Signaling a redoubled commitment to expand its stake in R&B and hip-hop, Atlantic appointed Michael Kyser as its first president of black music at the top of last year. At the time, Warner Music Group's 14.2% share of 2010 U.S. R&B album sales (which include hip-hop) was a distant third behind Universal Music Group (47.8%) and Sony Music Entertainment (26.7%), according to Nielsen SoundScan. That still represented a sizable gain from 9.8% in 2005. Meanwhile, Atlantic accounted for most of WMG's 2010 R&B albums tally, with a 9% share of the market. By the end of 2011, Atlantic accounted for 6.7% of U.S. recorded-music sales, ahead of Warner Bros. (5.8%) and rivals RCA (6.6%) and Universal Republic (6.3%). Contributing to Atlantic's banner year was rapper Wiz Khalifa, whose debut album, Rolling Papers, bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 thanks to such hits as the platinum-selling "Roll Up" and "Black and Yellow."
Previously a VP at Def Jam, Kyser joined Atlantic as executive VP of urban music in 2004. "When I came into Atlantic, we were kind of all over the place in R&B/hip-hop," Kyser told Billboard last March. "The one thing I wanted to focus on was putting together a tight lineup -- not more than 20 artists on the urban roster." Kyser's tight lineup includes Lupe Fiasco, Tank, Estelle, Janelle Monáe, Musiq Soulchild, Andre Harrell's Harrell Records and B.o.B, whose newly released sophomore set, Strange Clouds, debuted at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. On tap are high-profile releases by Flo Rida, Trey Songz and T.I. - Gail Mitchell, Los Angeles