Skip to content
Subscriber Only

The Internet Saved the Record Labels

As streaming surges, Vivendi is mulling a sale of Universal that could value the music group at $25 billion.

relates to The Internet Saved the Record Labels
Illustration: 731

When Vivendi SA took over Universal Music Group in 2000, the industry was riding high on bumper sales of CDs, though the investment soon soured as illegal downloads surged. CD revenue plunged by two-thirds over the next decade, and by the early 2010s, unloading Universal would’ve been a tough sell; who would pay a premium for a company whose main product—pop songs—was widely available for free? But today, Vivendi is considering the sale of a stake in Universal that could value the label at more than $25 billion.

“The notion that recorded music has value was one that as recently as a decade ago was still in question,” says Bryan Gildenberg, an analyst at researcher Kantar Consulting. A sale of Universal would be “a remarkable testimony to the resurgence and the importance of content.”