Cloud Music Revenue Fell 16% In Third Quarter

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Gains in subscribers and cost control measures helped gross profit margin almost double to 27.2%, the company said.

Netease Cloud Music

A mobile phone shows app Netease cloud music interface. Costfoto/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Chinese music streaming company Cloud Music’s revenue fell 16.3% to 1.95 billion RMB ($270.4 million) in the third quarter, the company’s controlling shareholder, tech giant NetEase, announced on Thursday (Nov. 16).

Gross profit margin of 27.2% was almost double the 14.2% seen in the prior-year quarter and about even with the 27% gross margin in the second quarter. Cloud Music attributed the higher gross margin to the gain in subscriptions and cost control measures.

Through the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, Cloud Music had revenue of 6.6 billion RMB ($806.1 million), down 11.1% year over year. Gross profit almost doubled, to 1.5 billion RMB ($205.8 million), while gross profit margin (as a percent of revenue) also nearly doubled from 13.2% to 25.5%. 

Cloud Music, which spun off from NetEase in 2021 and trades on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, said it “considerably strengthened its music-centric membership monetization and further improved profitability.” The company also pointed to its premium offerings that include “expansive content and innovative features.” 

Investors appeared to focus on the drop in revenue rather than the other metrics and developments. The news sent Cloud Music’s share price down 12.6% to 82.25 HKD ($10.55) on Monday (Nov. 20).

Because Cloud Music’s unaudited results were released as part of NetEase’s third-quarter earnings report, the company released few metrics and did not say exactly how many subscribers it acquired in the quarter. Three months ago, Cloud Music announced it had 41.8 million subscribers on June 30, up 11% from 37.6 million a year earlier.

While music subscriptions have been on the rise, the social entertainment side of the business is faltering. In the first half of 2023, Cloud Music’s social entertainment business declined 23.8% year over year due to a crackdown by Chinese authorities over livestreaming features that can be used for illegal gambling. Social entertainment accounted for about half of Cloud Music’s total revenue in the first half of 2023.

Tencent Music Entertainment has also suffered a sharp drop in social entertainment revenue while growing its music subscription business. While its music subscribers grew 20.8% to 103 million and subscription revenue jumped 42% in the third quarter, its social entertainment revenue fell 49%, causing total revenue to fall 10.8% to 6.57 billion RMB ($900 million). 

Cloud Music third-quarter financial metrics:

Revenue of 1.95 billion RMB ($270.4 million), down 16.3% year over year. Cost of revenue of 1.42 billion RMB ($196.9 million), down 29% year over year. Gross profit of 525.7 million RMB ($73.5 million), up 61% year over year.

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