The Universal Music Group continues its reign as the top U.S. distributor of albums and track-equivalent albums, finishing the first half with 30.15% share, which edges out Sony Music Entertainment's 29.93% share, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
UMG's market share rose thanks to its placement of eight albums in the year's top 20 album at the midway point, including the No. 2 album Lionel Richie's Tuskegee. Sony Music had a stronger performance in the year's top selling albums so far -- claiming half of the spots in the Top 10 -- but it only had a total of six of the top 20. Sony's presence on the top of the charts was led by Adele's 21, the No. 1 selling album of the year with 3.67 million units.
The Warner Music Group came in third with an 18.4% share for the first six months of the year, while EMI placed fourth among the majors with 10.1% share. WMG's best selling album -- and the only one it placed in the top 20 best selling album for the first six months -- is the Black Key's El Camino, which has scanned 424,000 units to rank No. 16, while EMI placed four albums in the top 20: Now 41, which has scanned 714,000 units and ranks as No. 5; Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines, which has scanned 575,000 units and ranks No. 7; Lady Antebellum's Own The Night, which this year has scanned 465,000 units of its total 1.7 million units; and Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto, which this year has scanned 415,000 units of its 1.4 million total units.
Track equivalent albums, also known as TEA, are calculated whereby 10 tracks equal one album. The combination of albums plus TEA is the main barometer the industry uses in tracking market share, but it's not the only one.
Looking at just album market share, Sony actually outpaced UMG, coming in as the No. 1 distributor in that configuration with a 30.4% share, versus UMG's 29% share. Behind by 10 percentage points, WMG garnered 18.4% share, while EMI's slice of the pie for the first half was a 10.1% share.
In looking at track market share, UMG was by far the leader with a nearly 32.7% share, outpacing Sony's 25.7% share by almost seven percentage points. WMG came in third with an 18.7% share, but that was good enough to beat out EMI's 7.8% share by almost 10 percentage points.
Moving over to current market share -- which is defined as sales generated within the first 18 months of a title's availability, or longer if the title stays within the top 100 of the Billboard 200, or has songs still active at radio -- for albums plus TEA, UMG has the top ranking with a 31.7% share, thanks to the whopping 36.3% share it has in current track scans. Sony ranks second with 29.3% followed by WMG with 16.3% and EMI with 9.9%.
Finally, looking at catalog market share plus TEA, UMG managed to knock off Sony from the top spot with 28.7% share, versus the latter's 28.62% slice of the pie. In the corresponding period of the prior year, Sony held the top spot with a 28% share versus UMG's 27.9% share. UMG was able to win the top spot by growing its share of catalog albums, which increased to 28.2% this year from 26.8% in the corresponding period of 2011. WMG had its best showing in this category with a 20.3% share, but that was down from the 21.1% share it had in the first six months of 2011. And EMI came in with an 8.9% share.
Meanwhile, the indie market share has been left out of the above rankings. That's because all the above market share rankings are based on which company distributes the music. So in the case of UMG, its market share includes Fontana while Sony's market share includes RED; WMG includes Alternative Distribution Alliance and EMI includes Caroline's share. Under that definition, the indie sector's market share collectively ranged from 9.9% to 14.9%. Since SoundScan doesn't calculate market share by ownership, the barometer endorsed by A2IM, Billboard is still calculating that market share and will provide a more complete picture of indie market share in the upcoming days and in next week's Billboard issue.