Publishers Q2 Report: Sony/ATV Is Holding Onto the No. 1 Spot -- But Barely

Erik Voake
The Weeknd performs at the HARD Summer Music Festival in Pomona, California on August 1, 2015.

The publisher wins its 12th consecutive No. 1 ranking by a fraction as The Weeknd's "Earned It" helps drive runner-up Warner/Chappell to its best quarter since Billboard rankings began in 2006.

Sony/ATV has had a lock on the No. 1 spot in the publishers ranking for three years running. But the second quarter of 2015 saw the company holding its lead by just 0.3 percent -- and, for the first time since Sony/ATV began administering EMI Music Publishing in July 2012, its market share dipped below 20 percent.

For the quarter ended June 30, Sony/ATV generated a 19.7 percent market share by landing 52 of the top 100 radio songs -- a nearly 5 percent drop from the first quarter, when it turned in a 24.3 percent share on the strength of 55 songs. Walk the Moon’s "Shut Up and Dance," the second quarter’s No. 2 song, was its top performer; the company also was the top country publisher.

The quarter’s big gainer? Warner/Chappell Music, which scored its highest market share -- 19.4 percent -- since Billboard began ranking the top 10 publishers in the second quarter of 2006. Leading the way for Warner/Chappell was the quarter’s top song, The Weeknd’s "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)." The company placed 42 titles in the top 100, the same number it had in the first quarter, when its share was just 14 percent.

BMG also had a big quarter, with slightly less than an 11 percent share on the strength of 27 top 100 titles, the company’s best showing since it first entered the rankings in Q2 2010 -- and a big step up from its 7 percent and 22 songs in Q1. Its top cut was Jason Derulo’s "Want to Want Me." Universal Music Publishing Group was down slightly, to 15.1 percent from 15.3 percent in the first quarter -- and dropped from No. 2 to No. 3.

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Indie Black River Entertainment landed in the top 10 for the second time since 2006, with 1.8 percent on four cuts in the top 100, including the No. 23 song, Sam Hunt’s "Take Your Time."

The publishers ranking measures the market share of publishing administrators, and are based on Nielsen Music rankings of the top 100 radio airplay songs for the quarter and song splits compiled by The Harry Fox Agency. Nielsen Music detects airplay on 1,569 pop radio stations and 224 country outlets.

This article first appeared in the Aug. 29 issue of Billboard.