Record Label Market Share Q4 2022: Republic’s ‘Midnights’ Run Outpaces a Surging Sony
Bad Bunny and Harry Styles led Sony to big gains in current market share in 2022, while Republic's huge fourth quarter helped it end the year on an upswing.
With 2022 now officially in the books, the U.S. market share report is in: With Bad Bunny, Lil Nas X and Harry Styles leading the way, it was a banner year for Sony Music, as it gained in both overall market share and, more drastically, in current market share on the leading Universal Music Group, narrowing the gap among releases less than 18 months old to 6.58% in 2022 — a chasm that stood at 13.7% at the end of 2021.
But there was good news for UMG, too, as Republic Records rode a red-hot fourth quarter — led by Taylor Swift’s Midnights, the No. 2 album of 2022 despite only being released in October — to rank No. 1 among labels in current market share for the entirety of 2022, coming in at 10.38%. That makes it the only label to top double digits in the final ranking of the year. And UMG maintained a double-digit lead in overall market share over second-place Sony, leading 37.54% to 26.87% despite the latter’s gains throughout the year. Interscope Geffen A&M finished the year as the No. 1 label in overall market share once again, coming in at 9.63%, though it was down from the 10.08% share it held at the end of 2021.
Sony’s overall market share grew 0.76% year over year — up to 26.87% in 2022 from 26.11% in 2021 — marking a big stride forward for the music group. That gain was largely at the expense of Universal Music Group, which dropped 0.66% year over year, from 38.20% in 2021 to 37.54% at the end of 2022. Meanwhile, Warner Music Group’s market share grew from 16.06% in 2021 to 19.05% in 2022, though that is not an apples-to-apples comparison; this year, Warner-owned distributor ADA — which distributes dozens of independent labels — was factored into WMG’s market share, adding 2.96% to its total and accounting for almost all of Warner’s jump. (The move more accurately aligns Warner’s distributed market share with the other majors, which also include their distribution wings in their totals.) That switch also explains the commensurate dip for the indie sector, which fell from 19.63% in 2021 to 16.54% in 2022.
In current market share, Universal fell more than 4%, from 37.89% in 2021 to 33.57% in 2022, with the other three major players picking up that slack, led by Sony, which ballooned significantly almost 3 percentage points to 26.99% in 2022 — up from 24.19% in 2021. Warner — even taking into account the 3.32% in current share added by ADA — was also up, from 14.42% in 2021 to 18.30% in 2022 (an increase of 0.56% beyond the ADA bump), while the indie sector went from 23.50% last year to 21.14% in 2022, which is up 0.96% year over year when taking into account the loss of the ADA labels. Universal did, however, raise its catalog percentage from 38.33% in 2021 to 38.94% in 2022, while the other three all fell slightly.
Following Interscope in overall market share, Atlantic remained in second, at 8.89%, although it, too, was down slightly from 2021, when it posted a 9.17% overall share of the market. Republic ended the year in third — the only label in the top five to grow its overall market share year over year — with an 8.44% mark, up from 8.28% through the end of 2021, while Columbia (6.98%) and Capitol Music Group (6.40%) rounded out the top five. (A note on these labels: Interscope’s market share includes Verve [0.85%]; Atlantic’s includes the now-combined 300 Elektra Entertainment Group [2.35%], which would have been good enough for ninth place on its own; Republic’s includes Island [1.51%], Cash Money [0.71%], Big Loud, Imperial and Mercury; Columbia’s includes some indie labels from distributor RED; and Capitol’s includes Virgin [1.78%], Motown/Quality Control [1.05%], Capitol Christian Music Group [0.61%], Astralwerks and Blue Note.)
In sixth, Warner Records — which includes Rhino, Warner Latin and a chunk of Warner Nashville in its market share — grew year over year, from 6.16% in 2021 to 6.35% in 2022, having steadily increased its share each quarter of the year. RCA, whose market share stands alone, did the same; the label came in seventh, growing in each quarter to a finish of 5.12% — up from 4.89% in 2021 — wrapping the year strongly with the four-week No. 1 run of SZA’s SOS. In eighth, Epic Records also picked up market share, rising to 2.63% in 2022 from a 2.38% share in 2021. Def Jam, in ninth, faltered to 2.07%, down from 2.25% in 2021; while Sony Nashville jumped into 10th, leapfrogging UMG Nashville by growing its market share from 1.99% to 2.04% year over year.
UMG Nashville dropped to 11th, slipping from 2.04% in 2021 to 1.85% in 2022, while Concord jumped from 13th (1.68%) in 2021 to 12th (1.73%) in 2022. Disney — with its early-year Encanto boost — was up to 1.60% in 2022 from 1.40% the year before, good for 13th, while Universal Latin (1.47%) and Sony Latin (1.24%) rounded out the top 15, both up from the year prior as well.
Republic had a big fourth quarter (9.57%), with four major releases — Stray Kids’ Maxident, Swift’s Midnights, Drake and 21 Savage’s Her Loss and Metro Boomin’s Heroes & Villains, all of which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — collectively topping the Billboard 200 for eight weeks. That helped boost its current market share from 8.77% through the first three quarters of the year to 10.38% by year’s end, with that late push taking it to No. 1 among all labels in terms of current market share in 2022.
Atlantic, in second place in current share, essentially maintained its level from last year, coming in at 9.15% (from 9.16% in 2021), though it moved up one spot from third place; while Interscope dropped sharply, from a stellar 11.05% in 2021 to 8.72% in 2022, falling from first to third. Columbia and Capitol, in fourth and fifth, respectively, both fell in share, the former from 6.83% to 6.67% and the latter from 5.64% to 4.97%; while Warner and RCA, in sixth and seventh, both grew in share, the former from 4.48% to 4.86% and the latter from 4.37% to 4.65%.
Outside the top seven labels, there was a bigger shakeup in current market share. Epic Records moved up to eighth place, gaining from a 2.04% current share in 2021 to 2.23% in 2022, while Sony Nashville jumped to ninth, growing to 1.89% from 1.59% in 2021. Alamo made the biggest leap, all the way up to 10th in current share in 2021 at 1.56% in its first full year as a standalone Sony Music label; in 2021, its share was split between UMG and Sony as it was sold midway through the year, making an apples-to-apples comparison difficult. BMG, in 11th, held steady at 1.42%, while Disney, perhaps unsurprisingly, surged into 12th, up to 1.36% year over year from 0.52% in 2021. Def Jam, however, saw its current share sink from 2.21% in 2021 to 1.27% in 2022, finishing 13th, while Sony Latin (1.24%) and UMG Nashville (1.23%) rounded out the top 15.
As is generally the case, catalog market share tracked similarly to overall market share, as older titles generally perform consistently as a percentage of the market year over year. But both UMG and the indie sector grew year over year, while Sony and Warner, the latter accounting for the ADA switch, were both down slightly as well.