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Beggars Can Be Choosers

“They are but beggars that can count their worth” –William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

Beggars Group, one of the largest and most powerful independent record companies in the world, posted revenues of £70.6m in 2016, with a net profit of over £11m. Who says that all of the money and power has shifted away from the recorded industry?

The figures were bolstered by the first full-year performance from Adele’s third album ‘25’ (pictured), which is signed to XL/Beggars across the world outside the US and South America. Beggar’s stable of labels includes renowned indie labels such as 4AD, Rough Trade, XL and Matador.

The figures were slightly down on 2015, in which the company reported £72.9m with a net profit of £12.9m. Alongside Adele, key releases last year included albums from Daughter, Anohni and Savages. The company also acquired the Radiohead back catalogue in 2016 and released the band’s latest album A Moon Shaped Pool.

The group noted an unsurprising further shift to streaming in 2016, while noting that a drop in physical formats has slowed thanks to a resurgent demand for vinyl.

Serving as a handy microcosm of the issues the industry is currently facing, a statement also addressed the value gap, saying: “The huge increase in music consumption has been driven by streaming services and the audience these services can capture. However, this has also highlighted the growing discrepancy (‘the value gap’) between the levels of remuneration returned to rights holders via ad-supported user-generated services versus premium subscription paying services”.

It continued; “The European Commission have indicated that that they are preparing to deal with growing concern over rights holders‘ ability to negotiate fair remuneration and the problems this poses for legitimate premium services. The issues outlined above may impact on the long-term business model and underlying profitability, in parting the uncertainty of the effectiveness of European regulatory influence over powerful US technology companies”.

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