At the Grammys on Sunday evening, major labels won big across the most popular genres, and Universal Music Group nudged out Sony Music for the most wins -- 13 to 12 -- across 50 recorded music categories.
Major label-associated companies brought in 17 of the 20 Grammy categories -- 85 percent -- associated with pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, country and dance/electronic. Universal-owned Capitol Records came away with five of these (three trophies for Sam Smith and two wins by Beck, which label head Steve Barnett was quite pleased with). Sony-owned Columbia Records had four wins across 20 popular categories; two for Pharrell (best pop solo performance for "Happy" and best urban contemporary album for GIRL), one for Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga (best traditional pop vocal album for Cheek to Cheek) and one for Beyonce (best R&B performance for "Drunk in Love").
Independent labels won three of these 20 popular categories. Aphex Twin's Syro, on Warp Records, won best dance/electronic album, beating out four titles with major-label ownership. The win is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Warp had just a 0.09-percent track equivalent album market share last year, according to Nielsen Music. Second, the album is the only one of the three mentioned here without a major label attached in any way, as Warp Records is distributed by the independably owned Redeye Distribution.