodic reports that would be required to be filed with the SEC pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) in accordance with certain covenants contained in the instruments covering its outstanding indebtedness. All of the Company’s common stock is owned by affiliates of Access Industries, Inc.

PLG Acquisition

On July 1, 2013, the Company completed its acquisition (the “PLG Acquisition”) of Parlophone Label Group (“PLG”). See “Company History” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for a further discussion of the PLG Acquisition.

Our Company

We are one of the world’s major music-based content companies. Our company is composed of two businesses: Recorded Music and Music Publishing. We believe we are the world’s third-largest recorded music company and also the world’s third-largest music publishing company. We are a global company, generating over half of our revenues in more than 50 countries outside of the United States. We generated revenues of $2.966 billion during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015.

Our Recorded Music business produces revenue primarily through the marketing, sale and licensing of recorded music in various physical (such as CDs, LPs and DVDs) and digital (such as downloads and streaming) formats. We have one of the world’s largest and most diverse recorded music catalogs, including 30 of the best-selling albums of all time in the U.S. (based on sale of 10 million or more units). Our Recorded Music business also benefits from additional revenue streams associated with artists, including merchandising, fan clubs, sponsorships, concert promotions and artist management, among other areas. We often refer to these rights as “artist services and expanded-rights” and to the recording agreements which provide us with participations in such rights as “expanded-rights deals” or “360° deals.” Prior to intersegment eliminations, our Recorded Music business generated revenues of $2.501 billion during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015.

Our Music Publishing business owns and acquires rights to musical compositions, exploits and markets these compositions and receives royalties or fees for their use. We publish music across a broad range of musical styles and hold rights in over one million

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copyrights from over 65,000 songwriters and composers. Prior to intersegment eliminations, our Music Publishing business generated revenues of $482 million during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015.

Company History

Our history dates back to 1929, when Jack Warner, president of Warner Bros. Pictures, founded Music Publishers Holding Company (“MPHC”) to acquire music copyrights as a means of providing inexpensive music for films. Encouraged by the success of MPHC, Warner Bros. extended its presence in the music industry with the founding of Warner Bros. Records in 1958 as a means of distributing movie soundtracks and further utilizing actors’ contracts. For over 50 years, Warner Bros. Records has led the industry both creatively and financially with the discovery of many of the world’s biggest recording artists. Warner Bros. Records acquired Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records in 1963. Our Atlantic Records label was launched in 1947 by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson as a small New York-based label focused on jazz and R&B and Elektra Records was founded in 1950 by Jac Holzman as a folk music label. Atlantic Records and Elektra Records were consolidated in 2004 to form the Atlantic Records Group. Since 1970, our international Recorded Music business has been responsible for the sale and marketing of our U.S. recording artists abroad as well as the discovery and development of international recording artists.

Chappell & Intersong Music Group, including Chappell & Co., a company whose history dates back to 1811, was acquired in 1987, expanding our Music Publishing business. We continue to diversify our presence through acquisitions and joint ventures with various labels, such as the acquisition of a majority interest in Word Entertainment (“Word”) in 2002, our acquisition of Ryko in 2006, our acquisition of a majority interest in Roadrunner Music Group B.V. (“Roadrunner”) in 2007 (we also acquired the remaining interest in Roadrunner in 2010) and the acquisition of music publishing catalogs and businesses, such as the Non-Stop Music production music catalog in 2007 and Southside Independent Music Publishing in 2011.

On July 20, 2011, we completed the Merger with an affiliate of Access pursuant to which Access became the beneficial owner of 100% of our equity and our controlling shareholder.

On July 1, 2013, we completed the acquisition of PLG from Universal Music Group. PLG included a broad range of some of the world’s best-known recordings and classic and contemporary artists spanning a wide array of musical genres. PLG was comprised of the historic Parlophone label and Chrysalis and Ensign labels in the U.K., as well as EMI Classics and Virgin Classics, and EMI’s recorded music operations in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. PLG’s artists included Air, Alain Souchon, Camille, Coldplay, Daft Punk, Danger Mouse, David Bowie, David Guetta, Deep Purple, Duran Duran, Eliza Doolittle, Gorillaz, Iron Maiden, Jean-Louis Aubert, Jethro Tull, Julien Clerc, Kylie Minogue, M. Pokora, Magic System, Pablo Alborán, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Roxette, Tina Turner and Tinie Tempah, as well as many developing and up-and-coming artists. PLG’s EMI Classics and Virgin Classics brand names were not included with the PLG Acquisition. WMG has rebranded these businesses, respectively, as Warner Classics and Erato.

Warner Music Group is today home to a collection of record labels, including Asylum, Atlantic, Big Beat, Canvasback, Eastwest, Elektra, Erato, FFRR, Fueled by Ramen, Nonesuch, Parlophone, Reprise, Rhino, Roadrunner, Sire, Warner Bros., Warner Classics, Warner Music Nashville and Word, as well as Warner/Chappell Music, one of the world’s leading music publishers.

Our Business Strengths

We believe the following competitive strengths will enable us to grow our revenue and increase our margins and cash flow and to continue to generate recurring revenue through our diverse base of Recorded Music and Music Publishing assets:

Evergreen Catalog of Recorded Music and Music Publishing Content and Vibrant Roster of Recording Artists and Songwriters. We believe the depth and quality of our Recorded Music and Music Publishing catalogs stand out, with a collection of owned and controlled evergreen recordings and songs that generate steady cash flows. We believe these assets demonstrate our historical success in developing talent and will help to attract future talent in order to enable our continued success. We have been able to consistently attract, develop and retain successful recording artists and songwriters. Our talented artist and repertoire (“A&R”) teams are focused on finding and nurturing future successful recording artists and songwriters, as evidenced by our roster of recording artists and songwriters and our recent successes in our Recorded Music and Music Publishing businesses. With the acquisition of PLG, we have added a stable Recorded Music catalog with an attractive roster with strong new release potential. We believe our relative size, the strength and experience of our management team, our ability to respond to industry and consumer trends and challenges, our diverse array of genres, our large catalog of hit recordings and songs and our A&R skills will help us continue to generate steady cash flows.

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Highly Diversified Revenue Base. Our revenue base is derived largely from recurring sources such as our Recorded Music and Music Publishing catalogs and new recordings and songs from our roster of recording artists and songwriters. In any given year, only a small percentage of our total revenue depends on recording artists and songwriters without an established track record and our revenue base does not depend on any single recording artist, songwriter, recording or song. We have built a large and diverse catalog of recordings and songs that covers a wide breadth of musical styles, including pop, rock, jazz, classical, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, alternative, folk, blues, gospel and other Christian music. We are a significant player in each of our major geographic regions. In addition, our acquisition of PLG has increased our capacity in local repertoire in Europe. Continuing to enter into additional expanded-rights deals will further diversify the revenue base of our Recorded Music business.

Flexible Cost Structure with Low Capital Expenditure Requirements. We have a highly variable cost structure, with substantial discretionary spending and minimal capital requirements beyond improving our IT infrastructure. We have contractual flexibility with regard to the timing and amounts of advances paid to recording artists and songwriters as well as discretion regarding future investment in new recording artists and songwriters, which allows us to respond to changing industry conditions. Our significant discretion with regard to the timing and expenditure of variable costs provides us with considerable flexibility in managing our expenses. In addition, our capital expenditure maintenance requirements are predictable. In order to improve operating efficiency, in 2013 we began a long-term capital expenditure plan to upgrade our IT systems. We expect to continue to make investments to upgrade our IT systems in fiscal 2016 as a result of this plan. In both fiscal years 2014 and 2015, we also incurred expenditures related to the relocation of our corporate headquarters. We also continue to focus on cost control by seeking sensible opportunities to convert fixed costs to variable costs, to enhance our effectiveness, flexibility, structure and performance by reducing and realigning long-term costs and continuing to implement changes to better align our workforce with the changing nature of the music industry by continuing to shift resources from our physical sales channels to efforts focused on digital distribution and emerging technologies and other new revenue streams.

Continued Transition to Higher-Margin Digital Platforms. We derive revenue from different digital business models and products, including digital downloads of single tracks and albums and digital streaming of both audio and video content. We have established ourselves as a leader in the music industry’s transition to the digital era by expanding our distribution channels through strong partnerships and developing innovative products and services to further leverage our content and rights. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015, digital revenue represented approximately 42% of our total revenue versus 40% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2014.

We have integrated the development of innovative digital products and strategies throughout our business and have established a culture of product innovation. Through our digital initiatives we have established strong relationships with our customers and have become a leader in the expanding worldwide digital music business. Due to the absence of certain costs associated with physical products, such as manufacturing, distribution, inventory and returns, we continue to experience higher margins on our digital product offerings than our physical product offerings.

Diversified Revenue Streams through Expanded-Rights Deals. We have been expanding our relationships with recording artists to partner with them in other areas of their careers by entering into expanded-rights or 360° deals. Under these arrangements, we participate in sources of revenue outside of the recording artist’s record sales, such as live performances, merchandising, fan clubs, artist management and sponsorships. We believe we also have improved sponsorship and branding opportunities through the PLG Acquisition. These opportunities have allowed us, and we believe will continue to allow us, to further diversify our revenue base. The vast majority of these agreements are signed with recording artists in the early stages of their careers. As a result, we expect the revenue streams derived from these deals to increase in value over time as we help recording artists on our active global Recorded Music roster gain prominence.

Strong Management Team and Strategic Investor. Our management team has continued to successfully implement our business strategy, including delivering strong results in our digital business and continuing to diversify our revenue mix. At the same time, management has remained vigilant in managing costs and maintaining financial flexibility. During fiscal 2013, our management team successfully completed the PLG Acquisition and related financing. In fiscal 2014, management completed a refinancing of our debt, lowering interest expenses. In addition, since our acquisition by Access Industries in July 2011, we have benefited from our partnership with Access, which has provided us with strategic direction and planning support to help us manage the ongoing transition in the recorded music industry.

Our Strategy

We expect to increase revenues and cash flow through the following business strategies:

Attract, Develop and Retain Established and Emerging Recording Artists and Songwriters. A critical element of our strategy is to find, develop and retain recording artists and songwriters who achieve long-term success, and we expect to enhance the value of

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our assets by continuing to attract and develop new recording artists and songwriters with staying power and market potential. Our A&R teams seek to sign talented recording artists who will generate a meaningful level of revenues and increase the enduring value of our catalog on an ongoing basis. We also work to identify promising songwriters who write musical compositions that will augment the lasting value and stability of our music publishing catalog. We regularly evaluate our recording artist and songwriter rosters to ensure that we remain focused on developing the most promising and profitable talent and are committed to maintaining financial discipline in evaluating agreements with artists. We will also continue to evaluate opportunities to add to our catalog or acquire or make investments in companies engaged in businesses that are similar or complementary to ours on a selective basis.

Maximize the Value of Our Music Assets. Our relationships with recording artists and songwriters, along with our recorded music and music publishing catalogs are our most valuable assets. We intend to continue to exploit the value of these assets through a variety of distribution channels, formats and products to generate significant cash flow from our music-based content. We believe that the ability to monetize our music-based content will improve over time as we drive users and engagement across current and emerging distribution channels. We will seek to exploit the potential of previously under-monetized content in new channels, formats and product offerings. We will also continue to work with our partners to explore creative approaches and develop new deal structures and product offerings to take advantage of new distribution channels.

Capitalize on Digital Distribution. The growth of digital formats will continue to produce new means for the distribution, exploitation and monetization of the assets of our Recorded Music and Music Publishing businesses. We believe that the continued development of legitimate online and mobile channels for the consumption of music-based content and increasing access to digital music services present significant promise and opportunity for the music industry. Legitimate digital music services offer ease of use, discovery, quality, portability and seamlessness relative to illegal alternatives. The latest annual survey conducted by MusicWatch shows that legitimate digital music offerings have attracted large numbers of consumers. According to MusicWatch, a projected 37 million U.S. consumers age 13 and over bought digital music downloads in 2014, while a projected 133 million consumers age 13 and over streamed music online, through ad-supported services or paid subscriptions, over the same period.

We intend to continue to extend our global reach by executing deals with new partners and developing optimal business models that will enable us to monetize our content across various platforms, services and devices. In the twelve months ending on September 30, 2015, our Recorded Music digital revenue exceeded physical revenue. Research conducted by MusicWatch covering activity in the second calendar quarter of 2015 shows that roughly 40% of all U.S. Internet consumers age 13 and over used ad-supported Internet radio services like the free version of Pandora during the quarter and close to 60% used online video services like YouTube to watch or listen to music videos; close to a quarter listened to music via ad-supported iterations of dedicated on-demand audio streaming services like Spotify, while usage of paid subscription versions of Internet radio and on-demand music streaming services approached the 10% mark during the period. In addition, with the number of total smartphones in use around the world expected to reach 3.9 billion by 2019 according to forecasts from PricewaterhouseCoopers, we expect that mobile will continue to represent significant opportunity for music-based content. Figures from comScore’s July 2015 MobiLens Plus data release show that the uptake of music among users of such phones is significant: according to the data, more than half of existing smartphone users in the U.S. and 45% of their counterparts in the U.K., listened to music downloaded and stored or streamed on their handsets from services such as iTunes, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Deezer and Spotify, among other sources, during the month. We believe that the demand for music-related products, services and applications that are optimized for smartphones and tablets will continue to grow with the further development of these platforms.

Enter into Expanded-Rights Deals to Form Closer Relationships with Recording Artists and Capitalize on Revenues From Other Areas of the Music Industry. Since the end of calendar 2005, we have implemented a strategy of entering into expanded-rights deals with new recording artists. This strategy has allowed us to create closer relationships with our recording artists through our provision of additional artist services and greater financial alignment. Expanded-rights deals allow us to diversify our Recorded Music revenue streams and capitalize on ancillary revenues, from merchandising, fan clubs, sponsorship, concert promotion, and artist management, among other areas. As part of our strategy, we have built or acquired significant in-house resources to provide additional services to our recording artists and other recording artists. We believe artist services and expanded-rights deals will contribute to Recorded Music revenue growth over time.

Focus on Continued Management of Our Cost Structure. We plan to continue to maintain a disciplined approach to cost management in our business and to pursue additional cost savings with a focus on aligning our cost structure with our strategy and optimizing the implementation of our strategy. As part of this focus, we will continue to monitor industry conditions to ensure that our business remains aligned with industry trends. We also plan to continue to aggressively shift resources from our physical sales channels to efforts focused on digital distribution and other new revenue streams. As digital revenue makes up a greater portion of total revenue, we plan to manage our cost structure accordingly. In addition, we will continue to look for opportunities to convert fixed costs to variable costs through realigning or outsourcing certain functions or leveraging more effective IT systems where these initiatives provide additional cost savings. We are constantly monitoring our costs and seeking additional cost savings.

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Contain Digital Piracy. Containing piracy is a major focus of the music industry and we, along with the rest of the industry, continue to take multiple measures through the development of new business models, technological innovation, litigation, education and the promotion of legislation and voluntary agreements to combat piracy, including filing civil lawsuits, participating in education programs, lobbying for tougher anti-piracy legislation and other initiatives to preserve the value of music copyrights. We expect that the effectiveness of technological measures to deter piracy will continue to improve including the ability to automate large-scale takedowns of infringing links, the identification of major brands advertising on rogue sites, sending notices via ISPs to repeat infringers and website/domain blocking and takedowns of infringing mobile applications. We believe these actions and technologies, in addition to the expansive growth of legitimate online and mobile music offerings, will help to limit the revenue lost to digital piracy. Research conducted by IFPI, based on data provided by recognized third-party research firms comScore and Nielsen, shows that global piracy is on the decline, with the number of fixed-line pirate users falling from over 30% of the global Internet population in July 2012 to 20% of the Internet population based on the most recent estimates published in the IFPI Digital Music Report 2015.

Recorded Music (84%, 83% and 83% of consolidated revenues, before intersegment eliminations, for fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, 2014 and 2013)

Our Recorded Music business primarily consists of the discovery and development of artists and the related marketing, distribution and licensing of recorded music produced by such artists. We play an integral role in virtually all aspects of the recorded music value chain from discovering and developing talent to producing albums and promoting artists and their products.

In the United States, our Recorded Music operations are conducted principally through our major record labels—Warner Bros. Records and Atlantic Records. Our Recorded Music operations also include Rhino, a division that specializes in marketing our music catalog through compilations and reissuances of previously released music and video titles. We also conduct our Recorded Music operations through a collection of additional record labels, including, Asylum, Big Beat, Canvasback, Eastwest, Elektra, Erato, FFRR, Fueled by Ramen, Nonesuch, Parlophone, Reprise, Roadrunner, Sire, Warner Classics, Warner Music Nashville and Word.

Outside the United States, our Recorded Music activities are conducted in more than 50 countries through various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. Internationally, we engage in the same activities as in the United States: discovering and signing artists and distributing, marketing and selling their recorded music. In most cases, we also market and distribute the records of those artists for whom our domestic record labels have international rights. In certain smaller markets, we license the right to distribute our records to non-affiliated third-party record labels. Our international artist services operations include a network of concert promoters through which we provide resources to coordinate tours for our artists and other artists as well as management companies that guide artists with respect to their careers.

Our Recorded Music distribution operations include Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corporation (“WEA Corp.”), which markets and sells music and video products to retailers and wholesale distributors; Alternative Distribution Alliance (“ADA”), which distributes the products of independent labels to retail and wholesale distributors; various distribution centers and ventures operated internationally; and an 80% interest in Word, which specializes in the distribution of music products in the Christian retail marketplace.

In addition to our Recorded Music products being sold in physical retail outlets, our Recorded Music products are also sold in physical form to online physical retailers such as Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and bestbuy.com and in digital form to digital download services such as Apple’s iTunes and Google Play, and are offered by digital streaming services such as Apple Music, Deezer, Rhapsody, Spotify and YouTube, including digital radio services such as iTunes Radio, iHeart Radio, Pandora and Sirius XM.

We have integrated the exploitation of digital content into all aspects of our business, including artist and repertoire (“A&R”), marketing, promotion and distribution. Our business development executives work closely with A&R departments to ensure that while a record is being produced, digital assets are also created with all distribution channels in mind, including streaming services, social networking sites, online portals and music-centered destinations. We also work side-by-side with our online and mobile partners to test new concepts. We believe existing and new digital businesses will be a significant source of growth and will provide new opportunities to successfully monetize our assets and create new revenue streams. The proportion of digital revenues attributed to each distribution channel varies by region and proportions may change as the roll out of new technologies continues. As an owner of music content, we believe we are well positioned to take advantage of growth in digital distribution and emerging technologies to maximize the value of our assets.

We have diversified our revenues beyond our traditional businesses by entering into expanded-rights deals with recording artists in order to partner with artists in other aspects of their careers. Under these agreements, we provide services to and participate in artists’ activities outside the traditional recorded music business such as touring, merchandising and sponsorships. We have built artist services capabilities and platforms for exploiting this broader set of music-related rights and participating more widely in the monetization of the artist brands we help create.

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We believe that entering into expanded-rights deals and enhancing our artist services capabilities in areas such as concert promotion and management has permitted us to diversify revenue streams and capitalize on other revenue opportunities. This provides for improved long-term relationships with artists and allows us to more effectively connect artists and fans.

A&R

We have a decades-long history of identifying and contracting with recording artists who become commercially successful. Our ability to select artists who are likely to be successful is a key element of our Recorded Music business strategy and spans all music genres and all major geographies and includes artists who achieve national, regional and international success. We believe that this success is directly attributable to our experienced global team of A&R executives, to the longstanding reputation and relationships that we have developed in the artistic community and to our effective management of this vital business function.

In the U.S., our major record labels identify potentially successful recording artists, sign them to recording agreements, collaborate with them to develop recordings of their work and market and sell these finished recordings to retail stores and legitimate digital channels. Increasingly, we are also expanding our participation in image and brand rights associated with artists, including merchandising, sponsorships, touring and artist management. Our labels scout and sign talent across all major music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, classical, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, alternative, folk, blues, gospel and other Christian music. Internationally, we market and sell U.S. and local repertoire through our network of affiliates and licensees in more than 50 countries. With a roster of local artists performing in various local languages throughout the world, we have an ongoing commitment to developing local talent aimed at achieving national, regional or international success.

Many of our recording artists continue to appeal to audiences long after we cease to release their new recordings. We have an efficient process for sustaining sales across our catalog releases. Relative to our new releases, we spend comparatively small amounts on marketing for our catalog.

We maximize the value of our catalog of recorded music through our Rhino business unit and through activities of each of our record labels. We use our catalog as a source of material for re-releases, compilations, box sets and special package releases, which provide consumers with incremental exposure to familiar songs and artists.

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Representative Worldwide Recorded Music Artists

 

3Oh!3

Death Cab for Cutie

Katherine Jenkins

Nickelback

Skillet

A-ha

Deftones

Jethro Tull

Stevie Nicks

Skrillex

Air

Jason Derulo

Johnny Hallyday

Nico and Vinz

Slipknot

Airbourne

Disturbed

Julien Clerc

Notorious B.I.G.

The Smiths

Jean-Louis Aubert

Donkeyboy

k.d. lang

Paolo Nutini

Spandau Ballet

Avenged Sevenfold

The Doors

Kid Rock

Opeth

Regina Spektor

B.o.B

Dream Theater

Killswitch Engage

Pablo Alborán

Staind

Frankie Ballard

Duran Duran

Kobukuro

Panic! At the Disco

Rod Stewart

The Baseballs

Eagles

Korn

Pantera

The Streets

Jeff Beck

Brett Eldrege

Kraftwerk

Paramore

Alain Souchon

Bee Gees

Eliza Doolittle

Jana Kramer

Laura Pausini

Stone Sour

Biffy Clyro

Missy Elliott

Larry the Cable Guy

Pendulum

Stone Temple Pilots

Big Smo

The Enemy

Hugh Laurie

Christina Perri

Superfly

Billy Talent

Enya

Led Zeppelin

Peter Fox

Cole Swindell

Birdy

Estelle

Ligabue

Tom Petty

Mariya Takeuchi

The Black Keys

Jimmy Fallon

Lily Allen

Pink Floyd

Serj Tankian

Black Sabbath

Flaming Lips

Linkin Park

Plan B

Tegan and Sara

Blur

Fleetwood Mac

Lupé Fiasco

Plies

Tina Turner

Miguel Bosé

Flo Rida

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Primal Scream

Tinie Tempah

Michelle Branch

Aretha Franklin

M. Pokora

Prince

Theory of a Deadman

Bruno Mars

Foreigner

Machine Head

R.E.M.

Rob Thomas

Michael Bublé

fun.

Christophe Maé

Radiohead

Rush

Camille

Genesis

Magic System

The Ramones

T.I.

The Cars

Gloriana

Maná

Randy Travis

Theophilus London

Cee Lo Green

Gnarls Barkley

Mastodon

The Ready Set

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Tracy Chapman

Gojira

matchbox twenty

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Trey Songz

Ray Charles

Goo Goo Dolls

MC Solaar

Damien Rice

Jolin Tsai

Charlie XCX

Josh Groban

Megadeath

Kenny Rogers

Twisted Sister

Cher

Grateful Dead

Bette Midler

Roxette

Uncle Kracker

Chicago

Green Day

Luis Miguel

Rudimental

Van Halen

Eric Clapton

Gorillaz

Kylie Minogue

Rumer

Paul Wall

Cobra Starship

Gucci Mane

Janelle Monáe

Todd Rundgren

Westernhagen

Coldplay

David Guetta

The Monkees

Alejandro Sanz

Wilco

Phil Collins

Gym Class Heroes

Ashley Monroe

Jill Scott

Wiz Khalifa

Alice Cooper

Halestorm

Jason Mraz

Seal

The Wombats

The Corrs

Hard-Fi

Murderdolls

Sean Paul

Neil Young

Crosby, Stills & Nash

Emmylou Harris

Muse

Seeed

Young the Giant

Sheryl Crow

Hunter Hayes

Musiq Soulchild

Ed Sheeran

Youssou N’Dour

Daft Punk

Faith Hill

My Chemical Romance

Blake Shelton

ZZ Top

Dan + Shay

Iron Maiden

Nek

Shinedown

 

Danger Mouse

Jaheim

New Order

Sigur Rós

 

David Bowie

James Blunt

Never Shout Never

Simple Plan

 

Recording Artists’ Contracts

Our artists’ contracts define the commercial relationship between our recording artists and our record labels. We negotiate recording agreements with artists that define our rights to use the artists’ copyrighted recordings. In accordance with the terms of the contract, the artists receive royalties based on sales and other forms of exploitation of the artists’ recorded works. We customarily provide up-front payments to artists called advances, which are recoupable by us from future royalties otherwise payable to artists. We also typically pay costs associated with the recording and production of albums, which in certain countries are treated as advances recoupable by us from future royalties. Our typical contract for a new artist covers a single initial album and provides us with a series of options to acquire subsequent albums from the artist. Royalty rates and advances are often increased for subsequent albums for which we have exercised our options. Many of our contracts contain a commitment from the record label to fund video production costs, at least a portion of which in certain countries is treated as advances recoupable by us from future royalties.

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Our established artists’ contracts generally provide for greater advances and higher royalty rates. Typically, established artists’ contracts entitle us to fewer albums, and, of those, fewer are optional albums. In contrast to new artists’ contracts, which typically give us ownership in the artist’s work for the full term of copyright, some established artists’ contracts provide us with an exclusive license for some fixed period of time. It is not unusual for us to renegotiate contract terms with a successful artist during the term of their existing agreement, sometimes in return for an increase in the number of albums that the artist is required to deliver.

While the duration of the contract may vary, our contracts typically grant us ownership for the duration of copyright. See “Intellectual Property-Copyrights.” U.S. copyright law permits authors or their estates to terminate an assignment or license of copyright (for the U.S. only) after a set period of time in certain circumstances. See “Risk Factors—We face a potential loss of catalog to the extent that recording artists have a right to recapture rights in their recordings under the U.S. Copyright Act.”

We are also continuing to transition to other forms of business models with recording artists to adapt to changing industry conditions. The vast majority of the recording agreements we currently enter into are expanded-rights deals, in which we share in the touring, merchandising, sponsorship/endorsement, fan club or other non-traditional music revenues associated with those artists.

Marketing and Promotion

Our approach to marketing and promoting our artists and their recordings is comprehensive. Our goal is to maximize the likelihood of success for new releases as well as to stimulate the success of catalog releases. We seek to maximize the value of each release, and to help our artists develop an image that maximizes appeal to consumers.

We work to raise the profile of our artists, through an integrated marketing approach that covers all aspects of their interactions with music consumers. These activities include helping the artist develop creatively in each album release, setting strategic release dates and choosing radio singles, creating concepts for videos that are complementary to the artists’ work and coordinating the promotion of albums to radio and television outlets. We also continue to experiment with ways to promote our artists through digital channels with initiatives such as windowing of content and creating product bundles by combining our existing album assets with other assets, such as bonus tracks and music videos. Digital distribution channels create greater marketing flexibility that can be more cost effective. For example, direct marketing is possible through access to consumers via websites and pre-release activity can be customized. When possible, we seek to add an additional personal component to our promotional efforts by facilitating television and radio coverage or live appearances for our key artists. Our corporate, label and artist websites provide additional marketing venues for our artists.

Before and after the release of an album, we coordinate and execute a marketing plan that addresses specific digital and physical retail strategies to promote the album. Aspects of these promotions include in-store appearances, advertising, displays and placement in album listening stations. These activities are overseen by our label marketing staffs to ensure that maximum visibility is achieved for the artist and the release.

Our approach to the marketing and promotion of recorded music is carefully coordinated to create the greatest sales momentum, while maintaining financial discipline. We have significant experience in our marketing and promotion departments, which we believe allows us to achieve an optimal balance between our marketing expenditure and the eventual sales of our artists’ recordings. We use a budget-based approach to plan marketing and promotions, and we monitor all expenditures related to each release to ensure compliance with the agreed-upon budget. These planning processes are regularly evaluated based on updated artist retail sales reports and radio airplay data, so that a promotion plan can be quickly adjusted if necessary.

While marketing efforts extend to our catalog, most of the expenditure is directed toward new releases. Rhino specializes in marketing our catalog through compilations and reissues of previously released music and video titles, licensing tracks to third parties for various uses and coordinating film and television soundtrack opportunities with third-party film and television producers and studios.

Manufacturing, Packaging and Physical Distribution

Technicolor SA, a technology provider for the media and entertainment sectors, which recently acquired the North American optical disc manufacturing and distribution assets from Cinram Group Inc. (collectively, with its affiliates and subsidiaries, “Cinram”), is currently our primary supplier of manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution services in the U.S. and Canada. We also have arrangements with other suppliers and distributors, in addition to Cinram, as part of our manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution network throughout the rest of the world. We believe that the pricing terms of our manufacturing, packaging and physical distribution agreements reflect market rates.

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Sales and Digital Distribution

We generate sales from the new releases of current artists and our catalog of recordings. In addition, we actively repackage music from our catalog to form new compilations. Our sales are generated in CD format, as well as through historical formats, such as vinyl albums, and digital formats including downloads and streaming.

Most of our physical sales represent purchases by a wholesale or retail distributor. Our sale and return policies are in accordance with wholesale and retailer requirements, applicable laws and regulations, territory- and customer-specific negotiations, and industry practice. We attempt to minimize the return of unsold product by working with retailers to manage inventory and SKU counts as well as monitoring shipments and sell-through data.

We sell our physical recorded music products through a variety of different retail and wholesale outlets including music specialty stores, general entertainment specialty stores, supermarkets, mass merchants and discounters, independent retailers and other traditional retailers. Although some of our retailers are specialized, many of our customers offer a substantial range of products other than music. The digital sales channel—both online and mobile—has become an increasingly important sales channel. Online sales include sales of traditional physical formats through both the online distribution arms of traditional retailers such as fye.com and walmart.com and traditional online physical retailers such as amazon.com, bestbuy.com and barnesandnoble.com. In addition, there has been a proliferation of legitimate online service providers, which sell digital music on a per-album or per-track basis or offer subscription and streaming services. Various mobile service providers also offer their subscribers the ability to stream or download music on mobile devices. We currently partner with a broad range of online service providers and mobile service providers, such as Amazon, Apple, Deezer, KKBox, Rhapsody, Spotify, Telefonica, TIM, YouTube and Google, and are actively seeking to develop and grow our digital business. In digital formats, per-unit costs related directly to physical products such as manufacturing, distribution, inventory and return costs do not apply. While there are some digital-specific variable costs and infrastructure investments needed to produce, market and sell digital products, it is reasonable to expect that we will generally derive a higher contribution margin from digital sales than physical sales.

Our agreements with online and mobile service providers generally last one to three years. We believe that the short-term nature of our agreements enables us to maintain the flexibility that we need given the continuing changes to digital business models.

We enter into agreements with these service providers to make our masters available for access in digital formats (e.g., digital downloads, streaming, mobile ringtones, etc.). We then provide digital assets for our masters to these service providers in an accessible form. Our agreements with these service providers establish our fees for the distribution of our product, which vary based on the type of product being distributed. We typically receive accounting reports from these service providers on a monthly basis, detailing the distribution activity, with payments rendered on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Our business has historically been seasonal. In the recorded music business, purchases have historically been heavily weighted towards the last three months of the calendar year. However, since the emergence of digital sales, we have noted our business is becoming less seasonal in nature and driven more by the timing of our releases. As digital revenue increases as a percentage of our total revenue, this may continue to affect the overall seasonality of our business. However, seasonality with respect to the sale of music in new formats, such as digital, is still developing.

Music Publishing (16%, 17% and 17% of consolidated revenues, before intersegment eliminations, for fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, 2014 and 2013)

While recorded music is focused on exploiting a particular recording of a composition, music publishing is an intellectual property business focused on the exploitation of the composition itself. In return for promoting, placing, marketing and administering the creative output of a songwriter, or engaging in those activities for other rightsholders, our Music Publishing business garners a share of the revenues generated from use of the composition.

Our Music Publishing operations are conducted principally through Warner/Chappell, our global music publishing company headquartered in Los Angeles with operations in over 50 countries through various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. We own or control rights to more than one million musical compositions, including numerous pop hits, American standards, folk songs and motion picture and theatrical compositions. Assembled over decades, our award-winning catalog includes over 65,000 songwriters and composers and a diverse range of genres including pop, rock, jazz, classical, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, folk, blues, symphonic, soul, Broadway, techno, alternative, gospel and other Christian music. Warner/Chappell also administers the music and soundtracks of several third-party television and film producers and studios, including Lucasfilm, Ltd., Hallmark Entertainment and Disney Music Publishing. Through consistent and tactical talent investment, Warner/Chappell has developed a broad array of talent across all genres, resulting in Warner/Chappell being awarded ASCAP’s Top Publisher of the Year

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for Latin Music in 2015, to add to the successes of Top Publisher in each of Pop, Country and Urban categories in 2014. We have an extensive production music library collectively branded as Warner/Chappell Production Music.

Music Publishing Portfolio

Representative Songwriters

 

Steve Aoki

Brett James

Radiohead

Beyoncé

Jay Z

The Ramones

Belly

Ian Kirkpatrick

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Michelle Branch

Kool & the Gang

R.E.M.

Brody Brown

Lady Antebellum

Pricilla Renea

Bruno Mars

Kendrick Lamar

Damien Rice

Michael Bublé

Led Zeppelin

Rihanna

Captain Cuts

Lil Wayne

Liz Rose

Harry Chapin

Little Big Town

Mort Shuman

Eric Clapton

Tove Lo

Stephen Sondheim

Dido

Madonna

Staind

Sean Douglas

Maná

A Thousand Horses

Dream

Johnny Mercer

Justin Trantor

Dr. Dre

George Michael

Twenty One Pilots

Echosmith

Julia Michaels

Van Halen

fun.

Nick Monson

Roger Waters

Nicole Galyon

Van Morrison

Kurt Weill

Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff

Muse

Barry White

George and Ira Gershwin

Kacey Musgraves

Mike Will

Barry Gibb

Dave Mustaine

John Williams

Brantley Gilbert

Tim Nichols

Lucinda Williams

Ashley Gorley

Nickelback

Pharrell Williams

Green Day

Paramore

Wiz Kalifa

Halestorm

Katy Perry

Wolf Cousins

Jerome Harmon

Plain White T’s

Rob Zombie

Ben Hayslip

Cole Porter

 

Representative Songs

 

1950s and Prior

 

1960s

 

1970s

As Time Goes By

 

Build Me Up Buttercup

 

A Horse With No Name

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

 

Everyday People

 

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

Frosty The Snowman

 

For What It’s Worth

 

Hot Stuff

Jingle Bell Rock

 

I Only Want To Be With You

 

Killing Me Softly

Misty

 

Save The Last Dance For Me

 

Layla

Night And Day

 

This Magic Moment

 

Listen To The Music

Summertime

 

Viva Las Vegas

 

Moondance

That’s All Right

 

Walk On By

 

Stairway To Heaven

When I Fall In Love

 

When A Man Loves A Woman

 

Star Wars Theme

Winter Wonderland

 

Whole Lotta Love

 

Staying Alive

 

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1980s

 

1990s

 

2000s

 

2010 and after

Celebration

 

Believe

 

American Idiot

 

Drunk In Love

Endless Love

 

Creep

 

Crazy

 

Firework

Eye Of The Tiger

 

End Of The Road

 

Crazy In Love

 

Glad You Came

Flashdance

 

Gonna Make You Sweat

 

Gotta Be Somebody

 

Grenade

Indiana Jones Theme

 

Livin’ La Vida Loca

 

Hey There Delilah

 

Just The Way You Are

Jump

 

Losing My Religion

 

Home

 

Let It Go

Like A Prayer

 

Macarena

 

I Kissed A Girl

 

See You Again

Morning Train

 

Smooth

 

Rockstar

 

Somebody That I Used To Know

Slow Hand

 

Sunny Came Home

 

Umbrella

 

Uptown Funk

The Wind Beneath My Wings

 

This Kiss

 

White Flag

 

We Are Young

Music Publishing Royalties

Warner/Chappell, as a copyright owner and/or administrator of copyrighted musical compositions, is entitled to receive royalties for the exploitation of musical compositions. We continually add new musical compositions to our catalog, and seek to acquire rights in songs that will generate substantial revenue over long periods of time.

Music publishers generally receive royalties pursuant to mechanical, public performance, synchronization and other licenses. In the U.S., music publishers collect and administer mechanical royalties, and statutory rates are established by the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, for the royalty rates applicable to musical compositions for sales of recordings embodying those musical compositions. In the U.S., public performance royalties are typically administered and collected by performing rights organizations and in most countries outside the U.S., collection, administration and allocation of both mechanical and performance income are undertaken and regulated by governmental or quasi-governmental authorities. Throughout the world, each synchronization license is generally subject to negotiation with a prospective licensee and, by contract, music publishers pay a contractually required percentage of synchronization income to the songwriters or their heirs and to any co-publishers.

Warner/Chappell acquires copyrights or portions of copyrights and/or administration rights from songwriters or other third-party holders of rights in compositions. Typically, in either case, the grantor of rights retains a right to receive a percentage of revenues collected by Warner/Chappell. As an owner and/or administrator of compositions, we promote the use of those compositions by others. For example, we encourage recording artists to record and include our songs on their albums, offer opportunities to include our compositions in filmed entertainment, advertisements and digital media and advocate for the use of our compositions in live stage productions. Examples of music uses that generate publishing revenues include:

Performance: performance of the song to the general public

 

Broadcast of music on television, radio and cable

 

Live performance at a concert or other venue (e.g., arena concerts, nightclubs)

 

Broadcast of music at sporting events, restaurants or bars

 

Performance of music in staged theatrical productions

Mechanical: sale of recorded music in various physical formats

 

Physical recordings such as CDs, Vinyl, LPs, and DVDs

Synchronization: use of the song in combination with visual images

 

Films or television programs

 

Television commercials

 

Videogames

 

Merchandising, toys or novelty items

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Digital: sale of recorded music in various digital formats

 

Digital recordings such as digital downloads and streaming services

Other:

 

Licensing of copyrights for use in printed sheet music

Composers’ and Lyricists’ Contracts

Warner/Chappell derives its rights through contracts with composers and lyricists (songwriters) or their heirs, and with third-party music publishers. In some instances, those contracts grant either 100% or some lesser percentage of copyright ownership in musical compositions and/or administration rights. In other instances, those contracts only convey to Warner/Chappell rights to administer musical compositions for a period of time without conveying a copyright ownership interest. Our contracts grant us exclusive exploitation rights in the territories concerned excepting any pre-existing arrangements. Many of our contracts grant us rights on a worldwide basis. Warner/Chappell customarily possesses administration rights for every musical composition created by the writer or composer during the duration of the contract.

While the duration of the contract may vary, many of our contracts grant us ownership and/or administration rights for the duration of copyright. See “Intellectual Property-Copyrights.” U.S. copyright law permits authors or their estates to terminate an assignment or license of copyright (for the U.S. only) after a set period of time. See “Risk Factors—We face a potential loss of catalog to the extent that recording artists have a right to recapture rights in their recordings under the U.S. Copyright Act.”

Competition

In both Recorded Music and Music Publishing we compete based on price (to retailers in recorded music and to various end users in music publishing), on marketing and promotion (including both how we allocate our marketing and promotion resources as well as how much we spend on a dollar basis) and on artist signings. We believe we currently compete favorably in these areas.

Our Recorded Music business is also dependent on technological development, including access to, selection and viability of new technologies, and is subject to potential pressure from competitors as a result of their technological developments. In recent years, due to the growth in piracy, we have been forced to compete with illegal channels such as unauthorized, online, peer-to-peer filesharing and CD-R activity. See “Industry Overview—Recorded Music—Piracy.” Additionally, we compete, to a lesser extent, for disposable consumer income with alternative forms of entertainment, content and leisure activities, such as cable and satellite television, pre-recorded films on DVD, the Internet, computers, mobile applications and videogames.

The recorded music industry is highly competitive based on consumer preferences, and is rapidly changing. At its core, the recorded music business relies on the exploitation of artistic talent. As such, competitive strength is predicated upon the ability to continually develop and market new artists whose work gains commercial acceptance. According to Music and Copyright, in 2014, the three largest major record companies were Universal Music, Sony Music and us, which collectively accounted for 74% of worldwide recorded music sales. There are many mid-sized and smaller players in the industry that accounted for the remaining 26%, including independent music companies. Universal Music was the market leader with a 34% worldwide market share in 2014 after absorbing the bulk of the recorded music assets of the former EMI in late 2012, followed by Sony Music with a 23% share. We held a 17% share of worldwide recorded music sales globally in 2014.

The music publishing business is also highly competitive. The top three music publishers collectively accounted for 65% of the market. Based on Music & Copyright’s most recent estimates published in April 2015, Sony/ATV was the market leader in music publishing in 2014 with a 30% share (reflecting its administration of the EMI music publishing assets).  Universal Music Publishing, having acquired BMG Music Publishing Group in 2007, was the second largest music publisher with a 23% share, followed by us (Warner/Chappell) at 13%. There are many mid-sized and smaller players in the industry that represent the balance of the market, including many individual songwriters who publish their own works.

Intellectual Property

Copyrights

Our business, like that of other companies involved in music publishing and recorded music, rests on our ability to maintain rights in musical works and recordings through copyright protection. In the U.S., copyright protection for works created as “works made for hire” (e.g., works of employees or certain specially commissioned works) on or after January 1, 1978 generally lasts for 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first. The period of copyright protection for works created

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on or after January 1, 1978 that are not “works made for hire” lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. Works created and published or registered in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1978 generally enjoy a total copyright life of 95 years, subject to compliance with certain statutory provisions including notice and renewal. In the U.S., sound recordings created prior to February 15, 1972 are not subject to federal copyright protection but are protected by common law rights or state statutes, where applicable. The term of copyright in the European Union (“E.U.”) for musical compositions in all member states lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. In the E.U., the term of copyright for sound recordings lasts for 70 years from the date of release in respect of sound recordings that were still in copyright on November 1, 2013 and for 50 years from date of release in respect of sound recordings the copyright in which had expired by that date. The E.U. also recently harmonized the copyright term for joint musical works. In the case of a musical composition with words that is protected by copyright on or after November 1, 2013, E.U. member states are required to calculate the life of the author plus 70 years term from the date of death of the last surviving author of the lyrics and the composer of the musical composition, provided that both contributions were specifically created for the respective song.

We are largely dependent on legislation in each territory in which we operate to protect our rights against unauthorized reproduction, distribution, public performance or rental. In all territories where we operate, our products receive some degree of copyright protection, although the extent of effective protection varies widely. In a number of developing countries, the protection of copyright remains inadequate.

Technological changes have focused attention on the need for new legislation that will adequately protect the rights of producers. We actively lobby in favor of industry efforts to increase copyright protection and support the efforts of organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (“IFPI”) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”).

Trademarks

We consider our trademarks to be valuable assets to our business. As such, we endeavor to register our major trademarks in every country where we believe the protection of these trademarks is important for our business. Our major trademarks include Atlantic, Elektra, Sire, Reprise, Parlophone, Rhino, WEA and Warner/Chappell. We also use certain trademarks pursuant to royalty-free license agreements. Of these, the duration of the license relating to the WARNER and WARNER MUSIC marks and “W” logo is perpetual. The duration of the license relating to the WARNER BROS. RECORDS mark and WB & Shield designs is fifteen years from February 29, 2004. Each of the licenses may be terminated under certain limited circumstances, which may include material breaches of the agreement, certain events of insolvency, and certain change of control events if we were to become controlled by a major filmed entertainment company. We actively monitor and protect against activities that might infringe, dilute, or otherwise harm our trademarks.

Joint Ventures

We have entered into joint venture arrangements pursuant to which we or our various subsidiary companies manufacture, distribute and market (in most cases, domestically and internationally) recordings owned by the joint ventures. An example of this arrangement is Frank Sinatra Enterprises, a joint venture established to administer licenses for use of Frank Sinatra’s name and likeness and manage all aspects of his music, film and stage content.

Employees

As of September 30, 2015, we employed approximately 4,211 persons worldwide, including temporary and part-time employees. None of our employees in the U.S. are subject to a collective bargaining agreement, although certain employees in our non-domestic companies are covered by national labor agreements. We believe that our relationship with our employees is good.

Financial Information About Segments

Financial and other information by segment, and relating to foreign and domestic operations, and customer concentration for each of the last three fiscal years is set forth in Note 15 to the Consolidated Audited Financial Statements.

INDUSTRY OVERVIEW

Recorded Music

Recorded music is one of the primary mediums of entertainment for consumers worldwide and in calendar year 2014, according to IFPI, generated $15.0 billion in trade value of sales. Over time, major recorded music companies have built significant recorded music catalogs, which are long-lived assets that are exploited year after year. The sale of catalog material is typically more profitable

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than that of new releases, given lower development costs and more limited marketing costs. Through the end of the third calendar quarter of 2015 (i.e., the week ending October 1, 2015), according to SoundScan, 53% of all calendar year-to-date U.S. album unit sales were from recordings more than 18 months old, with 44% from recordings more than three years old.

According to IFPI, the top five territories (the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., and France) collectively accounted for 74% of the related sales in the recorded music market in calendar year 2014. The U.S., which is the most significant exporter of music, is also the largest territory for recorded music sales, constituting 33% of total calendar year 2014 recorded music sales on a trade value basis. The U.S. and Japan are largely local music markets, with 93% and 83% of their calendar year 2014 physical music sales consisting of domestic repertoire, respectively. In contrast, markets like the U.K. have higher percentages of international sales, with domestic repertoire in that territory constituting a relatively lower 52% of physical music sales.

There has been a major shift in distribution of recorded music from specialty shops towards mass-market and online retailers in recent years. According to RIAA, record stores’ share of U.S. music sales declined from 45% in calendar year 1999 to 30% in calendar year 2008, and according to the market research firm NPD, record/entertainment/electronics stores’ share of U.S. music sales totaled 18% in 2009. U.S. mass-market and other stores’ share grew from 38% in calendar 1999 to 54% in calendar year 2004, and with the subsequent growth of sales via online channels since that time, their share contracted to 28% in calendar year 2008. Mass-market retailers accounted for 17% of total industry unit sales calculated on a total album plus digital track equivalent (ten tracks per album) unit basis in the U.S. in calendar year 2014, according to SoundScan data. In recent years, online sales of physical product as well as digital downloads have grown to represent an increasing share of U.S. unit sales and combined they accounted for 69% of total industry unit sales in calendar year 2014. In addition, revenues resulting from music streaming services now represent a significant share of the overall recorded music market in the U.S. Data published by the RIAA shows that when the streaming category was taken into account, it was responsible for 27% of total estimated industry retail value in calendar year 2014. In terms of genre, rock remains the most popular style of music in the U.S. overall, representing 29% of the music purchased and consumed on streaming services in the U.S. in calendar year 2014, as captured and calculated by Nielsen Entertainment, although genres such as rap/hip-hop, R&B, country, pop, electronic/dance music (EDM), and Latin music are also popular and outperform in specific formats.

According to RIAA, from calendar years 1990 to 1999, the U.S. recorded music industry grew at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6%. This growth, largely paralleled around the world, was driven by demand for music, the replacement of vinyl LPs and cassettes with CDs, price increases and strong economic growth. The industry began experiencing negative growth rates in calendar year 1999, on a global basis, primarily driven by an increase in digital piracy. Other drivers of this decline were and are the overall recessionary economic environment, bankruptcies of record retailers and wholesalers, growing competition for consumer discretionary spending and retail shelf space and the maturation of the CD format, which has slowed the historical growth pattern of recorded music sales. Since that time, annual dollar sales of physical music product in the U.S. are estimated to have declined at a compound annual growth rate of 12%, although there was a 2.5% year-over-year increase recorded in 2004. In calendar year 2014, the physical business experienced a 7% year-over-year decline on a value basis. Performance in calendar year 2015 thus far suggests that declines may be sustained this year as well. According to SoundScan, through the end of calendar Q3 2015 (i.e., the week ending October 1, 2015), calendar year-to-date U.S. recorded music album unit sales (excluding sales of digital tracks) were down 4% year-over-year. According to SoundScan, adding digital track sales to the unit album totals based on SoundScan’s standard ten-tracks-per-album equivalent, the U.S. music industry was down 6% in overall album unit sales calendar year-to-date through Q3 2015, reflecting greater softness in digital track sales compared to full album sales this year. The overall declining trend that has been experienced in the U.S. has also been witnessed in international markets, with the extent of declines driven primarily by differing penetration levels of piracy-enabling technologies, such as broadband access and CD-R technology, and economic conditions.

Notwithstanding these factors, we believe that music industry results could improve based on the continued mobilization of the industry as a whole against piracy and the development and broad adoption of legitimate digital distribution channels.

Piracy

One of the industry’s biggest challenges is combating piracy. Music piracy exists in two primary forms: digital (which includes illegal downloading and CD-R piracy) and industrial:

 

Digital piracy has grown dramatically, enabled by the increasing penetration of broadband Internet access and the ubiquity of powerful microprocessors, fast optical drives (particularly with writable media, such as CD-R) and large inexpensive disk storage in personal computers. The combination of these technologies has allowed consumers to easily, flawlessly and almost instantaneously make high-quality copies of music using a home computer by “ripping” or converting musical content from CDs into digital files, stored on local disks. These digital files can then be distributed for free over the Internet through anonymous peer-to-peer filesharing networks such as BitTorrent and Frostwire (“illegal downloading”). Alternatively, these files can be burned onto multiple CDs for physical distribution (“CD-R piracy”). IFPI identified more

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than 40 million infringing music files for removal online in 2014, a fraction of the tens of billions of files that are estimated to be downloaded illegally.  

 

Industrial piracy (also called counterfeiting or physical piracy) involves mass production of illegal CDs in factories. This form of piracy is largely concentrated in developing regions, and has existed for more than two decades. The sale of legitimate recorded music in these developing territories is limited by the dominance of pirated products, which are sold at substantially lower prices than legitimate products. Based upon most recent data available, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) estimated that U.S. trade losses due to physical piracy of records and music in 39 key countries/territories around the world with copyright protection and/or enforcement deficiencies totaled $1.5 billion in 2009. At that time, the IIPA believed that piracy of records and music was most prevalent in territories such as Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Mexico, India and Argentina, where piracy levels were at 60% or above.

In 2003, the industry launched an intensive campaign to limit piracy that focused on four key initiatives:

 

Technological: The technological measures against piracy are geared towards degrading the illegal filesharing process and tracking providers and consumers of pirated music. These measures include spoofing, watermarking, copy protection, the use of automated webcrawlers and access restrictions.

 

Educational: Led by RIAA and IFPI, the industry launched an aggressive campaign of consumer education designed to spread awareness of the illegality of various forms of piracy through aggressive print and television advertisements. These efforts have yielded positive results in impacting consumer behaviors and attitudes with regard to filesharing of music. A survey conducted by The NPD Group, a market research firm, in December 2013 showed that about 1 in 10 U.S. Internet users aged 13 or older who stopped or decreased their usage of filesharing services for music in the year covered by the survey were motivated by concerns about being sued and/or the legality of such services, as well as moral implications. Research conducted by Ipsos across 13 countries, as cited in the IFPI Digital Music Report 2015, found that a majority (52%) of respondents agreed that “downloading or streaming without the copyright owners’ permission was theft.”

 

Legal: In conjunction with its educational efforts, the industry has taken aggressive legal action against commercial file-sharing sites, as well as cooperating with law-enforcement when criminal cases are appropriate. In April 2015, the industry reached a settlement agreement with Grooveshark that completely shut down its unauthorized streaming service.  In September, the file-sharing sites Sharebeast and Albumjams.com, which were sources of a large number of pre-release leaks and millions of unpaid downloads, were shut down by the FBI.  In addition, the industry has been successful in obtaining blocking orders in many countries, including the U.K., France, Italy, South Korea, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, that make it more difficult for end users to access infringing sites, such as Bit Torrent sites. Finally, in both China and Russia, the courts have been more willing to issue rulings to combat unauthorized distribution.  Such rulings allow for the potential growth of licensed services in these countries, which have been stymied by rampant content piracy.

 

Development of online and mobile alternatives: We believe that the development and success of legitimate digital music channels will be an important driver of recorded music sales and monetization going forward, as they represent both revenue stream and a potential inhibitor of piracy. The music industry has been encouraged by the proliferation and success of legitimate digital music distribution options. We believe that these legitimate online distribution channels offer several advantages to illegal peer-to-peer networks, including greater ease of use, higher quality and more consistent music product, faster downloading and streaming, better search and discovery capabilities and seamless integration with portable digital music players. Legitimate online download stores and streaming music services began to be established in 2001 beginning with the launch of Rhapsody in late 2001 and continuing through the launch of Apple’s iTunes music store in April 2003. Since then, many others (both large and small) have launched download and ad-supported and subscription streaming music services, offering a variety of models, including per-track pricing, per-album pricing and monthly subscriptions. According to IFPI in the 2015 edition of their annual “Recording Industry in Numbers” publication, there are over 400 legal digital music services providing alternatives to illegal filesharing in markets around the world, with major international services operating in more than 150 territories. Devices such as smartphones and tablets that are equipped with new capabilities are increasingly offering consumers greater capability to acquire and consume full-track downloads and streaming audio and video through mobile platforms as well as online. These devices are further facilitating usage of legitimate options.

These efforts are incremental to the long-standing push by organizations such as RIAA and IFPI to curb industrial piracy around the world. In addition to these actions, the music industry is increasingly coordinating with other similarly impacted industries (such as software and filmed entertainment) to combat piracy.

We believe these actions have contained piracy levels. A survey conducted by MusicWatch covering activity in the second calendar quarter of 2015 showed that incidence of peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing of music among U.S. Internet users aged 13 or older was essentially flat versus earlier quarters. The survey also reflected that other types of unauthorized music sharing, such as the

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downloading of music via mobile apps, and exchanging of music files via email and instant messaging (IM) services, was stable compared to the fourth calendar quarter of 2014.

Internationally, we believe governmental initiatives designed to protect intellectual property should also be helpful to the music industry and measures are being adopted in an increasing number of countries to achieve better ISP cooperation. Solutions to online piracy and making progress towards meaningful ISP cooperation against online piracy are also being adopted or pursued through government-sponsored negotiations of codes of practice or cross-industry agreements and remedies arising out of litigation, such as obtaining injunctions requiring ISPs to block access to infringing sites. We believe these actions, as well as other actions also currently being taken in many countries around the world, represent a positive trend internationally and a recognition by governments around the world that urgent action is required to reduce online piracy and in particular unlawful filesharing because of the harm caused to the creative industries. While these governmental actions have not come without some controversy, we continue to lobby for legislative change through music industry bodies and trade associations in jurisdictions where enforcement of copyright in the context of online piracy remains problematic due to existing local laws or prior court decisions.

Music Publishing

Background

Music publishing involves the acquisition of rights to, and licensing of, musical compositions (as opposed to recordings) from songwriters, composers or other rightsholders. Music publishing revenues are derived from five main royalty sources: Mechanical, Performance, Synchronization, Digital and Other.

In the U.S., mechanical royalties are collected by music publishers from recorded music companies or via The Harry Fox Agency, a non-exclusive licensing agent affiliated with NMPA, while outside the U.S., collection societies generally perform this function. Once mechanical royalties reach the publisher (either directly from record companies or from collection societies), percentages of those royalties are paid or credited to the writer or other rightsholder of the copyright in accordance with the underlying rights agreement. Mechanical royalties are paid at a penny rate of 9.1 cents per song per unit in the U.S. for physical formats (e.g., CDs and vinyl albums) and permanent digital downloads (recordings in excess of five minutes attract a higher rate) and 24 cents for ringtones. There are also rates set for interactive streaming and non-permanent downloads based on a formula that takes into account revenues paid by consumers or advertisers with certain minimum royalties that may apply depending on the type of service. “Controlled composition” provisions contained in some recording agreements may apply to the rates mentioned above pursuant to which artist/songwriters license their rights to their record companies for as little as 75% of the statutory rates. The current U.S. statutory mechanical rates will remain in effect through December 31, 2017. In most other territories, mechanical royalties are based on a percentage of wholesale prices for physical product and based on a percentage of consumer prices for digital products. In international markets, these rates are determined by multi-year collective bargaining agreements and rate tribunals.

Throughout the world, performance royalties are typically collected on behalf of publishers and songwriters by performance rights organizations and collection societies. Key performing rights organizations and collection societies include: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), SESAC and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in the U.S.; Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society and The Performing Right Society (“MCPS/PRS”) in the U.K.; The German Copyright Society in Germany (“GEMA”) and the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Japan (“JASRAC”). The societies pay a percentage (which is set in each country) of the performance royalties to the copyright owner(s) or administrators (i.e., the publisher(s)), and a percentage directly to the songwriter(s), of the composition. Thus, the publisher generally retains the performance royalties it receives other than any amounts attributable to co-publishers.

The music publishing market has proven to be more resilient than the recorded music market in recent years as revenue streams other than mechanical royalties are largely unaffected by piracy, and are benefiting from additional sources of income from digital exploitation of music in downloads and streaming. The worldwide professional music publishing market was estimated to have generated $4.05 billion in revenues in calendar year 2014 according to figures published in April 2015 by Music & Copyright.

In addition, major publishers have the opportunity to generate significant value by the acquisition of other music publishers by extracting cost savings (as acquired libraries can be administered with little incremental cost) and by increasing revenues through more aggressive marketing efforts.

 

ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS

In addition to the other information contained in this annual report on Form 10-K, certain risk factors should be considered carefully in evaluating our business. The risks and uncertainties described below may not be the only ones facing us. Additional risks and uncertainties that we do not currently know about or that we currently believe are immaterial may also adversely impact our

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business operations. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations would likely suffer.

Risks Related to Our Business

The recorded music industry has been declining and may continue to decline, which may adversely affect our prospects and our results of operations.

The industry has experienced negative growth rates on a global basis since 1999 and the worldwide recorded music market has contracted considerably. Illegal downloading of music, CD-R piracy, industrial piracy, economic recession, bankruptcies of record wholesalers and retailers, and growing competition for consumer discretionary spending and retail shelf space may have all contributed to the decline in the recorded music industry. Additionally, the period of growth in recorded music sales driven by the introduction and penetration of the CD format has long ended. While CD sales still generate a significant portion of the recorded music revenues globally, CD sales continue to decline industry-wide and we expect that trend to continue. However, new formats for selling recorded music product have been created, including the legal downloading and streaming of digital music and revenue streams from these new channels have emerged. These new digital revenue streams are important as they are partially offsetting declines in physical sales and represent a growing area of our Recorded Music business. In addition, we are also taking steps to broaden our revenue mix into growing areas of the music business, including sponsorship, fan clubs, artist websites, merchandising, touring, concert promotion, ticketing and artist management. As our expansion into these new areas is fairly recent, we cannot determine how our expansion into these new areas will impact our business. Despite these factors, the industry continues to be negatively impacted as a result of ongoing digital piracy and the transition from physical to digital sales in the recorded music business. Accordingly, the recorded music industry performance may continue to negatively impact our operating results. While it is believed within the recorded music industry that growth in digital revenues will re-establish a growth pattern for recorded music sales, the timing of the recovery cannot be established with accuracy nor can it be determined how these changes will affect individual markets. A declining recorded music industry is likely to lead to reduced levels of revenue and operating income generated by our Recorded Music business. Additionally, a declining recorded music industry is also likely to have a negative impact on our Music Publishing business, which generates a significant portion of its revenues from mechanical royalties attributable to the sale of music in CD and other physical recorded music formats. Digital downloads remain a key revenue stream for the recorded music industry, and there has been ample growth in the streaming category, resulting in the latter’s increasing contribution to overall industry digital revenues. According to IFPI, digital downloads accounted for 52% of digital revenues in 2014. Streaming revenue, which includes revenue from ad-supported and subscription services, accounted for 32% of digital revenues in 2014, up 7 percentage points year-over-year. Although revenues from digital downloads fell by 8% in 2014, the decline was offset by an increase in streaming revenue, helping digital revenues grow by 6.9%. Streaming models comprise a range of margins. For some streaming models, our margins are superior to those for downloads and for others, our margins are slightly less. We expect these trends to continue to impact our results for the foreseeable future.

There may be downward pressure on our pricing and our profit margins and reductions in shelf space.

There are a variety of factors that could cause us to reduce our prices and reduce our profit margins. They are, among others, price competition from the sale of motion pictures and videogames in physical and digital formats, the negotiating leverage of mass merchandisers, big-box retailers and distributors of digital music, the increased costs of doing business with mass merchandisers and big-box retailers as a result of complying with operating procedures that are unique to their needs and any changes in costs or profit margins associated with new digital business, including the impact of ad-supported music services, some of which may be able to avail themselves of “safe harbor” defenses against copyright infringement actions under copyright laws. In addition, we are currently dependent on a small number of leading digital music services, which allows them to significantly influence the prices we can charge in connection with the distribution of digital music. Over the course of the last decade, U.S. mass-market and other stores’ share of U.S. physical music sales has continued to grow. While we cannot predict how future competition will impact music retailers, as the music industry continues to transform it is possible that the share of music sales by a small number of leading mass-market retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, as well as online retailers and digital music services such as Amazon, Apple Music and Google Play will continue to grow, which could further increase their negotiating leverage and put pressure on profit margins. See “—We are substantially dependent on a limited number of digital music services, in particular Apple’s iTunes Music Store, for the online sale of our music recordings and they are able to significantly influence the pricing structure for online music stores.”

Our prospects and financial results may be adversely affected if we fail to identify, sign and retain artists and songwriters and by the existence or absence of superstar releases and by local economic conditions in the countries in which we operate.

We are dependent on identifying, signing and retaining recording artists with long-term potential, whose debut albums are well received on release, whose subsequent albums are anticipated by consumers and whose music will continue to generate sales as part of our catalog for years to come. The competition among record companies for such talent is intense. Competition among record

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companies to sell records is also intense. We are also dependent on signing and retaining songwriters who will write the hit songs of today and the classics of tomorrow. Our competitive position is dependent on our continuing ability to attract and develop artists whose work can achieve a high degree of public acceptance. Our financial results may be adversely affected if we are unable to identify, sign and retain such artists under terms that are economically attractive to us. Our financial results may also be affected by the existence or absence of superstar artist releases during a particular period. Some music industry observers believe that the number of superstar acts with long-term appeal, both in terms of catalog sales and future releases, has declined in recent years. Additionally, our financial results are generally affected by the worldwide economic and retail environment, as well as the appeal of our Recorded Music catalog and our Music Publishing library to consumers.

We may have difficulty addressing the threats to our business associated with digital piracy.

The combined effect of the decreasing cost of electronic and computer equipment and related technology such as the conversion of music into digital formats have made it easier for consumers to obtain and create unauthorized copies of our recordings in the form of, for example, MP3 files. For example, about 95% of the music downloaded in 2008, or more than 40 billion files, were illegal and not paid for, according to IFPI’s 2009 Digital Music Report. Separately, data provided by comScore and Nielsen and cited by IFPI in IFPI’s 2015 Digital Music Report indicates that 20% of Internet users globally still access unauthorized digital sites/services on desktop-based devices on a regular basis. In addition, while growth of music-enabled mobile consumers offers distinct opportunities for music companies such as ours, it also opens the market up to risks from behaviors such as “sideloading” and mobile app-based downloading of unauthorized content. As the business shifts to streaming music or access models, piracy in these models is increasing. For example, the practice of “stream-ripping,” where websites or software programs enable end-users to obtain an unauthorized copy of the audio file associated with a music video, is a growing practice among young people and in parts of the world with high mobile data costs. A substantial portion of our revenue comes from the sale of audio products and streaming services that are potentially subject to unauthorized consumer copying and widespread digital dissemination without an economic return to us. The impact of digital piracy on legitimate music sales and subscriptions is hard to quantify but we believe that illegal filesharing has a substantial negative impact on music sales. We are working to control this problem in a variety of ways including by litigation, by lobbying governments for new, stronger copyright protection laws and more stringent enforcement of current laws, through graduated response programs achieved through cooperation with ISPs and legislation being advanced or considered in many countries, through technological measures and by enabling legitimate new media business models. We cannot give any assurances that such measures will be effective. If we fail to obtain appropriate relief through the judicial process or the complete enforcement of judicial decisions issued in our favor (or if judicial decisions are not in our favor), if we are unsuccessful in our efforts to lobby governments to enact and enforce stronger legal penalties for copyright infringement or if we fail to develop effective means of protecting our intellectual property (whether copyrights or other rights such as patents, trademarks and trade secrets) or our entertainment-related products or services, our results of operations, financial position and prospects may suffer.

Organized industrial piracy may lead to decreased sales.

The global organized commercial pirate trade is a significant threat to content industries, including the music sector. A 2011 study by Frontier Economics cited by IFPI, estimates that digitally pirated music, movies and software was valued at $30 billion to $75 billion and IFPI’s 2015 Digital Music Report cited research conducted by MediaLink on behalf of the Digital Citizens Alliance that placed advertising revenues generated by 596 piracy sites at $227 million. In addition, a 2010 economic study conducted by Tera Consultants in Europe found that if left unabated, digital piracy could result in an estimated loss of 240 billion Euros in retail revenues for the creative industries—including music—in Europe over the period from 2008 to 2015. Unauthorized copies and piracy have contributed to the decrease in the volume of legitimate sales. They have had, and may continue to have, an adverse effect on our business.

Legitimate channels for digital distribution of our creative content are a fairly recent development, and their impact on our business is unclear and may be adverse.

We have positioned ourselves to take advantage of online and mobile technology as a sales distribution channel and believe that the continued development of legitimate channels for digital music distribution holds promise for us in the future. Digital revenue streams of all kinds are important to offset continued declining revenue from physical CD sales industry-wide over time. However, legitimate channels for digital distribution are a fairly recent development and we cannot predict their impact on our business. In digital formats, certain costs associated with physical products such as manufacturing, distribution, inventory and return costs do not apply. Partially eroding that benefit are increases in mechanical copyright royalties payable to music publishers that only apply in the digital space. While there are some digital-specific variable costs and infrastructure investments necessary to produce and sell music in digital formats, we believe it is reasonable to expect that we will generally derive a higher contribution margin from digital sales than physical sales. However, we cannot be sure that we will generally continue to achieve higher margins from digital sales especially as an ever greater percentage of our digital revenue comes from sources other than downloads. Any legitimate digital distribution channel that does develop may result in lower or less profitable sales for us than comparable physical sales. In addition,

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the mix of digital services is changing and not all services will be equally remunerative. Ad-supported music services, some of which may be able to avail themselves of “safe harbor” defenses against copyright infringement actions under copyright laws, may be substitutional for more remunerative paid services. In addition, the transition to greater sales through digital channels has introduced uncertainty regarding the potential impact of the “unbundling” of the album on our business. In addition, if piracy continues unabated and legitimate digital distribution channels fail to continue to gain consumer acceptance, our results of operations could be harmed. Furthermore, as new distribution channels continue to develop, we may have to implement systems to process royalties on new revenue streams for potential future distribution channels that are not currently known. These new distribution channels could also result in increases in the number of transactions that we need to process. If we are not able to successfully expand our processing capability or introduce technology to allow us to determine and pay royalty amounts due on these new types of transactions in a timely manner, we may experience processing delays or reduced accuracy as we increase the volume of our digital sales, which could have a negative effect on our relationships with artists and brand identity.

We are substantially dependent on a limited number of digital music services, in particular Apple’s iTunes Music Store, for the online sale of our music recordings and they are able to significantly influence the pricing structure for online music stores.

We derive an increasing portion of our revenues from sales of music through digital distribution channels. We are currently dependent on a small number of leading digital music services that sell consumers digital music. Currently, the largest U.S. online music store, iTunes, typically charges U.S. consumers prices ranging from $0.69 to $1.29 per single-track download. We have limited ability to increase our wholesale prices to digital service providers for digital downloads as Apple’s iTunes controls the majority of the legitimate digital music track download business in the United States according to third-party estimates. If Apple’s iTunes were to adopt a lower pricing model or if there were structural changes to other download pricing models, we may receive substantially less per download for our music, which could cause a material reduction in our revenues, unless it is offset by a corresponding increase in the number of downloads. Additionally, Apple’s iTunes and other digital music services at present accept and make available for sale all the recordings that we and other distributors deliver to them. However, if digital music services in the future decide to limit the types or amount of music they will accept from music-based content owners like us, our revenues could be significantly reduced.

Our involvement in intellectual property litigation could adversely affect our business.

Our business is highly dependent upon intellectual property, an area that has encountered increased litigation in recent years. If we are alleged to infringe the intellectual property rights of a third-party, any litigation to defend the claim could be costly and would divert the time and resources of management, regardless of the merits of the claim. There can be no assurance that we would prevail in any such litigation. If we were to lose a litigation relating to intellectual property, we could be forced to pay monetary damages and to cease the sale of certain products or the use of certain technology. Any of the foregoing may adversely affect our business.

Due to the nature of our business, our results of operations and cash flows may fluctuate significantly from period to period.

Our net sales, operating income and profitability, like those of other companies in the music business, are largely affected by the number and quality of albums that we release or that include musical compositions published by us, timing of release schedules and, more importantly, the consumer demand for these releases. We also make advance payments to recording artists and songwriters, which impact our operating cash flows. The timing of album releases and advance payments is largely based on business and other considerations and is made without regard to the impact of the timing of the release on our financial results. We report results of operations quarterly and our results of operations and cash flows in any reporting period may be materially affected by the timing of releases and advance payments, which may result in significant fluctuations from period to period.

We may be unable to compete successfully in the highly competitive markets in which we operate and we may suffer reduced profits as a result.

The industries in which we operate are highly competitive, have experienced ongoing consolidation among major music companies, are based on consumer preferences and are rapidly changing. Additionally, they require substantial human and capital resources. We compete with other recorded music companies and music publishers to identify and sign new recording artists and songwriters who subsequently achieve long-term success and to renew agreements with established artists and songwriters. In addition, our competitors may from time to time increase the amounts they spend to lure, or to market and promote, recording artists and songwriters or reduce the prices of their products in an effort to expand market share. We may lose business if we are unable to sign successful recording artists or songwriters or to match the prices of the products offered by our competitors. Our Recorded Music business competes not only with other recorded music companies, but also with the recorded music efforts of live events companies and recording artists who may choose to distribute their own works. Our Music Publishing business competes not only with other music publishing companies, but also with songwriters who publish their own works. Our Recorded Music business is to a large extent dependent on technological developments, including access to and selection and viability of new technologies, and is subject to potential pressure from competitors as a result of their technological developments. For example, our Recorded Music business may

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be further adversely affected by technological developments that facilitate the piracy of music, such as Internet peer-to-peer filesharing and CD-R activity, by an inability to enforce our intellectual property rights in digital environments and by a failure to develop successful business models applicable to a digital environment. The Recorded Music business also faces competition from other forms of entertainment and leisure activities, such as cable and satellite television, motion pictures and videogames in physical and digital formats.

Our business operations in some foreign countries subject us to trends, developments or other events which may affect us adversely.

We are a global company with strong local presences, which have become increasingly important as the popularity of music originating from a country’s own language and culture has increased in recent years. Our mix of national and international recording artists and songwriters provides a significant degree of diversification for our music portfolio. However, our creative content does not necessarily enjoy universal appeal. As a result, our results can be affected not only by general industry trends, but also by trends, developments or other events in individual countries, including:

 

limited legal protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;

 

restrictions on the repatriation of capital;

 

fluctuations in interest and foreign exchange rates;

 

differences and unexpected changes in regulatory environment, including environmental, health and safety, local planning, zoning and labor laws, rules and regulations;

 

varying tax regimes which could adversely affect our results of operations or cash flows, including regulations relating to transfer pricing and withholding taxes on remittances and other payments by subsidiaries and joint ventures;

 

exposure to different legal standards and enforcement mechanisms and the associated cost of compliance;

 

difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified management and employees or rationalizing our workforce;

 

tariffs, duties, export controls and other trade barriers;

 

longer accounts receivable settlement cycles and difficulties in collecting accounts receivable;

 

recessionary trends, inflation and instability of the financial markets;

 

higher interest rates; and

 

political instability.

We may not be able to insure or hedge against these risks, and we may not be able to ensure compliance with all of the applicable regulations without incurring additional costs. For example, our results for the fiscal year 2015 were impacted by the continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar against most currencies. See “—Unfavorable currency exchange rate fluctuations could adversely affect our results of operations.” Furthermore, financing may not be available in countries with less than investment-grade sovereign credit ratings. As a result, it may be difficult to create or maintain profit-making operations in developing countries.

In addition, our results can be affected by trends, developments and other events in individual countries. There can be no assurance that in the future other country-specific trends, developments or other events will not have such a significant adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition. Unfavorable conditions can depress sales in any given market and prompt promotional or other actions that affect our margins.

Our business may be adversely affected by competitive market conditions and we may not be able to execute our business strategy.

We expect to increase revenues and cash flow through a business strategy which requires us, among other things, to continue to maximize the value of our music assets, to significantly reduce costs to maximize flexibility and adjust to new realities of the market, to continue to act to contain digital piracy and to diversify our revenue streams into growing segments of the music business by entering into expanded-rights deals with recording artists and by operating our artist services businesses and to capitalize on digital distribution and emerging technologies.

Each of these initiatives requires sustained management focus, organization and coordination over significant periods of time. Each of these initiatives also requires success in building relationships with third parties and in anticipating and keeping up with technological developments and consumer preferences and may involve the implementation of new business models or distribution

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platforms. The results of our strategy and the success of our implementation of this strategy will not be known for some time in the future. If we are unable to implement our strategy successfully or properly react to changes in market conditions, our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be adversely affected.

Our ability to operate effectively could be impaired if we fail to attract and retain our executive officers.

Our success depends, in part, upon the continuing contributions of our executive officers, however, there is no guarantee that they will not leave. Some of our executive officers have employment arrangements. We do not have a direct employment arrangement with our CEO and certain of our other executive officers have at-will employment letters. Our CEO and each of our executive officers who have at-will employment letters have elected to participate in the Warner Music Group Corp. Senior Management Cash Flow Plan, and the at-will employment letters were a condition to their participation in the Plan. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers or the failure to attract other executive officers could have a material adverse effect on our business or our business prospects.

A significant portion of our Music Publishing revenues is subject to rate regulation either by government entities or by local third-party collection societies throughout the world and rates on other income streams may be set by governmental proceedings, which may limit our profitability.

Mechanical royalties and performance royalties are the two largest sources of income to our Music Publishing business and mechanical royalties are a significant expense to our Recorded Music business. In the United States, mechanical royalty rates are set pursuant to an administrative rate-setting process under the U.S. Copyright Act, unless rates are determined through voluntary industry negotiations, and performance royalty rates are set by performing rights societies and subject to challenge by performing rights licensees. Mechanical royalties are paid at a penny rate of 9.1 cents per song per unit in the United States for physical formats (e.g., CDs and vinyl albums) and permanent digital downloads (recordings in excess of five minutes attract a higher rate) and 24 cents for ringtones. Outside the United States, mechanical and performance royalty rates are typically negotiated on an industry-wide basis. In most territories outside the United States, mechanical royalties are based on a percentage of wholesale prices for physical product and based on a percentage of consumer prices for digital products. The mechanical and performance royalty rates set pursuant to such processes may adversely affect us by limiting our ability to increase the profitability of our Music Publishing business. If the mechanical royalty rates are set too high it may also adversely affect us by limiting our ability to increase the profitability of our Recorded Music business. In addition, rates our Recorded Music business receives in the United States for, among other sources of income and potential income, webcasting and satellite radio are set by an administrative process under the U.S. Copyright Act unless rates are determined through voluntary industry negotiations. In January 2014, the Copyright Royalty judges announced the commencement of a proceeding to determine the rates and terms for non-interactive webcasting in the United States for the period running from 2016 to 2020. We are unable to predict the outcome of this proceeding, but any reduction in the rates would adversely affect our Recorded Music business. It is important as sales shift from physical to diversified distribution channels that we receive fair value for all of the uses of our intellectual property as our business model now depends upon multiple revenue streams from multiple sources. If the rates for Recorded Music income sources that are established through legally prescribed rate-setting processes are set too low, it could have a material adverse impact on our Recorded Music business or our business prospects.

An impairment in the carrying value of goodwill or other intangible and long-lived assets could negatively affect our operating results and equity.

As of September 30, 2015, we had $1.632 billion of goodwill and $119 million of indefinite-lived intangible assets. Financial Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 350, Intangibles—Goodwill and other (“ASC 350”) requires that we test these assets for impairment annually (or more frequently should indications of impairment arise) by first assessing qualitative factors and then by quantitatively estimating the fair value of each of our reporting units (calculated using a discounted cash flow method) and comparing that value to the reporting units’ carrying value, if necessary. If the carrying value exceeds the fair value, there is a potential impairment and additional testing must be performed. In performing our annual tests and determining whether indications of impairment exist, we consider numerous factors including actual and projected operating results of each reporting unit, external market factors such as market prices for similar assets and trends in the music industry. The Company performed an annual assessment, at July 1, 2015, of the recoverability of its goodwill and indefinite-lived intangibles as of September 30, 2015, noting no instances of impairment. However, future events may occur that could adversely affect the estimated fair value of our reporting units. Such events may include, but are not limited to, strategic decisions made in response to changes in economic and competitive conditions and the impact of the economic environment on our operating results. Failure to achieve sufficient levels of cash flow at our reporting units could also result in impairment charges on goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets. If the value of the acquired goodwill or acquired indefinite-lived intangible assets is impaired, our operating results and shareholders’ equity could be adversely affected.

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We also had $2.514 billion of definite-lived intangible assets as of September 30, 2015. Financial Accounting Standard Board (“FASB”) ASC Topic 360-10-35, (“ASC 360-10-35”) requires companies to review these assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amounts may not be recoverable. No such events or circumstances were identified during the year ended September 30, 2015. If similar events occur as enumerated above such that we believe indicators of impairment are present, we would test for recoverability by comparing the carrying value of the asset to the net undiscounted cash flows expected to be generated from the asset. If those net undiscounted cash flows do not exceed the carrying amount, we would perform the next step, which is to determine the fair value of the asset, which could result in an impairment charge. Any impairment charge recorded would negatively affect our operating results and shareholders’ equity.

Unfavorable currency exchange rate fluctuations could adversely affect our results of operations.

The reporting currency for our financial statements is the U.S. dollar. We have substantial assets, liabilities, revenues and costs denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars. To prepare our Consolidated Financial Statements, we must translate those assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses into U.S. dollars at then-applicable exchange rates. Consequently, increases and decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies will affect the amount of these items in our Consolidated Financial Statements, even if their value has not changed in their original currency. These translations could result in significant changes to our results of operations from period to period. Prior to intersegment eliminations, 61% of our revenues related to operations in foreign territories for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015. From time to time, we enter into foreign exchange contracts to hedge the risk of unfavorable foreign currency exchange rate movements. During the current fiscal year, we have hedged a portion of our material foreign currency exposures related to royalty payments remitted between our foreign affiliates and our U.S. affiliates.

We may not have full control and ability to direct the operations we conduct through joint ventures.

We currently have interests in a number of joint ventures and may in the future enter into further joint ventures as a means of conducting our business. In addition, we structure certain of our relationships with recording artists and songwriters as joint ventures. We may not be able to fully control the operations and the assets of our joint ventures, and we may not be able to make major decisions or may not be able to take timely actions with respect to our joint ventures unless our joint venture partners agree.

The enactment of legislation limiting the terms by which an individual can be bound under a “personal services” contract could impair our ability to retain the services of key artists.

California Labor Code Section 2855 (“Section 2855”) limits the duration of time any individual can be bound under a contract for “personal services” to a maximum of seven years. In 1987, Subsection (b) was added, which provides a limited exception to Section 2855 for recording contracts, creating a damages remedy for record companies. Legislation was introduced in New York in 2009 to create a statute similar to Section 2855 to limit contracts between artists and record companies to a term of seven years which term could be reduced to three years if the artist was not represented in the negotiation and execution of such contracts by qualified counsel experienced with entertainment industry law and practices. Such legislation could result in certain of our existing contracts with artists being declared unenforceable, or may restrict the terms under which we enter into contracts with artists in the future, either of which could adversely affect our results of operations. There is no assurance that California will not introduce legislation in the future seeking to repeal Subsection (b). The repeal of Subsection (b) and/or the passage of legislation similar to Section 2855 by other states could materially affect our results of operations and financial position.

We face a potential loss of catalog to the extent that our recording artists have a right to recapture rights in their recordings under the U.S. Copyright Act.

The U.S. Copyright Act provides authors (or their heirs) a right to terminate U.S. licenses or assignments of rights in their copyrighted works in certain circumstances. This right does not apply to works that are “works made for hire.” Since the effective date of U.S. federal copyright protection for sound recordings (February 15, 1972), virtually all of our agreements with recording artists provide that such recording artists render services under a work-made-for-hire relationship. A termination right exists under the U.S. Copyright Act for U.S. rights in musical compositions that are not “works made for hire.” If any of our commercially available sound recordings were determined not to be “works made for hire,” then the recording artists (or their heirs) could have the right to terminate the U.S. federal copyright rights they granted to us, generally during a five-year period starting at the end of 35 years from the date of release of a recording under a post-1977 license or assignment (or, in the case of a pre-1978 grant in a pre-1978 recording, generally during a five-year period starting at the end of 56 years from the date of copyright). A termination of U.S. federal copyright rights could have an adverse effect on our Recorded Music business. From time to time, authors (or their heirs) have the opportunity to terminate our U.S. rights in musical compositions. However, we believe the effect of any potential termination is already reflected in the financial results of our Music Publishing business.

22


 

If we acquire, combine with or invest in other businesses, we will face certain risks inherent in such transactions.

We have in the past considered and will continue, from time to time, to consider, opportunistic strategic transactions, which could involve acquisitions, combinations or dispositions of businesses or assets, or strategic alliances or joint ventures with companies engaged in businesses that are similar or complementary to ours. Any such strategic combination could be material, be difficult to implement, disrupt our business or change our business profile significantly.

Any future strategic transaction could involve numerous risks, including:

 

potential disruption of our ongoing business and distraction of management;

 

potential loss of recording artists or songwriters from our rosters;

 

difficulty integrating the acquired businesses or segregating assets to be disposed of;

 

exposure to unknown and/or contingent or other liabilities, including litigation arising in connection with the acquisition, disposition and/or against any businesses we may acquire;

 

reputational or other damages to our business as a result of a failure to consummate such a transaction for, among other reasons, failure to gain anti-trust approval; and

 

changing our business profile in ways that could have unintended consequences.

If we enter into significant strategic transactions in the future, related accounting charges may affect our financial condition and results of operations, particularly in the case of any acquisitions. In addition, the financing of any significant acquisition may result in changes in our capital structure, including the incurrence of additional indebtedness. Conversely, any material disposition could reduce our indebtedness or require the amendment or refinancing of our outstanding indebtedness or a portion thereof. We may not be successful in addressing these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with any strategic transactions. We cannot assure you that if we make any future acquisitions, investments, strategic alliances or joint ventures or enter into any business combination that they will be completed in a timely manner, or at all, that they will be structured or financed in a way that will enhance our creditworthiness or that they will meet our strategic objectives or otherwise be successful. We also may not be successful in implementing appropriate operational, financial and management systems and controls to achieve the benefits expected to result from these transactions. Failure to effectively manage any of these transactions could result in material increases in costs or reductions in expected revenues, or both. In addition, if any new business in which we invest or which we attempt to develop does not progress as planned, we may not recover the funds and resources we have expended and this could have a negative impact on our businesses or our company as a whole.

We have outsourced our information technology infrastructure and certain finance and accounting functions and may outsource other back-office functions, which will make us more dependent upon third parties.

In an effort to make our information technology, or IT, more efficient and increase our IT capabilities and reduce potential disruptions, as well as generate cost savings, we outsource a significant portion of our IT infrastructure functions to a third-party. This outsourcing initiative is a component of our ongoing strategy to monitor our costs and to seek additional cost savings. As a result, we rely on third parties to ensure that our IT needs are sufficiently met. This reliance subjects us to risks arising from the loss of control over IT processes, changes in pricing that may affect our operating results, and potentially, termination of provisions of these services by our supplier. In addition, in an effort to make our finance and accounting functions more efficient, as well as generate cost savings, we outsource certain finance and accounting functions. A failure of our service providers to perform services in a satisfactory manner may have a significant adverse effect on our business. We may outsource other back-office functions in the future, which would increase our reliance on third parties.

Additionally, we are currently in the process of implementing substantial changes to our IT systems. We may not be able to successfully implement these systems in an effective manner. In addition, we may incur significant increases in costs and encounter extensive delays in the implementation and rollout of our new IT systems. If there are technological impediments, unforeseen complications, errors or breakdowns in implementing this new core operating system or if this new core operating system does not meet the requirements of our customers, our business, financial condition, results of operations or customer perceptions may be adversely affected.

We have engaged in substantial restructuring activities in the past, and may need to implement further restructurings in the future and our restructuring efforts may not be successful or generate expected cost savings.

The recorded music industry continues to undergo substantial change. These changes continue to have a substantial impact on our business. See “—The recorded music industry has been declining and may continue to decline, which may adversely affect our

23


 

prospects and our results of operations.” Following the 2004 acquisition of substantially all of the interests of the recorded music and music publishing business of Time Warner, we implemented a broad restructuring plan in order to adapt our cost structure to the changing economics of the music industry. Since then, we have continued to shift resources from our physical sales channels to efforts focused on digital distribution, emerging technologies and other new revenue streams. In addition, in order to help mitigate the effects of the recorded music transition, we continue our efforts to reduce overhead and manage our variable and fixed-cost structure to minimize any impact. In addition, as PLG had meaningful operational overlap with our existing business we implemented a restructuring and integration plan and achieved cost savings in conjunction with the PLG Acquisition.

We cannot be certain that we will not be required to implement further restructuring activities, make additions or other changes to our management or workforce based on other cost reduction measures or changes in the markets and industry in which we compete. Our inability to structure our operations based on evolving market conditions could impact our business. Restructuring activities can create unanticipated consequences and negative impacts on the business, and we cannot be sure that any future restructuring efforts will be successful or generate expected cost savings.

Access, which indirectly owns all of our outstanding capital stock, controls our company and may have conflicts of interest with the holders of our debt or us in the future. Access may also enter into, or cause us to enter into, strategic transactions that could change the nature or structure of our business, capital structure or credit profile.

As a result of the Merger, affiliates of Access indirectly own all of our common stock, and the actions that Access undertakes as our sole ultimate shareholder may differ from or adversely affect the interests of debt holders. Because Access ultimately controls our voting shares and those of all of our subsidiaries, it has the power, among other things, to affect our legal and capital structure and our day-to-day operations, as well as to elect our directors and those of our subsidiaries, to change our management and to approve any other changes to our operations. In addition, Access sets the compensation for Stephen Cooper, our CEO, pursuant to an arrangement between Mr. Cooper and Access, and we reimburse Access for any compensation paid to Mr. Cooper pursuant to the Management Agreement. Access also provides us with financial, investment banking, management, advisory and other services pursuant to the Management Agreement, for which we pay Access a specified annual fee, plus expenses, and a specified transaction fee for certain types of transactions completed by Holdings or one or more of its subsidiaries, plus expenses. Access also has the power to direct us to engage in strategic transactions, with or involving other companies in our industry, including acquisitions, combinations or dispositions, and the acquisition of certain assets that may become available for purchase, and any such transaction could be material. Any such transaction would carry the risks set forth above under “—If we acquire, combine with or invest in other businesses, we will face certain risks inherent in such transactions.”

Additionally, Access is in the business of making investments in companies and is actively seeking to acquire interests in businesses that operate in our industry and may compete, directly or indirectly, with us. Access may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, which could have the effect of making such acquisition opportunities unavailable to us. Access could elect to cause us to enter into business combinations or other transactions with any business or businesses in our industry that Access may acquire or control, or we could become part of a group of companies organized under the ultimate common control of Access that may be operated in a manner different from the manner in which we have historically operated. Any such business combination transaction could require that we or such group of companies incur additional indebtedness, and could also require us or any acquired business to make divestitures of assets necessary or desirable to obtain regulatory approval for such transaction. The amounts of such additional indebtedness, and the size of any such divestitures, could be material. Access may also from time to time purchase outstanding debt securities that we issued, and could also subsequently sell any such debt securities. Any such purchase or sale may affect the value of, trading price or liquidity of our debt securities.

Finally, because neither we nor our parent company have any securities listed on a securities exchange, we are not subject to certain of the corporate governance requirements of any securities exchange, including any requirement to have any independent directors.

Evolving regulations concerning data privacy may result in increased regulation and different industry standards, which could increase the costs of operations or limit our activities.

We engage in a wide array of online activities and are thus subject to a broad range of related laws and regulations including, for example, those relating to privacy, consumer protection, data retention and data protection, online behavioral advertising, geo-location tracking, text messaging, e-mail advertising, mobile advertising, content regulation, defamation, age verification, the protection of children online, social media and other Internet, mobile and online-related prohibitions and restrictions. The regulatory framework for privacy and data security issues worldwide has become increasingly burdensome and complex, and is likely to continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Practices regarding the collection, use, storage, transmission, security and disclosure of personal information by companies operating over the Internet and mobile platforms are receiving ever-increasing public scrutiny. The U.S. government, including Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, has announced that it is reviewing the need for

24


 

even greater regulation for the collection of information concerning consumer behavior on the Internet and mobile platforms, including regulation aimed at restricting certain targeted advertising practices, the use of location data and disclosures of privacy practices in the online and mobile environments, including with respect to online and mobile applications. State governments are engaged in similar legislative and regulatory activities. In addition, privacy and data security laws and regulations around the world are being implemented rapidly and evolving. These new and evolving laws are likely to result in greater compliance burdens for companies with global operations. Globally, many government and consumer agencies have also called for new regulation and changes in industry practices with respect to information collected from consumers.

In October 2012, one of our subsidiaries entered into a consent agreement to settle certain Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by improperly collecting personal information from children under 13 without their parents’ verifiable consent. While our subsidiary neither admitted nor denied the agency’s allegations, the settlement imposed a $1 million civil penalty, barred future violations of COPPA, and required that our subsidiary delete information allegedly collected in violation of COPPA, among other requirements.

The Federal Trade Commission adopted certain revisions to its rule promulgated pursuant to COPPA, effective as of July 1, 2013, that may impose greater compliance burdens on us. COPPA imposes a number of obligations, such as obtaining verifiable parental permission, on operators of websites, apps and other online services to the extent they collect certain information from children who are under 13 years of age. The changes broaden the applicability of COPPA, including by expanding the definition of “personal information” subject to the rule’s parental consent and other obligations.

In addition, our business, including our ability to operate and expand internationally, could be adversely affected if laws or regulations are adopted, interpreted, or implemented in a manner that is inconsistent with our current business practices and that require changes to these practices. Therefore, our business could be harmed by any significant change to applicable laws, regulations or industry practices regarding the collection, use or disclosure of customer data, or regarding the manner in which the express or implied consent of consumers for such collection, use and disclosure is obtained. Such changes may require us to modify our operations, possibly in a material manner, and may limit our ability to develop new products, services, mechanisms, platforms and features that make use of data regarding our customers and potential customers.

If we or our service providers do not maintain the security of information relating to our customers, employees and vendors and our music-based content, security information breaches through cyber security attacks or otherwise could damage our reputation with customers, employees, vendors and artists, and we could incur substantial additional costs, become subject to litigation and our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected. Moreover, even if we or our service providers maintain such security, such breaches remain a possibility due to the fact that no data security system is immune from attacks or other incidents.

We receive certain personal information about our customers and potential customers, and we also receive personal information concerning our employees, artists and vendors. In addition, our online operations depend upon the secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. We maintain security measures with respect to such information, but despite these measures, we may be vulnerable to security breaches by computer hackers and others that attempt to penetrate the security measures that we have in place. A compromise of our security systems (through cyber-attacks or otherwise which are rapidly evolving and sophisticated) that results in personal information being obtained by unauthorized persons could adversely affect our reputation with our customers, potential customers, employees, artists and vendors, as well as our operations, results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, and could result in litigation against us or the imposition of governmental penalties. We may also be subject to cyber-attacks that target our music-based content, including not-yet-released songs or albums.  The theft and premature release of this music-based content may adversely affect our reputation with current and potential artists and adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, a security breach could require that we expend significant additional resources related to our information security systems and could result in a disruption of our operations.

We increasingly rely on third-party data storage providers, including cloud storage solution providers, resulting in less direct control over our data. Such third parties may also be vulnerable to security breaches and compromised security systems, which could adversely affect our reputation.

25


 

Risks Related to our Leverage

Our substantial leverage on a consolidated basis could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry and prevent us from meeting our obligations under our indebtedness.

We are highly leveraged. As of September 30, 2015, our total consolidated indebtedness, including the current portion, was $2.994 billion. In addition, we would have been able to borrow up to $150 million under our Revolving Credit Facility (not giving effect to letters of credit outstanding of approximately $5 million as of September 30, 2015).

Our high degree of leverage could have important consequences for our investors. For example, it may:

 

make it more difficult for us to make payments on our indebtedness;

 

increase our vulnerability to general economic and industry conditions, including recessions and periods of significant inflation and financial market volatility;

 

expose us to the risk of increased interest rates because any borrowings we make under the New Senior Credit Facilities will bear interest at variable rates;

 

require us to use a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to service our indebtedness, thereby reducing our ability to fund working capital, capital expenditures and other investments and expenses;

 

limit our ability to refinance existing indebtedness on favorable terms or at all or borrow additional funds in the future for, among other things, working capital, acquisitions or debt service requirements;

 

limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industries in which we operate;

 

place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to competitors that have less indebtedness; and

 

limit our ability to borrow additional funds that may be needed to operate and expand our business.

We and our subsidiaries may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in the future, subject to the restrictions contained in the indentures governing our outstanding notes as well as under the Senior Credit Facilities. If new indebtedness is added to our current debt levels, the related risks that we and our subsidiaries now face could intensify.

The indentures that govern our outstanding notes and the Senior Credit Facilities contain restrictive covenants that limit our ability to engage in activities that may be in our long-term best interests. Those covenants include restrictions on our ability to, among other things, incur more indebtedness, pay dividends, redeem stock or make other distributions, make investments, create liens, transfer or sell assets, merge or consolidate and enter into certain transactions with our affiliates. Our failure to comply with those covenants could result in an event of default, which, if not cured or waived, could result in the acceleration of all of our indebtedness. See also “—Our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business.”

We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness, and may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful.

Our ability to make scheduled payments on or to refinance our debt obligations depends on our financial condition and operating performance, which is subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control. We may not maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness.

Acquisition Corp. will rely on its subsidiaries to make payments on its borrowings. If these subsidiaries do not dividend funds to Acquisition Corp. in an amount sufficient to make such payments, if necessary in the future, Acquisition Corp. may default under the indentures or credit facilities governing its borrowings, which would result in all such borrowings becoming due and payable. In addition, Holdings, our immediate subsidiary, will rely on our indirect subsidiary Acquisition Corp. and its subsidiaries to make payments on its borrowings. If Acquisition Corp. does not dividend funds to Holdings in an amount sufficient to make such payments, if necessary in the future, Holdings may default under the indenture governing its borrowings, which would result in all such notes becoming due and payable.

26


 

Our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business.

The indentures governing our outstanding notes contain various covenants that limit our ability to engage in specified types of transactions. These covenants limit our ability, Holdings’ ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to, among other things:

 

incur additional debt or issue certain preferred shares;

 

create liens on certain debt;

 

pay dividends on or make distributions in respect of our capital stock or make investments or other restricted payments;

 

sell certain assets;

 

create restrictions on the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to pay dividends to us or make certain other intercompany transfers;

 

enter into certain transactions with our affiliates; and

 

consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of our assets.

In addition, the credit agreements governing the Senior Term Loan Facility and Revolving Credit Facility contain a number of covenants that limit our ability, Holdings’ ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to:

 

pay dividends on, and redeem and purchase, equity interests;

 

make other restricted payments;

 

make prepayments on, redeem or repurchase certain debt;

 

incur certain liens;

 

make certain loans and investments;

 

incur certain additional debt;

 

enter into guarantees and hedging arrangements;

 

enter into mergers, acquisitions and asset sales;

 

enter into transactions with affiliates;

 

change the business we and our subsidiaries conduct;

 

restrict the ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make distributions;

 

amend the terms of subordinated debt and unsecured bonds; and

 

make certain capital expenditures.

Our ability to borrow additional amounts under the Senior Credit Facilities will depend upon satisfaction of these covenants. Events beyond our control can affect our ability to meet these covenants.

Our failure to comply with obligations under the instruments governing our indebtedness may result in an event of default under such instruments. We cannot be certain that we will have funds available to remedy these defaults. A default, if not cured or waived, may permit acceleration of our indebtedness. If our indebtedness is accelerated, we cannot be certain that we will have sufficient funds available to pay the accelerated indebtedness or will have the ability to refinance the accelerated indebtedness on terms favorable to us or at all.

All of these restrictions could affect our ability to operate our business or may limit our ability to take advantage of potential business opportunities as they arise.

If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay investments in recording artists and songwriters, capital expenditures or dividends, or to sell assets, seek additional capital or restructure or refinance our indebtedness. These alternative measures may not be successful and may not permit us to meet our scheduled debt service obligations. In the absence of such operating results and resources, we could face substantial liquidity problems and might be required to dispose of material assets or operations to meet our debt service and other obligations. The indentures governing our outstanding notes restrict our ability to dispose of assets and use the proceeds from dispositions. We may not be able to consummate those dispositions or to obtain the proceeds which we could realize from them and these proceeds may not be adequate to meet any debt service obligations then due.

27


 

Despite our indebtedness levels, we may be able to incur substantially more indebtedness, which may increase the risks created by our substantial indebtedness.

We may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness, including additional secured indebtedness, in the future. The indentures governing our outstanding notes and the credit agreements governing the Senior Term Loan Facility and Revolving Credit Facility will not fully prohibit us, Holdings or our subsidiaries from incurring additional indebtedness under certain circumstances. If we, Holdings or our subsidiaries are in compliance with certain incurrence ratios set forth in such indentures, we, Holdings or our subsidiaries may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness, which may increase the risks created by our current substantial indebtedness.

Our ability to incur secured indebtedness is subject to compliance with certain secured leverage ratios that are calculated as of the date of incurrence. The amount of secured indebtedness that we are able to incur and the timing of any such incurrence under these ratios vary from time to time and are a function of several variables, including our outstanding indebtedness and our results of operations calculated as of specified dates or for certain periods.

A downgrade, suspension or withdrawal of the rating assigned by a rating agency to us could impact our cost of capital.

Any future lowering of our ratings may make it more difficult or more expensive for us to obtain additional debt financing. Therefore, although reductions in our debt ratings may not have an immediate impact on the cost of debt or our liquidity, they may impact the cost of debt and liquidity over the medium term and future access at a reasonable rate to the debt markets may be adversely impacted.

 

ITEM  1B.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

 

 

ITEM 2.

PROPERTIES

We own studio and office facilities and also lease certain facilities in the ordinary course of business. Our worldwide headquarters are currently located at 1633 Broadway, New York, New York 10019, under a long-term lease ending July 31, 2029. The lease also includes a single option for us to extend the term for either five years or ten years. In addition, under certain conditions, we have the ability to lease additional space in the building and have a right of first refusal with regard to certain additional space. We consolidated employees formerly located at 75 Rockefeller Center, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and other smaller locations in New York City into our headquarters at 1633 Broadway. We also have a long-term lease ending on December 31, 2019, for office space in a building located at 3400 West Olive Avenue, Burbank, California 91505, used primarily by our Recorded Music business. We also have a five-year lease ending on September 30, 2017 for office space at 10585 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90025, used primarily by our Music Publishing business. We also own other property and lease facilities elsewhere throughout the world as necessary to operate our businesses. We consider our properties adequate for our current needs.

 

ITEM  3.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

Pricing of Digital Music Downloads

On December 20, 2005 and February 3, 2006, the Attorney General of the State of New York served the Company with requests for information in connection with an industry-wide investigation as to the pricing of digital music downloads. On February 28, 2006, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice served us with a Civil Investigative Demand, also seeking information relating to the pricing of digitally downloaded music. Both investigations were ultimately closed, but subsequent to the announcements of the investigations, more than thirty putative class action lawsuits were filed concerning the pricing of digital music downloads. The lawsuits were consolidated in the Southern District of New York. The consolidated amended complaint, filed on April 13, 2007, alleges conspiracy among record companies to delay the release of their content for digital distribution, inflate their pricing of CDs and fix prices for digital downloads. The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory, statutory and treble damages. On October 9, 2008, the District Court issued an order dismissing the case as to all defendants, including us. However, on January 12, 2010, the Second Circuit vacated the judgment of the District Court and remanded the case for further proceedings and on January 10, 2011, the Supreme Court denied the defendants’ petition for Certiorari.

Upon remand to the District Court, all defendants, including the Company, filed a renewed motion to dismiss challenging, among other things, plaintiffs’ state law claims and standing to bring certain claims. The renewed motion was based mainly on arguments made in defendants’ original motion to dismiss, but not addressed by the District Court. On July 18, 2011, the District Court granted defendants’ motion in part, and denied it in part. Notably, all claims on behalf of the CD-purchaser class were dismissed with prejudice. However, a wide variety of state and federal claims remain for the class of Internet download purchasers. Plaintiffs filed an operative consolidated amended complaint on August 31, 2011. Pursuant to the terms of an August 15, 2011 stipulation and

28


 

order, the case is currently in discovery. Disputes regarding the scope of discovery are ongoing. Plaintiffs filed a Class Certification brief on March 14, 2014 and an amended Class Certification brief on October 12, 2015. The Company’s opposition to the amended brief is due February 9, 2016 and the plaintiffs’ reply in support of the brief is due June 8, 2016. The Company filed its answer to the fourth amended complaint on October 9, 2015. The Company intends to defend against these lawsuits vigorously, but is unable to predict the outcome of these suits. Regardless of the merits of the claims, this and any related litigation could continue to be costly, and divert the time and resources of management. The potential outcomes of these claims that are reasonably possible cannot be determined at this time and an estimate of the reasonably possible loss or range of loss cannot presently be made.

Other Matters

In addition to the matters discussed above, the Company is involved in various litigation and regulatory proceedings arising in the normal course of business. Where it is determined, in consultation with counsel based on litigation and settlement risks, that a loss is probable and estimable in a given matter, the Company establishes an accrual. In none of the currently pending proceedings is the amount of accrual material. An estimate of the reasonably possible loss or range of loss in excess of the amounts already accrued cannot be made at this time due to various factors typical in contested proceedings, including (1) the results of ongoing discovery; (2) uncertain damage theories and demands; (3) a less than complete factual record; (4) uncertainty concerning legal theories and their resolution by courts or regulators; and (5) the unpredictable nature of the opposing party and its demands. However, the Company cannot predict with certainty the outcome of any litigation or the potential for future litigation. As such, the Company continuously monitors these proceedings as they develop and adjusts any accrual or disclosure as needed. Regardless of the outcome, litigation could have an adverse impact on the Company, including the Company’s brand value, because of defense costs, diversion of management resources and other factors and it could have a material effect on the Company’s results of operations for a given reporting period.

 

ITEM  4.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not Applicable.

 

 

 

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PART II

 

ITEM  5.

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

There is no established public trading market for any class of our common equity. As of December 10, 2015, there were 1,055 shares of our common stock outstanding. Affiliates of Access Industries, Inc. currently own 100% of our common stock.

Dividend Policy

We did not pay any cash dividends to our stockholders in the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, 2014 or 2013. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on, among other things, our results of operations, cash requirements, financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors our Board of Directors may deem relevant.

Our ability to pay dividends is restricted by covenants in the indentures governing our notes and in the credit agreements for our Term Loan Facility and the Revolving Credit Facility.


30


 

ITEM 6.

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA  

Our summary balance sheet data as of September 30, 2015 and 2014, and the statement of operations and other data for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, 2014 and 2013 have been derived from our audited financial statements included in this annual report on Form 10-K and should be read in conjunction with the audited financial statements and other financial information presented elsewhere herein. The selected financial information set forth below for all other periods has been derived from our audited financial statements that are not included in this annual report on Form 10-K. In addition, in accordance with United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“U.S. GAAP”), we have separated our historical financial results for the period from July 20, 2011 to September 30, 2011 (“Successor”) and for the period from October 1, 2010 to July 19, 2011 (“Predecessor”). Successor and Predecessor periods are presented on different bases and are, therefore, not comparable.

The following table sets forth our selected historical financial and other data as of the dates and for the periods ended:

 

 

 

Successor

 

 

Predecessor

 

 

 

Fiscal Year

 

 

Fiscal Year

 

 

Fiscal Year

 

 

Fiscal Year

 

 

From July 20, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ended

 

 

Ended

 

 

Ended

 

 

Ended

 

 

through

 

 

From October 1,

 

 

 

September 30,

 

 

September 30,

 

 

September 30,

 

 

September 30,

 

 

September 30,

 

 

2010  through

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

2011

 

 

July 19, 2011

 

 

 

(in millions)

 

Statement of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues

 

$

2,966

 

 

$

3,027

 

 

$

2,871

 

 

$

2,780

 

 

$

556

 

 

$

2,311

 

Net loss attributable to

   Warner Music Group Corp. (1) (2)

 

 

(91

)

 

 

(308

)

 

 

(198

)

 

 

(112

)

 

 

(31

)

 

 

(174

)

Diluted loss per common

   share (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1.15

)

Dividends per common share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance Sheet Data (at period

   end):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and equivalents

 

$

246

 

 

$

157

 

 

$

155

 

 

$

302

 

 

$

154

 

 

 

 

 

Total assets

 

 

5,671

 

 

 

5,954

 

 

 

6,252

 

 

 

5,278

 

 

 

5,380

 

 

 

 

 

Total debt (including current

   portion of long-term debt)

 

 

2,994

 

 

 

3,030

 

 

 

2,867

 

 

 

2,206

 

 

 

2,217

 

 

 

 

 

Warner Music Group Corp.

   equity (deficit)

 

 

221

 

 

 

371

 

 

 

726

 

 

 

927

 

 

 

1,065

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash Flow Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows provided by (used in):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating activities

 

$

222

 

 

$

130

 

 

$

159

 

 

$

209

 

 

$

(64

)

 

$

12

 

Investing activities

 

 

(95

)

 

 

(155

)

 

 

(808

)

 

 

(58

)

 

 

(1,292

)

 

 

(155

)

Financing activities

 

 

(19

)

 

 

37

 

 

 

511

 

 

 

(3

)

 

 

1,199

 

 

 

5

 

Capital expenditures

 

 

(63

)

 

 

(76

)

 

 

(34

)

 

 

(32

)

 

 

(11

)

 

 

(37

)

 

 

 

(1)

Net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015 includes $2 million of PLG restructuring charges and $5 million of PLG-related professional fees and integration costs. Net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2014 includes $50 million of PLG restructuring charges, $59 million of PLG-related professional fees and integration costs and loss on extinguishment of debt of $141 million. Net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013 includes a transaction fee under the Management Agreement of $11 million related to the PLG Acquisition, $22 million of PLG restructuring charges, and $43 million of PLG-related professional fees and integration costs. Net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. for the period from July 20, 2011 through September 30, 2011 and for the period from October 1, 2010 through July 19, 2011 include $10 million and $43 million of transaction costs, respectively, in connection with the Merger.

(2)

Net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. includes severance charges unrelated to the PLG Acquisition of $6 million, $7 million, $11 million, $42 million, $9 million and $29 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015, the fiscal year ended September 30, 2014, the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013, the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012, the period from July 20, 2011 through September 30, 2011, and the period from October 1, 2010 through July 19, 2011, respectively.

(3)

Net loss per share for our Predecessor results were calculated by dividing net loss attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. by the weighted average common shares outstanding.

 

31


 

ITEM 7.

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS  

You should read the following discussion of our results of operations and financial condition with the audited financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015 (the “Annual Report”).

“SAFE HARBOR” STATEMENT UNDER PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995

This Annual Report includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this Annual Report, including, without limitation, statements regarding our future financial position, business strategy, budgets, projected costs, cost savings, industry trends and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In addition, forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe” or “continue” or the negative thereof or variations thereon or similar terminology. Such statements include, among others, statements regarding our ability to develop talent and attract future talent, our ability to reduce future capital expenditures, our ability to monetize our music-based content, including through new distribution channels and formats to capitalize on the growth areas of the music industry, our ability to effectively deploy our capital, the development of digital music and the effect of digital distribution channels on our business, including whether we will be able to achieve higher margins from digital sales, the success of strategic actions (including the acquisition of Parlophone Label Group) we are taking to accelerate our transformation as we redefine our role in the music industry, the effectiveness of our ongoing efforts to reduce overhead expenditures and manage our variable and fixed cost structure and our ability to generate expected cost savings from such efforts, including expected cost savings and other synergies and benefits from our acquisition of Parlophone Label Group, our success in limiting piracy, our ability to compete in the highly competitive markets in which we operate, the growth of the music industry and the effect of our and the music industry’s efforts to combat piracy on the industry, our intention to pay dividends or repurchase our outstanding debt or notes in open market purchases, privately or otherwise, the impact on us of potential strategic transactions, our ability to fund our future capital needs and the effect of litigation on us. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to have been correct.

There are a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report. Additionally, important factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements we make in this Annual Report. As stated elsewhere in this Annual Report, such risks, uncertainties and other important factors include, among others:

 

the continued decline in the global recorded music industry and the rate of overall decline in the music industry;

 

downward pressure on our pricing and our profit margins and reductions in shelf space;

 

our ability to identify, sign and retain artists and songwriters and the existence or absence of superstar releases;

 

threats to our business associated with digital piracy;

 

the significant threat posed to our business and the music industry by organized industrial piracy;

 

the popular demand for particular recording artists and/or songwriters and albums and the timely completion of albums by major recording artists and/or songwriters;

 

the diversity and quality of our portfolio of songwriters;

 

the diversity and quality of our album releases;

 

the impact of legitimate channels for digital distribution of our creative content;

 

our dependence on a limited number of digital music services, in particular Apple’s iTunes Music Store, for the online sale of our music recordings and their ability to significantly influence the pricing structure for online music stores;

 

our involvement in intellectual property litigation;

 

our ability to continue to enforce our intellectual property rights in digital environments;

 

the ability to develop a successful business model applicable to a digital environment and to enter into artist services and expanded-rights deals with recording artists in order to broaden our revenue streams in growing segments of the music business;

32


 

 

the impact of heightened and intensive competition in the recorded music and music publishing businesses and our inability to execute our business strategy;  

 

risks associated with our non-U.S. operations, including limited legal protections of our intellectual property rights and restrictions on the repatriation of capital;

 

significant fluctuations in our operations and cash flows from period to period;

 

our inability to compete successfully in the highly competitive markets in which we operate;

 

trends, developments or other events in some foreign countries in which we operate;

 

local economic conditions in the countries in which we operate;

 

our failure to attract and retain our executive officers and other key personnel;

 

the impact of rate regulations on our Recorded Music and Music Publishing businesses;

 

the impact of rates on other income streams that may be set by arbitration proceedings on our business;

 

an impairment in the carrying value of goodwill or other intangible and long-lived assets;

 

unfavorable currency exchange rate fluctuations;

 

our failure to have full control and ability to direct the operations we conduct through joint ventures;

 

legislation limiting the terms by which an individual can be bound under a “personal services” contract;

 

a potential loss of catalog if it is determined that recording artists have a right to recapture rights in their recordings under the U.S. Copyright Act;

 

trends that affect the end uses of our musical compositions (which include uses in broadcast radio and television, film and advertising businesses);

 

the growth of other products that compete for the disposable income of consumers;

 

the impact of, and risks inherent in, acquisitions or business combinations;

 

risks inherent to our outsourcing of IT infrastructure and certain finance and accounting functions;

 

our ability to maintain the security of information relating to our customers, employees and vendors and our music-based content;

 

the fact that we have engaged in substantial restructuring activities in the past, and may need to implement further restructurings in the future and our restructuring efforts may not be successful or generate expected cost-savings;

 

the impact of our substantial leverage on our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, on our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry and on our ability to meet our obligations under our indebtedness;

 

the ability to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness, and the risk that we may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful;

 

the fact that our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business;

 

our indebtedness levels, and the fact that we may be able to incur substantially more indebtedness which may increase the risks created by our substantial indebtedness;

 

the significant amount of cash required to service our indebtedness and the ability to generate cash or refinance indebtedness as it becomes due depends on many factors, some of which are beyond our control;

 

risks of downgrade, suspension or withdrawal of the rating assigned by a rating agency to us could impact our cost of capital;

 

risks relating to Access, which indirectly owns all of our outstanding capital stock, and controls our company and may have conflicts of interest with the holders of our debt or us in the future. Access may also enter into, or cause us to enter into, strategic transactions that could change the nature or structure of our business, capital structure or credit profile;

 

risks related to evolving regulations concerning data privacy which might result in increased regulation and different industry standards;

 

changes in law and government regulations; and

 

risks related to other factors discussed under “Risk Factors” of this Annual Report.

33


 

There may be other factors not presently known to us or which we currently consider to be immaterial that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements we make. You should read carefully the factors described in the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report to better understand the risks and uncertainties inherent in our business and underlying any forward-looking statements.

All forward-looking statements attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf apply only as of the date of this Annual Report and are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements included in this Annual Report. We disclaim any duty to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

INTRODUCTION

Warner Music Group Corp. (the “Company”) was formed on November 21, 2003. The Company is the direct parent of WMG Holdings Corp. (“Holdings”), which is the direct parent of WMG Acquisition Corp. (“Acquisition Corp.”). Acquisition Corp. is one of the world’s major music-based content companies.

The Company and Holdings are holding companies that conduct substantially all of their business operations through their subsidiaries. The terms “we,” “us,” “our,” “ours,” and the “Company” refer collectively to Warner Music Group Corp. and its consolidated subsidiaries, except where otherwise indicated.

Management’s discussion and analysis of results of operations and financial condition (“MD&A”) is provided as a supplement to the audited financial statements and footnotes included elsewhere herein to help provide an understanding of our financial condition, changes in financial condition and results of our operations. MD&A is organized as follows:

 

Overview. This section provides a general description of our business, as well as a discussion of factors that we believe are important in understanding our results of operations and financial condition and in anticipating future trends.

 

Results of operations. This section provides an analysis of our results of operations for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, September 30, 2014 and September 30, 2013. This analysis is presented on both a consolidated and segment basis.

 

Financial condition and liquidity. This section provides an analysis of our cash flows for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, September 30, 2014 and September 30, 2013, as well as a discussion of our financial condition and liquidity as of September 30, 2015. The discussion of our financial condition and liquidity includes a summary of the key debt compliance measures under our debt agreements.

 

Critical Accounting Policies. This section identifies those accounting policies that are considered important to the Company’s results of operations and financial condition, require significant judgment and involve significant management estimates. The Company’s significant accounting policies, including those considered to be critical accounting policies, are summarized in Note 2 to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements.

Use of OIBDA

We evaluate our operating performance based on several factors, including our primary financial measure of operating income (loss) before non-cash depreciation of tangible assets and non-cash amortization of intangible assets (which we refer to as “OIBDA”). We consider OIBDA to be an important indicator of the operational strengths and performance of our businesses. However, a limitation of the use of OIBDA as a performance measure is that it does not reflect the periodic costs of certain capitalized tangible and intangible assets used in generating revenues in our businesses. Accordingly, OIBDA should be considered in addition to, not as a substitute for, operating income, net income (loss) attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. and other measures of financial performance reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP. In addition, our definition of OIBDA may differ from similarly titled measures used by other companies. A reconciliation of consolidated OIBDA to operating income and net income (loss) attributable to Warner Music Group Corp. is provided in our “Results of Operations.”

Use of Constant Currency

As exchange rates are an important factor in understanding period to period comparisons, we believe the presentation of revenue on a constant-currency basis in addition to reported revenue helps improve the ability to understand our operating results and evaluate our performance in comparison to prior periods. Constant-currency information compares revenue between periods as if exchange rates had remained constant period over period. We use revenue on a constant-currency basis as one measure to evaluate our performance. We calculate constant currency by calculating prior-year results using current-year foreign currency exchange rates. We generally refer to such amounts calculated on a constant-currency basis as “excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange

34


 

rates.” These results should be considered in addition to, not as a substitute for, revenue reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Revenue on a constant-currency basis, as we present them, may not be comparable to similarly titled measures used by other companies and are not a measure of performance presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

OVERVIEW

We are one of the world’s major music-based content companies. We classify our business interests into two fundamental operations: Recorded Music and Music Publishing. A brief description of each of those operations is presented below.

Recorded Music Operations

Our Recorded Music business primarily consists of the discovery and development of artists and the related marketing, distribution and licensing of recorded music produced by such artists. We play an integral role in virtually all aspects of the recorded music value chain from discovering and developing talent to producing albums and promoting artists and their products.

In the United States, our Recorded Music operations are conducted principally through our major record labels—Warner Bros. Records and Atlantic Records. Our Recorded Music operations also include Rhino, a division that specializes in marketing our music catalog through compilations and reissuances of previously released music and video titles. We also conduct our Recorded Music operations through a collection of additional record labels, including, Asylum, Big Beat, Canvasback, Eastwest, Elektra, Erato, FFRR, Fueled by Ramen, Nonesuch, Parlophone, Reprise, Roadrunner, Sire, Warner Classics, Warner Music Nashville and Word.

Outside the United States, our Recorded Music activities are conducted in more than 50 countries through various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. Internationally, we engage in the same activities as in the United States: discovering and signing artists and distributing, marketing and selling their recorded music. In most cases, we also market and distribute the records of those artists for whom our domestic record labels have international rights. In certain smaller markets, we license the right to distribute our records to non-affiliated third-party record labels. Our international artist services operations include a network of concert promoters through which we provide resources to coordinate tours for our artists and other artists as well as management companies that guide artists with respect to their careers.

Our Recorded Music distribution operations include Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corporation (“WEA Corp.”), which markets and sells music and video products to retailers and wholesale distributors; Alternative Distribution Alliance (“ADA”), which distributes the products of independent labels to retail and wholesale distributors; various distribution centers and ventures operated internationally; and an 80% interest in Word, which specializes in the distribution of music products in the Christian retail marketplace.

In addition to our Recorded Music products being sold in physical retail outlets, our Recorded Music products are also sold in physical form to online physical retailers such as Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and bestbuy.com and in digital form to digital download services such as Apple’s iTunes and Google Play, and are offered by digital streaming services such as Apple Music, Deezer, Rhapsody, Spotify and YouTube, including digital radio services such as iTunes Radio, iHeart Radio, Pandora and Sirius XM.

We have integrated the exploitation of digital content into all aspects of our business, including artist and repertoire (“A&R”), marketing, promotion and distribution. Our business development executives work closely with A&R departments to ensure that while a record is being produced, digital assets are also created with all distribution channels in mind, including streaming services, social networking sites, online portals and music-centered destinations. We also work side-by-side with our online and mobile partners to test new concepts. We believe existing and new digital businesses will be a significant source of growth and will provide new opportunities to successfully monetize our assets and create new revenue streams. The proportion of digital revenues attributed to each distribution channel varies by region and proportions may change as the roll out of new technologies continues. As an owner of music content, we believe we are well positioned to take advantage of growth in digital distribution and emerging technologies to maximize the value of our assets.

We have diversified our revenues beyond our traditional businesses by entering into expanded-rights deals with recording artists in order to partner with artists in other aspects of their careers. Under these agreements, we provide services to and participate in artists’ activities outside the traditional recorded music business such as touring, merchandising and sponsorships. We have built artist services capabilities and platforms for exploiting this broader set of music-related rights and participating more widely in the monetization of the artist brands we help create.

35


 

We believe that entering into expanded-rights deals and enhancing our artist services capabilities in areas such as concert promotion and management has permited us to diversify revenue streams and capitalize on other revenue opportunities. This provides for improved long-term relationships with artists and allows us to more effectively connect artists and fans.

Recorded Music revenues are derived from four main sources:

 

Physical: the rightsholder receives revenues with respect to sales of physical products such as CDs, vinyl and DVDs;

 

Digital: the rightsholder receives revenues with respect to digital download services, streaming services and other online and mobile digital music services;

 

Artist services and expanded-rights: the rightsholder receives revenues with respect to artist services businesses and our participation in expanded-rights associated with our artists, including sponsorship, fan clubs, artist websites, merchandising, touring, concert promotion, ticketing and artist and brand management; and

 

Licensing: the rightsholder receives royalties or fees for the right to use sound recordings in combination with visual images such as in films or television programs, television commercials and videogames; the rightsholder also receives royalties if sound recordings are performed publicly through broadcast of music on television, radio and cable, and in public spaces such as shops, workplaces, restaurants, bars and clubs.

The principal costs associated with our Recorded Music operations are as follows:

 

Artist and repertoire costs—the costs associated with (i) paying royalties to artists, producers, songwriters, other copyright holders and trade unions; (ii) signing and developing artists; and (iii) creating master recordings in the studio;

 

Product costs—the costs to manufacture, package and distribute products to wholesale and retail distribution outlets, the royalty costs associated with distributing products of independent labels to wholesale and retail distribution outlets, as well as the costs related to our artist services business;

 

Selling and marketing expenses—the costs associated with the promotion and marketing of artists and recorded music products, including costs to produce music videos for promotional purposes and artist tour support; and

 

General and administrative expenses—the costs associated with general overhead and other administrative expenses.

Music Publishing Operations

While recorded music is focused on exploiting a particular recording of a composition, music publishing is an intellectual property business focused on the exploitation of the composition itself. In return for promoting, placing, marketing and administering the creative output of a songwriter, or engaging in those activities for other rightsholders, our Music Publishing business garners a share of the revenues generated from use of the composition.

Our Music Publishing operations are conducted principally through Warner/Chappell, our global music publishing company headquartered in Los Angeles with operations in over 50 countries through various subsidiaries, affiliates and non-affiliated licensees. We own or control rights to more than one million musical compositions, including numerous pop hits, American standards, folk songs and motion picture and theatrical compositions. Assembled over decades, our award-winning catalog includes over 65,000 songwriters and composers and a diverse range of genres including pop, rock, jazz, classical, country, R&B, hip-hop, rap, reggae, Latin, folk, blues, symphonic, soul, Broadway, techno, alternative, gospel and other Christian music. Warner/Chappell also administers the music and soundtracks of several third-party television and film producers and studios, including Lucasfilm, Ltd., Hallmark Entertainment and Disney Music Publishing. Through consistent and tactical talent investment, Warner/Chappell has developed a broad array of talent across all genres, resulting in Warner/Chappell being awarded ASCAP’s Top Publisher of the Year for Latin Music in 2015, to add to the successes of Top Publisher in each of Pop, Country and Urban categories in 2014. We have an extensive production music library collectively branded as Warner/Chappell Production Music.

Music Publishing revenues are derived from five main sources:

 

Performance: the rightsholder receives revenues if the composition is performed publicly through broadcast of music on television, radio and cable, live performance at a concert or other venue (e.g., arena concerts and nightclubs), and performance of music in staged theatrical productions;

 

Mechanical: the rightsholder receives revenues with respect to compositions embodied in recordings sold in any physical format or configuration such as CDs, vinyl and DVDs;

 

Digital: the rightsholder receives revenues with respect to compositions embodied in recordings sold in digital download services, streaming services, other online and mobile digital music services and digital performance;

36


 

 

Synchronization: the rightsholder receives revenues for the right to use the composition in combination with visual images such as in films or television programs, television commercials and videogames as well as from other uses such as in toys or novelty items and merchandise; and 

 

Other: the rightsholder receives revenues for use in printed sheet music and other uses.

The principal costs associated with our Music Publishing operations are as follows:

 

Artist and repertoire costs—the costs associated with (i) paying royalties to songwriters, co-publishers and other copyright holders in connection with income generated from the exploitation of their copyrighted works and (ii) signing and developing songwriters; and

 

General and administrative expenses—the costs associated with general overhead and other administrative expenses.

Acquisition of the Parlophone Label Group

On July 1, 2013, the Company completed the acquisition of Parlophone Label Group (“PLG”) from Universal Music for £487 million, subject to a closing working capital adjustment, in an all-cash transaction (the “PLG Acquisition”) pursuant to a Share Sale and Purchase Agreement (the “PLG Agreement”). The final working capital adjustment was received from Universal Music on November 21, 2014. The total working capital adjustment, including the previously disclosed preliminary adjustment of £13 million and the final adjustment, was £36 million, bringing the final purchase price, net of cash received of £31 million, to £492 million. See also “PLG Working Capital Adjustment” below. PLG included a broad range of some of the world’s best-known recordings and classic and contemporary artists spanning a wide array of musical genres. PLG was comprised of the historic Parlophone label and Chrysalis and Ensign labels in the U.K., as well as EMI Classics and Virgin Classics, and EMI’s recorded music operations in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. PLG’s artists include Air, Alain Souchon, Camille, Coldplay, Daft Punk, Danger Mouse, David Bowie, David Guetta, Deep Purple, Duran Duran, Eliza Doolittle, Gorillaz, Iron Maiden, Jean-Louis Aubert, Jethro Tull, Julien Clerc, Kylie Minogue, M. Pokora, Magic System, Pablo Alborán, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Roxette, Tina Turner and Tinie Tempah, as well as many developing and up-and-coming artists. PLG’s EMI Classics and Virgin Classics brand names were not included with the PLG Acquisition. These businesses have been rebranded, respectively, as Warner Classics and Erato.

Recent Developments

Pandora

On April 17, 2014, we joined with UMG Recordings, Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, Capitol Records, LLC and ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. in a lawsuit brought against Pandora Media Inc. in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, alleging copyright infringement for Pandora’s use of pre-1972 sound recordings. A settlement was reached on October 23, 2015 pursuant to which Pandora will pay the plaintiffs a total of $90 million and the plaintiffs dismissed their lawsuit with prejudice. Of the total $90 million, $60 million was paid upon settlement and the remaining amount will be paid in four equal installments of $7.5 million from January 1, 2016 through October 1, 2016. The settlement resolves all past claims as to Pandora’s use of pre-1972 recordings owned or controlled by the plaintiffs and enables Pandora, without any additional payment, to reproduce, perform and broadcast such recordings in the United States through December 31, 2016. The allocation of the settlement proceeds among the plaintiffs has not yet been determined.  We intend to share our allocation of the settlement proceeds with our artists on the same basis as statutory revenue from Pandora is shared, i.e., the artist share of our allocation will be paid to artists by SoundExchange. We will record the settlement in our financial statements once it is realized, which is expected to be at the time the allocation to the Company can be reasonably determined.

 

Sirius XM

On September 11, 2013, we joined with Capitol Records, LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, Inc. and ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. in a lawsuit brought in California Superior Court against Sirius XM Radio Inc., alleging copyright infringement for Sirius XM’s use of pre-1972 sound recordings under California law.  A nation-wide settlement was reached on June 17, 2015 pursuant to which Sirius XM paid the plaintiffs, in the aggregate, $210 million on July 29, 2015 and the plaintiffs dismissed their lawsuit with prejudice.  The settlement resolves all past claims as to Sirius XM’s use of pre-1972 recordings owned or controlled by the plaintiffs and enables Sirius XM, without any additional payment, to reproduce, perform and broadcast such recordings in the United States through December 31, 2017.  As part of the settlement, Sirius XM has the right, to be exercised before December 31, 2017, to enter into a license with each plaintiff to reproduce, perform and broadcast its pre-1972 recordings from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022.  The royalty rate for each such license will be determined by negotiation or, if the parties are unable to agree, binding arbitration on a willing buyer/willing seller standard.  The allocation of the settlement proceeds among the plaintiffs has

37


 

not yet been determined.  We intend to share our allocation of the settlement proceeds with our artists on the same basis as statutory revenue from Sirius XM is shared, i.e., the artist share of our allocation will be paid to artists by SoundExchange. We will record the settlement in our financial statements once it is realized, which is expected to be at the time the allocation to the Company can be reasonably determined.

Factors Affecting Results of Operations and Financial Condition

PLG-Related Costs

We incurred certain costs, primarily representing professional fees, related to our participation in a sales process, which resulted in the sale of Parlophone Label Group by Universal Music Group. Subsequent to the close of the PLG Acquisition, we also incurred other integration and other nonrecurring costs related to the PLG Acquisition. Total professional fees and integration costs amounted to approximately $5 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015, $59 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2014 and $43 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013, and were recorded in the consolidated statements of operation within general and administrative expense. All material integration costs have been incurred at the end of fiscal 2015.

Restructuring Costs and Expected Cost Savings and Other Synergies from the PLG Acquisition

In conjunction with the PLG Acquisition, we undertook a plan to achieve cost savings (the “Restructuring Plan”), primarily through headcount reductions and real estate consolidation. The Restructuring Plan was approved by our CEO. As of September 30, 2015, the Restructuring Plan was complete and resulted in approximately $74 million in restructuring costs, which were made up of employee-related costs of $67 million, real estate costs of $6 million and other costs of $1 million. Total restructuring costs of $2 million were incurred in the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015 with respect to these actions, which consisted of $2 million of real estate costs. Total restructuring costs of $50 million were incurred during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2014 with respect to these actions, which consisted of $45 million of employee-related costs, $4 million of real estate costs and $1 million of other costs. Total cash payments of $72 million to date have been made under the Restructuring Plan. Employee-related costs include all cash compensation and other employee benefits paid to terminated employees. Real estate costs include costs that will continue to be incurred without economic benefit to us, such as, among others, operating lease payments for office space no longer being used and moving costs incurred during relocation, costs incurred to close a facility and IT costs to wire a new facility.

The $74 million in restructuring costs do not include other integration and other nonrecurring costs related to the PLG Acquisition noted above, which do not qualify as restructuring costs. These actions were completed and resulted in cost savings and other synergies of approximately $70 million.

PLG Working Capital Adjustment

We recorded the final working capital adjustment of $38 million (£23 million) related to our PLG Acquisition in the fiscal year ended September 30, 2014. We also released various asset and liability balances as they are settled as a result of the final completion statement. This represents the finalization of the purchase price for PLG and resulted in a charge of $4 million recorded to the income statement as the measurement period for this acquisition has closed. We have accrued for the impact in our results for the year ended September 30, 2014 as it represents the culmination of our previously estimated adjusted purchase price for PLG as described in Note 4. The cash payment of this final amount was paid during the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

Severance Charges

We recorded severance charges unrelated to the PLG Acquisition of $6 million, $7 million, and $11 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively.  These charges resulted from actions taken to further align our cost structure with industry trends and other cost-containment initiatives.

2014 Debt Refinancing

On April 9, 2014, the Company completed a refinancing of its $765 million of 11.5% Senior Notes due 2018 (the “2014 Refinancing”). In connection with the 2014 Refinancing, the Company issued $275 million in aggregate principal amount of its 5.625% Senior Secured Notes due 2022 and $660 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.750% Senior Notes due 2022 and repaid $765 million of 11.50% Senior Notes due 2018.

See “Financial Condition and Liquidity” for more information.

38


 

Acquisition of Gold Typhoon

On July 22, 2014, we acquired the music catalog and current roster of recording artists of Gold Typhoon Group, one of the most successful independent music companies operating in the Greater China Region.  The Gold Typhoon catalog is one of the largest and most acclaimed collections of local pop and rock music from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, including many influential and popular releases from the early 1990s until the present day.

Other Business Models to Drive Incremental Revenue

Artist Services and Expanded-Rights Deals

As another means to offset declines in physical revenues and download revenues in Recorded Music, for many years we have signed recording artists to expanded-rights deals. Under our expanded-rights deals, we participate in the recording artist’s revenue streams, other than from recorded music sales, such as touring, merchandising and sponsorships. Artist services and expanded-rights Recorded Music revenue, which includes revenue from expanded-rights deals as well as revenue from our artist services business, represented approximately 10% of our total revenue during fiscal year ended September 30, 2015. Artist services and expanded-rights revenue will fluctuate from period to period depending upon touring schedules, among other things. Margins for the various artist services and expanded-rights revenue streams can vary significantly. The overall impact on margins will, therefore, depend on the composition of the various revenue streams in any particular period. For instance, participation in revenue from touring under our expanded-rights deals typically flows straight through to operating income with little associated cost. Revenue from some of our artist services businesses such as our management business and revenue from participation in touring and sponsorships under our expanded-rights deals are all high margin, while merchandising revenue under our expanded-rights deals and revenue from some of our artist services businesses such as our concert promotion businesses tend to be lower margin than our traditional revenue streams in Recorded Music.

Management Agreement

Upon completion of the Merger, the Company and Holdings entered into a management agreement with Access, dated as of the Merger Closing Date (the “Management Agreement”), pursuant to which Access will provide the Company and its subsidiaries with financial, investment banking, management, advisory and other services. Pursuant to the Management Agreement, the Company, or one or more of its subsidiaries, will pay Access a specified annual fee equal to approximately $9 million based on a formula contained in the agreement and reimburse Access for certain expenses incurred performing services under the agreement. The annual fee is payable quarterly. The Company and Holdings agreed to indemnify Access and certain of its affiliates against all liabilities arising out of performance of the Management Agreement.

Such costs incurred by the Company were approximately $9 million, $8 million and $19 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively, which includes the annual fee, but excludes $2 million of expenses reimbursed related to certain consultants with full time roles at the Company for each of the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, 2014 and 2013. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013, we also incurred an $11 million transaction fee related to the PLG Acquisition. Such amounts have been included as a component of selling, general and administrative expense in the accompanying statement of operations.

39


 

RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2015 Compared with Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2014 and Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2013

Consolidated Results

Revenues

Our revenues were composed of the following amounts (in millions):

 

 

For the Fiscal Year Ended

September 30,

 

 

2015 vs. 2014

 

 

2014 vs. 2013

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

$ Change

 

 

% Change

 

 

$ Change

 

 

% Change

 

Revenue by Type

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physical

$

767

 

 

$

822

 

 

$

900

 

 

$

(55

)

 

 

-7

%

 

$

(78

)

 

 

-9

%

Digital

 

1,145

 

 

 

1,103

 

 

 

997

 

 

 

42

 

 

 

4

%

 

 

106

 

 

 

11

%

Total Physical and Digital

 

1,912

 

 

 

1,925

 

 

 

1,897

 

 

 

(13

)

 

 

-1

%

 

 

28

 

 

 

2

%

Artist services and expanded-rights

 

301

 

 

 

332

 

 

 

270

 

 

 

(31

)

 

 

-9

%

 

 

62

 

 

 

23

%

Licensing

 

288

 

 

 

269

 

 

 

222

 

 

 

19

 

 

 

7

%

 

 

47

 

 

 

21

%

Total Recorded Music

 

2,501

 

 

 

2,526

 

 

 

2,389

 

 

 

(25

)

 

 

-1

%

 

 

137

 

 

 

6

%

Performance

 

184

 

 

 

206

 

 

 

197

 

 

 

(22

)

 

 

-11

%

 

 

9

 

 

 

5

%

Mechanical

 

86

 

 

 

101

 

 

 

113

 

 

 

(15

)

 

 

-15

%

 

 

(12

)

 

 

-11

%

Synchronization

 

103

 

 

 

102

 

 

 

98

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

%

 

 

4

 

 

 

4

%

Digital

 

99

 

 

 

97

 

 

 

83

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

%

 

 

14

 

 

 

17

%

Other

 

10

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

(1

)

 

 

-9

%

 

 

(1

)

 

 

-8

%

Total Music Publishing

 

482

 

 

 

517

 

 

 

503

 

 

 

(35

)

 

 

-7

%

 

 

14

 

 

 

3

%

Intersegment eliminations

 

(17

)

 

 

(16

)

 

 

(21

)

 

 

(1

)

 

 

6

%

 

 

5

 

 

 

-24

%

Total Revenue

$

2,966

 

 

$

3,027

 

 

$

2,871

 

 

$

(61

)