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Publishers Quarterly: ‘License’ Drives Sony to No. 1 on Hot 100, Universal Rules Airplay

Sony Music Publishing pulls into No. 1 on Hot 100 ranking, while UMPG takes its spot at Top Radio Airplay.

Sony Music Publishing came in at No. 1. on the Hot 100 Songs publishers ranking for the period from January 1 to April 1, but the company was dethroned by Universal Music Publishing Group on Top Radio Airplay after a 13-consecutive-quarter reign.

Olivia Rodrigo‘s “Drivers License” dominated Hot 100 Songs, and she and co-writer Daniel “Dan” Leonard Nigro tied atop the list’s songwriters ranking. On Top Radio Airplay, 24kGoldn‘s “Mood” (featuring iann dior) remained at No 1. (UMPG and Kobalt control stakes in the song.) Kobalt’s Finneas Baird O’Connell (better known as FINNEAS) was the No. 1 writer on Top Radio Airplay, with stakes in two songs: his sister Billie Eilish‘s “Therefore I Am” (No. 4) and Justin Bieber & Benny Blanco‘s “Lonely” (No. 12).


Sony has led Hot 100 Songs in seven quarters out of the chart’s nine-quarter history, and had a stake in 59 songs with a 23.56% market share (up from 54 songs but down from 24.13% last quarter). It ranked second with 20.69% on Top Radio Airplay with 55 songs, including Chris Brown and Young Thug‘s “Go Crazy” (No. 2).

UMPG’s Top Radio Airplay lead reflects its increased market share (22.59%, up from 20.56%) with 55 songs (from 58), including Ariana Grande‘s “34+35,” (at No. 5). On Hot 100 Songs, where the publisher ranked second, it earned a 22.64% market share with 58 songs (up from 20.29% and 50 songs), including The Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights” (No. 2).

Market-share calculations on both charts could change — but not enough to alter the rankings — because both Sony and UMPG are disputing the shares that the Harry Fox Agency assigned for Brown and Young Thug’s “Go Crazy.” Publishers of writers on that song have claimed over 100% of it, and when that happens, HFA assigns a pro rata share to each publisher until the matter is resolved. If Sony and UMPG have the stakes in the songs that they claim, as opposed to what HFA assigned, their shares could increase by 40 to 70 basis points, although it’s not clear which publishers would lose share.


On both Hot 100 Songs and Top Radio Airplay, rankings three to five remained the same as the previous quarter: Kobalt, Warner Chappell Music and BMG.

Kobalt’s market share rebounded on both rankings, growing to a 18.26% market share on Top Radio Airplay, with 48 songs (from 16.79% with 44 songs) and to 16,99% market share on Hot 100 Songs, with 42 (from 15.27% with 39 songs).

Warner Chappell also grew its market share on both charts (for the second straight quarter), reaching 16.05% market. share and 55 songs on Top Radio Airplay (from 15.15% and 49 songs), including “Go Crazy.” On Hot 100 Songs, the publisher reached 16.97% market share with 53 songs (from 14.82% and 40 songs), including “Blinding Lights.” Warner Chappell led the Country Airplay chart for the 17th consecutive quarter, with a 26.12% market share.

BMG stumbled on both rankings, dropping to a 7.74% market share with 25 songs on Top Radio Airplay (from 8.22% and 30) and to a 6.46% market share with 21 songs on Hot 100 Songs from 7.61% and 27).


On Top Radio Airplay, Round Hill Music came in sixth with 2.41% market share and eight songs, including Thomas Rhett‘s “What’s Your Country Song” (No. 26); Reservoir seventh with 1.55% market share and nine songs, including “Go Crazy”; Pulse Music Group eighth with 1.50% market share and seven songs, including Pop Smoke‘s “What You Know Bout Love” ( No. 13); Big Machine Music ninth with 1.11% market share and four songs, including Luke Combs‘s “Better Together” (No. 22); and Downtown Music Publishing — which sold the song copyrights it owned to Concord on April 26 — 10th with 0.92% market share and seven songs, including Ava Max‘s “Kings & Queens” (No. 16).

On Hot 100 Songs, Round Hill Music ranked sixth with 2.54% market share and 10 songs, including “What’s Your Country Song” (No. 39); Reservoir seventh with 1.08% market share and seven songs, including “34+35”; the Hipgnosis-owned Big Deal/Words & Music eighth with 1.05% market share and three songs, including Erica Banks’ “Buss It” (No. 56); and Big Machine Music ninth with 1.01% market share and three songs, including Luke Combs’ “Better Together” (No. 20). ST Music, also known as Songtrust, made its publisher ranking debut at tenth with a 0.71% market share and five songs, including Pop Smoke’s “For the Night” (featuring Lil Baby and DaBaby), the chart’s No. 9 song.

Publishers Quarterly: 'Drivers License' Is Top Song

A version of this article originally appeared in the May 15, 2020 issue of Billboard.