Universal Music Group: God, Do We Love Amy Winehouse!

Universal Music Group solves the “how are we ever going to sell music again” riddle: Just find a starlet who spends equal amounts of time in trouble and in the tabloids. And make sure — this part is actually important — she makes music people like.

Vivendi’s music label says that Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” album sold an additional 2.2 million copies worldwide in the last quarter, bringing total sales past the 8 million mark. In the good old pre-Napster (1.0) days, 8 million albums sold worldwide would be good but not amazing: These days that’s extraordinary — all the more so because the album has now been selling for a couple of years. (A kind soul with access to SoundScan numbers points out that Amy has sold most of the albums abroad: She’s sold 1.9 million copies of the album in the U.S. to date.)

Vivendi doesn’t break out much detail on UMG, because it doesn’t have to, so not much visibility into these numbers: Q1 revenues grew 0.6%, to about $1.6 billion, while EBITDA grew 95% to $172 million. Given that UMG absorbed music publishing heavyweight BMG in the last year, those top line numbers should be significantly higher, so that’s worrisome. But not surprising.

(Side note: Plenty of chances to watch Amy perform “Rehab” on YouTube, but most of the clips we’ve seen have had the “embed” function disabled, presumably at UMG’s request. So cheers to CBS for letting this one through.)


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