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paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

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45. EMI

Music, United Kingdom (Private)

Last year’s rank: N/A

Digital Content Revenue

$904,320,000 (32% of total)


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Digital Snapshot

EMI and other labels are benefitting from  new growth in the music business prompted by growing digital singles sales. Now it is keen to milk the unlimited-access opportunity presented by new services like Spotify, to find new revenue and new listeners. It may not be bringing in significant new money yet (major labels took equity in Spotify in return for royalties the service would have paid them) – but the labels’ new OpenEMI initiative (an API through which developers can make EMI music and videos available to end users more easily) demonstrated a new inclination to think outside traditional music licensing boundaries.

Key Move

After taking full ownership of EMI following Terra Firma’s inability to pay loans for its earlier purchase, Citibank agreed to sell EMI’s recorded music arm to Universal and its publishing business to a Sony-led consortium. The deal promises to shrink music’s four majors into two, and push another British company into foreign hands, but it faces regulatory hurdles.

Our Methodology

Official figures are unavailable since the ownership change. We estimate EMI Group’s 2011/12 revenue directionally, based on indicators from the last disclosed annual figures, for 2009/10, and based on the industry-wide standard of 32% digital revenue in record labels.

Source: Our estimates

— RA

21 Responses to “paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies”

  1. Good Job Mr. Robert

    I am a freelancing SEO and SMM professional. The recent update of google penguin and panda has changed the SEO pattern radically.

    And google has done this algorithm change to spread their digital ads business nothing than this.

    I really hate this because, making loss to others for their own profit is a Digital Crime and Weak Business policy from my view. Check my site Arsenal Highlights

  2. ciaranj

    If you want to rank things on revenue, fine. But then don’t call it the ‘Most Succesful List’: Microsoft might ‘make’ $3.9b on digital content, but it also loses around $3b every year too.

  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I think this is a terrific list despite any reservations some people have about the methodology. It really demonstrates the huge growth potential of digital media companies in some of the emerging markets. Also, as a scientist – I note Elsevier being top 5 in revenue (Elsevier is publisher behind many of the top scientific journals).

  4. Mindbendingpuzzles

    What about Valve and their digital games platform: Steam. I know they are a private company and figures are hard to come by but in 2011 Forbes reckoned they have more than 50% of the 4 billion dollar PC games download market. That is huge.

    I would really love to see Paid Content do some investigation on Valve because they are an incredibly innovative company who really push digital retailing to its limits.

  5. Groupon and Monster are’t really media companies. I’m not even sure that ad agencies should qualify in the same category as Viacom or Time Warner. Totally different business model.

  6. Brendan

    Why is eBay not in this list? They have an ad business on eBay.com and their classified sites, and the seller fees they collect are essentially paid ads since the platform doesn’t handle the items. This list is also missing Alibaba Group from China (including Taobao), and Gree from Japan.

  7. Zato Gibson

    “Creating this list wasn’t easy.”

    I can imagine. Manipulating the numbers to get Microsoft into the top 10 must have been really tough.