Music stocks’ performance this week was a microcosm of the entertainment industry this decade, with streaming companies making up the top four performers while legacy broadcasting stocks finished at the bottom of the heap.

Chinese music streaming company Tencent Music Entertainment rose 6.0% to $10.95 following the company’s encouraging full-year earnings results on Tuesday (Mar. 19). Although total revenue declined 2.1%, the online music part of the business is booming. Subscription revenue from QQ Music, Kuwo Music and Kugou Music increased 39.1% to $1.7 billion while the number of subscribers grew by 18.2 million to 106.7 million. Tencent Music shares reached a 52-week high of $11.80 on Thursday (Mar. 21) but dropped 4% on Friday (Mar. 22) following news that Zhenyu Xie, president/chief technology officer, tendered his resignation. Xie will be replaced on the board of directors by CFO Shirley Hu

Spotify gained 3.9% to $264.95, bringing its year-to-date improvement to 41.0%. On Tuesday, the streaming company released its fourth annual Loud & Clear report, a breakdown of the prior year’s royalty payouts. In 2023, the number of artists who received at least $10,000 from Spotify increased 16% to 66,000 — 2.7 times more than the number who received that much in 2017. The number of artists who earned $1 million or more from Spotify rose 18% to 1,250. 

Two smaller companies posted even larger gains. Anghami shares rocketed 56.8% to $1.74 this week and reached as high as $2.20 after a regulatory filing revealed that Saudi media company MBC Group had amassed nearly a 14% stake in the Abu Dhabi-based music streamer. The investment helped give Anghami some breathing room after the Nasdaq warned in October that the stock faced delisting for closing under $1 for the prior 30 days. Anghami closed below $1 from Feb. 1 to Mar. 7 but has closed above $1 since Mar. 15. 

LiveOne jumped 10.9% to $2.04 after announcing on Monday (Mar. 18) that it expects record quarterly revenue with the help of increased Tesla sales, 30 new podcasts and more than $2 million in monthly recurring revenue from clients in its B2B streaming business. Additionally, the company revealed that it repurchased $250,000 worth of stock in the previous 30 days and extinguished $3 million of payables of PodcastOne, the podcast company it spun off in September 2023.  

Streaming companies’ gains helped the Billboard Global Music Index rise 1.3% to a record 1,719.66 this week, breaking a two-week skid and topping the previous record of 1,715.81 set the week ended Mar. 1. The 20-company index had an even number of winners and losers. 

Major indexes rose to new heights after the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated the central bank still expected three interest rate cuts in 2024 despite a recent increase in inflation. In the United States, the Nasdaq composite rose 2.9% to 16,428.82, a new closing high, and reached an intraday high on Thursday. The S&P 500 finished the week up 2.3% to 5,234.18, even after falling 0.1% on Friday. In the United Kingdom, the FTSE 100 gained 2.6% to 7,930.92. South Korea’s KOSPI composite index rose 3.1% to 2,748.56. China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2% to 3,048.03.   

Broadcasters were at the opposite end of the spectrum. The index’s biggest decliner was iHeartMedia, which fell 7.7% to $1.91. After a sluggish year for national advertising, iHeartMedia executives have predicted 2024 will be “a recovery year” and first-quarter revenue decline will be less severe than previous quarters. Maybe so, but investors have dropped its stock 28.5% year to date. 

Two other radio companies were among the bottom four stocks. Cumulus Media shares fell 6.6% to $3.41 and are down 35.9% in the first 12 weeks of the year. Cumulus’ revenue was down 11.4% in 2023, and CEO Mary Berner warned investors in February that “choppy” ad demand limited its ability to forecast in 2024.

SiriusXM, which is optimistic about its redesigned streaming app, dropped 4.2% to $3.88 and has fallen 29.1% this year. Liberty Media, which owns 84% of SiriusXM’s outstanding shares, plans to merge the SiriusXM stock with the Liberty SiriusXM track stock later this year. 

Glenn Peoples
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