Universal Music & Video Distribution (UMVD) maintained its leadership in U.S. album market share in the first quarter, but suffered declines from its performance last year.

Universal Music & Video Distribution (UMVD) maintained its leadership in U.S. album market share in the first quarter, but suffered declines from its performance last year.

For the three months to March 28, UMVD posted a 26.6% total album market share, down from the 28.3% it had in the corresponding period in 2003 and the 28.1% it had for all of last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The independent sector collectively was No. 2 in total album market share for the quarter, with 17.1%, up from the 16.4% it had in first-quarter 2003.

BMG, which finished third, enjoyed the biggest surge, finishing the quarter with 16.7%, vs. 13.5% last year. BMG's gain was obviously propelled by its strength in current market share; it gained nearly five percentage points in that category, moving to 20.3% from the 15.8% it had in the first quarter of 2003. What's more, of the 10 best-selling albums of the year so far, five were distributed by BMG.

WEA and Sony Music Distribution both suffered declines in total album market share. WEA was at No. 4 with 15.3%, down from the 16.5% it had in the first quarter last year. Sony was at 13.4%, vs. 15.4%.

While EMI Music Marketing (EMM) finished last, it enjoyed a gain, finishing the first quarter with 10.8%, up one percentage point from the corresponding period last year.

In current album market share, UMVD scored 28.3%, down from the 30.9% it had in the first quarter of 2003. The indies placed third behind BMG, with 14.7%, followed by WEA, 13.8%; Sony, 12%; and EMM, 10.8%. EMM has the top-selling album so far in 2004, Norah Jones' "Feels Like Home," which has scanned 2.4 million units.