As the stardust settles on the May 15 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas — a celebration of the past year’s top hitmakers — it’s time to recognize the music groups and labels that released, marketed and promoted the artists and hits that brought home awards. Billboard compiled this ranking of the top 40 labels based on estimated 2021 revenue (unless otherwise specified), total market share (for labels) and that non-fungible token of industry success: cultural influence, along with a review of their wins so far this year. Big Loud and Rimas, the labels behind Morgan Wallen and Bad Bunny, respectively, can’t compete in terms of cold, hard numbers, but their artists have had such a huge impact on the market share of their major-label distributors over the past year that such clout, Billboard’s editors agree, merits higher rankings on this list.
All U.S. revenue estimated by Ed Christman.
1. Lucian Grainge
Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $3.53B
Includes revenue from: Interscope Geffen A&M, Republic Records, Def Jam Recordings, Capitol Music Group, Universal Latino, Universal Music Group Nashville, Universal Music Enterprises, Island, Big Machine Label Group, Cash Money Records, Victor Victor Worldwide and Motown Records, as well as Roc Nation, and its distributed labels Concord and Disney Music Group, as well as its indie distributors Ingrooves and Virgin.
Group market share: 38.20%
The largest label group’s direct public offering became the most successful of 2021, putting the music giant’s valuation at $36.25 billion, as of May 18. UMG-owned labels Interscope Geffen A&M and Republic also finished the year as the Nos. 1 and 3 labels of the year, respectively, in terms of revenue and market share.
2022 momentum: In February, UMG announced that it had acquired the song and master recording catalogs of its longtime artist Neil Diamond. Billboard estimates the value of the catalog at $145 million. UMG also became the home of Aerosmith’s entire recorded-music catalog.
2. Rob Stringer
Chairman, Sony Music Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $2.40B
Includes revenue from: Columbia Records, RCA Records, Epic Records, Sony Commerical Music Group, Sony Latin Iberia, Sony Music Nashville, Alamo, Arista Records, RECORDS, Rimas Entertainment and The Orchard.
Group market share: 26.11%
Sony spent 2021 in acquisition overdrive. The label group kept Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan in the family by purchasing the former’s masters and publishing catalog in a $500 million deal in December and the latter’s master recordings earlier in the year. The company also acquired Todd Moscowitz’s Alamo Records and Kobalt’s distribution company, AWAL, which the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority cleared in May. And Adele and Lil Nas X were among the artists who helped boost Sony’s current market share.
2022 momentum: Sony’s music operations — which include Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Music Publishing and Sony Japan — posted a 22.1% increase in sales with revenue growing to $7.74 billion for the year ended March 31, compared with $6.34 billion in 2021.
3. Stephen Cooper
CEO, Warner Music Group
CEO, Warner Recorded Music
Estimated U.S. revenue: $1.77B
Includes revenue from: Atlantic Records, Elektra Music Group, 300 Entertainment, Warner Records, Warner Nashville, Rhino Records, Warner Music Latin America and its indie distributor the Alternative Distribution Alliance, which is also estimated and included in WMG’s overall market share.
Group market share: 19.17%
WMG expanded its footprint through the acquisitions of both 300 Entertainment — the label of Megan Thee Stallion and Young Thug — for $400 million and the Doug Morris-founded 12Tone Music, home of Anderson .Paak and Dolly Parton. The label group’s late-2020 deal with Mike Caren’s Artist Partner Group also moved APG’s existing catalog of recordings and artist roster to Atlantic Records, which scored the second-highest revenue and market share for a label in 2021, while $235 million of the label group’s total revenue came from its bets on gaming and social media.
2022 momentum: WMG revenue grew 10.1% to $1.38 billion in its second fiscal quarter due to growth in streaming, physical sales and the return of the merchandise and touring sectors.
4. Hartwig Masuch
Estimated U.S. revenue: $113M
Market share: 1.11%
The aspiring “fourth major” punched above its weight last year, growing its global revenue, including publishing, by 10% to almost $785 million in 2021, through a partnership with global investment firm KKR to acquire ZZ Top’s music interests, including the band’s publishing catalog, in a deal reportedly valued at $50 million. Other major rights acquisitions included deals with The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac co-founder Mick Fleetwood and, in November, Mötley Crüe’s entire recorded-music catalog. On the label side, BMG signed Duran Duran, Santana, Bryan Adams and Louis Tomlinson, and its urban division, run by Tim Reid, struck a joint venture with Maxwell’s Musze label that lured the R&B singer away from his label of 25 years, Columbia.
2022 momentum: BMG bolstered its reputation as an artist-friendly company in May, when it released a statement calling out record companies and music publishers for their early stances to freeze mechanical royalty rates at 9.1 cents for five more years. (The rate was eventually increased to 12 cents per song in a negotiated settlement but has not yet been approved by the Copyright Royalty Board.) It also called for the industry to abandon unfair and anachronistic deductions, such as controlled composition clauses that allow labels to pay 75% of the mechanical rate — and freeze the rate at the level that is in effect at the time of a title’s release, regardless of subsequent increases — for artists who write the songs that appear on their records.
5. John Janick
Chairman/CEO, Interscope Geffen A&M
Vice chairman, Interscope Geffen A&M
Estimated U.S. revenue: $937.64M
Market share: 10.08%
Interscope released albums by two of the biggest pop stars of 2021: breakout newcomer Olivia Rodrigo, whose “drivers license” became the first song to hit 1 billion global streams in 2021, and Billie Eilish, whose Happier Than Ever album spent its first three weeks of release atop the Billboard 200, buoyed by films for Apple+ and Disney+ that were co-produced by IGA. Rodrigo scored seven 2022 Grammy Award nominations, including each of the Big Four categories, while Eilish received six. Janick and Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge also lured BTS away from Sony for a new licensing and distribution deal through Geffen/Ingrooves/UMG. Moneybagg Yo, through Interscope’s partnership with Yo Gotti’s label CMG, and Latin artist Kali Uchis added to the luster.
2022 momentum: The retro hip-hop 2022 Super Bowl halftime show with Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg and other genre greats put 12 IGA albums on the Billboard 200, and newly minted superstar Olivia Rodrigo took home three Grammys, including best new artist.
6. Monte Lipman
Founder/CEO, Republic Records
Founder/COO, Republic Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $760.86M
Includes revenue from: Island, Cash Money, Victor Victor and revenue and market share generated by Morgan Wallen, whose music is released in partnership with Big Loud.
Market share: 8.28%
Though Republic’s market share is less than Atlantic’s, the label ranks higher on this list because of its domination of the Billboard charts and its roster of superstars, from Taylor Swift to Drake. Republic finished 2021 at No. 1 on the year-end Top Labels chart for the fifth time in seven years thanks in large part to breakthrough artist Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album, the top album of 2021, according to Luminate. But the bulk of its success came from the label’s established acts: Drake’s Certified Lover Boy landed 21 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in its first week of release and made Drizzy the first artist to land nine of those tracks in the top 10; The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” became the record-holder for most weeks on the Hot 100 (90); and Taylor Swift’s rerecorded versions of Fearless and Red, both released in 2021, made her only the second woman to score at least 10 No. 1 Billboard 200 albums (behind Barbra Streisand).
2022 momentum: Glass Animals’ No. 1 single, “Heat Waves,” remains in the Billboard Hot 100 top five, as of May 13, after 68 weeks on the chart. The label signed Grammy winner Daniel Caesar and expanded its partnership with JYP Entertainment, one of the world’s biggest K-pop labels, that will include fostering boy band Stray Kids and girl group ITZY.
7. Craig Kallman
Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records
Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $830.72M
Includes revenue from: Elektra Music Group, 300 Entertainment and 12Tone.
Market share: 9.17%
Atlantic began the year with the release of breakout rapper Pooh Shiesty’s Shiesty Season album and ended it with 17-year-old GAYLE’s No. 1 Billboard global charts hit, “abcdefu.” In between, Cardi B’s “Up” became her fifth No. 1 Hot 100 hit. Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s Silk Sonic ruled the summer with “Leave the Door Open,” one of the five longest-leading No. 1s in the history of the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. Rock veterans Coldplay debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and the global charts with its BTS collaboration, “My Universe.” And Ed Sheeran notched his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200.
2022 momentum: As of May 13, Atlantic had four artists in the top 20 of the Hot 100: Jack Harlow at No. 3 with “First Class”; Kodak Black at No. 16 with “Super Gremlin”; Sheeran at No. 18 with “Bad Habits”; and Lizzo, on the rise with “About Damn Time,” at No. 19. Meanwhile, GAYLE continues to hang in the top 25 after 24 weeks on the chart, and Silk Sonic took home song and record of the year honors at the Grammys.
8. Ron Perry
Chairman/CEO, Columbia Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $673.06M
Includes revenue from: RECORDS and a portion of labels distributed by Sony-owned distributor The Orchard.
Market share: 7.15%
The label shook off key departures — A&R leaders Justin Eshak and Imran Majid left to run Island Records, and urban music co-head Shawn Holiday departed to start a label with Irving Azoff — to rule the Hot 100 No. 1 spot for a combined 33 weeks, the most in a year by the label since Luminate began keeping score in 1991. (Holiday’s co-head Phylicia Fant also left in January.) Adele’s “Easy on Me” spent eight weeks there, and her album 30 scanned the largest annual sales of any album since 2018. Lil Nas X and BTS also took the top spot, but Columbia’s year was defined by the successes of new artists including Polo G, The Kid LAROI and 24kGoldn. Executive vp/GM Jenifer Mallory led the marketing strategies with Perry and the Columbia team for many of those hits and breakthroughs over the past year, including Adele’s 30, Rosalía’s Motomami, and Harry Styles’ Fine Line and current smash Harry’s House.
2022 momentum: Styles is showing staying power as an international pop star. As of May 14, his “As It Was” single spent its fifth week at No. 1 on both of Billboard’s global charts.
9. Michelle Jubelirer
Chairman/CEO, Capitol Music Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $639.20M
Includes revenue from: Motown and distribution divisions Virgin and Capitol Christian Music Group.
Market share: 6.81%
The promotion of respected CMG veteran Jubelirer in December, after the brief reign of Jeff Vaughn, has reenergized the label group that counts Halsey, Katy Perry and Sam Smith among its artists. Last year, Halsey scored her third No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power and took home songwriter of the year honors at the BMI Pop Awards. Perry’s collaboration with Alesso, “When I’m Gone,” hit No. 4 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart in January. And Mooski, who signed with Capitol last year, and former 2019 Eurovision winner Duncan Laurence also charted songs on the Hot 100.
2022 momentum: Jubelirer wasted no time in refreshing CMG’s executive ranks, promoting Arjun Pulijal to president, Jeremy Vuernick to president of A&R and Rebecca “Dimplez” Ijeoma to senior vp of digital marketing and content development.
10. Peter Edge
Chairman/CEO, RCA Records
COO, RCA Records
President, RCA Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $485M
Market share: 4.89%
Billboard’s No. 4 Greatest Pop Star of 2021, Doja Cat, seemed to be everywhere last year, thanks in large part to RCA, which has dominated the resurgence of R&B on the charts. A TikTok challenge catapulted “Sultry,” from her 2019 album, Hot Pink, into the top 20 of the Hot 100, and collaborations with Saweetie (“Best Friend”) and Ariana Grande (the “34+35” remix) kept her at the top of pop until the June release of her current album, Planet Her, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and led to seven Grammy nods. Labelmate H.E.R. picked up eight, while Nigerian Afrobeats artist Wizkid had a crossover hit with “Essence” (featuring Tems) that topped R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay. The departure of A&R senior vp Tunji Balogun, who left to run Def Jam Recordings and was involved in RCA’s signing of Wizkid and also worked with Doja Cat, may ratchet up the competition in the coming years.
2022 momentum: For the first time in 10 years, RCA held the top four spots on Billboard’s Rhythmic Airplay chart in March with hits by Doja Cat, SZA, Chris Brown and Latto. Plus, Jazmine Sullivan, Doja Cat, H.E.R., SZA and Lucky Daye won Grammys.
11. Aaron Bay-Schuck
Co-chairman/CEO, Warner Records
Co-chairman/COO, Warner Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $578.06M
Includes revenue from: Rhino, Warner Nashville and Warner Music Latin America.
Market share: 6.16%
Dua Lipa put an end to the label’s slow year for top 10 Hot 100 hits when her smash “Levitating” became the No. 1 song on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart. Warner’s development of Saweetie also paid off with the No. 14 hit on that chart with the Doja Cat-assisted “Best Friend” and Grammy nominations for best new artist and best rap song. The hiring of veterans Karen Kwak and Steve “Steve-O” Carless to run the label’s A&R department portends a resurgence of chart-climbers.
2022 momentum: Signed breakout Afrobeats star Pheelz, who had a surprise hit with “Finesse” (featuring BNXN). Lipa’s “Levitating” received the 2022 Billboard Music Award for top radio song.
12. Sylvia Rhone
Chairman/CEO, Epic Records
Executive vp/head of A&R, Epic Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $254.2M
Market share: 2.38%
While established hitmaker Camila Cabello’s “Don’t Go Yet” peaked at No. 17 on the Pop Airplay chart, DJ Khaled scored his third No. 1 Billboard 200 album with Khaled Khaled and 21 Savage had three top five singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, including the No. 1 “my.life” with J. Cole and Morray. Three of Epic’s new artists also had a good year: A remix of rapper BIA’s “Whole Lotta Money” that added Nicki Minaj hit No. 6 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs; Giveon guested on Justin Bieber’s multiple Grammy-nominated track “Peaches” and counted 2.5 billion on-demand global streams for his own songs; and British pop singer Mimi Webb’s viral TikTok song, “Good Without,” led to a spot on the Top 40 Airplay chart.
2022 momentum: All 16 songs from the standard edition of Future’s new album, I Never Liked You, charted on the Billboard Hot 100 (dated May 14). Taking the No. 1 spot: “Wait for U,” featuring Drake and Tems. Epic is slated to release a new Travis Scott album, Utopia, later this year, which could gauge whether there will be any long-term fallout from the stampede that left 10 people dead at the rapper’s Astroworld Festival in Houston in November 2021.
13. Tunji Balogun
Chairman/CEO, Def Jam Recordings
GM, Def Jam Recordings
Estimated U.S. revenue: $203.32M
Market share: 2.25%
Last year Def Jam released big albums by Kanye West (Donda) and Justin Bieber (Justice) and underwent a major restructuring of the label that had been on hold since Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg departed in 2020 and Universal Music Group general counsel/executive vp of business affairs Jeff Harleston took over in the interim. Balogun was hired away from RCA, where he worked with the label’s roster of hitmakers; Farag was promoted to her current position; Dara Michelle and Noah Preston were named the new heads of marketing and A&R, respectively; and Snoop Dogg came on board as a creative executive and strategic consultant.
2022 momentum: Signed Muni Long, whose “Hrs & Hrs” was one of the breakout indie singles of 2021. The label’s international expansion continued in February when parent company UMG announced it was establishing the Def Jam India sublabel, which adds to efforts to capitalize on local hip-hop in Southeast Asia and Africa.
14. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter
Founder/chairman, Roc Nation
Vice chairman, Roc Nation
CEO, Roc Nation
Estimated U.S. revenue: $45.84M
Market share: 0.52%
Roc Nation and Jay-Z’s business clout and influence over a wide spectrum of entertainment, sports and media in 2021 outweighed its revenue and market share as a label. The company booked the Pepsi Super Bowl LV halftime show featuring The Weeknd (and scored an Emmy Award nomination for it), produced the 10th anniversary of the Made in America Festival — and don’t forget those Tiffany ads with Beyoncé and the Basquiat painting. That said, Roc Nation management helped DJ Khaled and Moneybagg Yo score No. 1 Billboard 200 albums while J. Cole topped the chart for its recorded-music division.
2022 momentum: The 2022 Super Bowl halftime show that Roc Nation put together starring a group of hip-hop heroes that included Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar drew 112.3 million viewers across television and streaming, according to NBC Universal, the most in five years.. Roc Nation also promoted Brett Yormark to COO of the company. He will continue to function as co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified, which offers infrastructure solutions for events, venues and brands. Before joining the company in 2019, Yormark was CEO of BSE Global, parent company of the Brooklyn Nets and their home arena, Barclays Center.
15. Ethiopia Habtemariam
Chairman/CEO, Motown Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $82.52M
Includes revenue from: Quality Control.
Market share: 0.90%
March 2021 signaled a sea change for Motown as it became a stand-alone label under the Universal Music Group umbrella and Habtemariam was named chairman/CEO. A new COO, Alison Finley, and marketing head, Brian Nolan, have followed. Thanks to its partnerships with Quality Control, Blacksmith Recording, Zero Fatigue and other boutique labels, Motown found success with releases by Vince Staples, Migos and the hit Lil Baby-Lil Durk collaboration album The Voice of the Heroes, which landed 16 tracks on the Hot 100 in its first week of release.
2022 momentum: The label signed a one-time album deal with Sean “Diddy” Combs to launch his R&B imprint, Love Records.
16. Scott Pascucci
Estimated U.S. revenue: $159.55M
Market share: 1.68%
Along with an executive shuffle that promoted Valentine to president, Concord extended its global distribution deal with Universal and began testing the market for a sale or refinancing in October that would likely top $4 billion based on Billboard estimates. As a label that deals largely in catalog music, none of Concord’s releases placed among the top 200 most consumed albums of 2021, according to Luminate, but it landed 13 — including albums by Billy Gibbons, Gov’t Mule, St. Vincent, Manchester Orchestra, Steve Perry and Rise Against — on Luminate’s top 100 “other” year-to-date chart, which tracks album sales. That’s more than any other independent label.
2022 momentum: Turned down a $5 billion buyout offer, according to Bloomberg. Expanded its international footprint by promoting Fred Gillham, who previously ran Concord’s U.K. business, to oversee all of Europe.
17. Afo Verde
Chairman/CEO, Latin-Iberia, Sony Music Entertainment
President, U.S. Latin, Sony Music Entertainment
Estimated U.S. revenue: $105.69M
Market share: 1.15%
Sony topped Billboard’s year-end Latin label charts without relying on reggaetón thanks to Maluma and breakout Colombian singer-songwriter Camilo, who was nominated for 10 Latin Grammy Awards in September, including album of the year for Mis Manos. Farruko’s “Pepas” topped nine Billboard song charts including Latin Airplay and Hot Latin Songs, and Rauw Alejandro’s “Todo de Ti” was No. 1 on Latin Airplay for two weeks, hit No. 3 on Hot Latin Songs and crossed over to the Hot 100. Sony is also home to Natti Natasha, Becky G and a cadre of up-and-coming young stars, including Nathy Peluso, Tini and Nicki Nicole.
2022 momentum: Acquired a stake in manager Walter Kolm’s fast-growing indie label, WK Records, in March and signed hot regional Mexican star Christian Nodal the same month. Sony’s Latin legacy artists — Shakira, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin — have released a steady stream of new music. Albums are also expected from stars Alejandro and Romeo Santos, among others.
18. Jesús López
Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Latino America & Iberian Peninsula, Universal Music Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $128.11M
Market share: 1.33%
UMG’s Latin division tops Sony’s, but, with the exception Karol G and J Balvin — who ranked at Nos. 3 and 5, respectively, on Billboard’s year-end Top Latin Artists chart — doesn’t boast a wide array of marquee acts. Following the departure of Universal Latino, Machete and Capitol managing director Alejandro Duque to Warner Music Latin America, where he is now CEO. Universal subsequently promoted veteran Angel Kaminsky, who played key roles in the development of Balvin, Karol G and Colombian singer-songwriter Sebastián Yatra, to president of Universal Music Latino.
2022 momentum: Karol G continues to be the dominant female artist on the Latin charts, replacing herself at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs in May — the first time a woman has done so since the chart launched in 1986. Yatra had a breakthrough 2021 that carried into 2022, when his song on the Encanto soundtrack, “Dos Oruguitas,” hit No. 36 and No. 2 on the Hot 100 and Hot Latin Songs, respectively.
19. Mike Dungan
Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Group Nashville
President, Universal Music Group Nashville
Estimated U.S. revenue: $181.84M
Market share: 2.04%
UMG Nashville claimed Billboard’s Top Country Albums Label honor for 2021 thanks to the performance of releases by label stalwarts Chris Stapleton, Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Eric Church and Luke Bryan, who logged his 25th Country Airplay No. 1. UMGN also partnered with Interscope to release and market Kacey Musgraves’ 2021 album, Star-Crossed, which helped it debut at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Top Country Albums. Despite the achievement, the Recording Academy deemed the album ineligible for the best country album category.
2022 momentum: Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard signed a solo deal with EMI Nashville, which falls under the UMGN banner, and is planning to release new music.
20. Randy Goodman
Chairman/CEO, Sony Music Nashville
Estimated U.S. revenue: $174.87M
Market share: 1.99%
Luke Combs continued to deliver in 2021: He was Billboard’s No. 2 top country artist and top male country artist of the year behind Morgan Wallen, as well as the all-genre No. 20 top streaming songs artist. And he took home the top prize at the 2021 Country Music Association Awards: entertainer of the year. Miranda Lambert won a Grammy for best country album, and the label won the most 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards, with five. The recognition bodes well for Sony Nashville’s head of A&R, Taylor Lindsey, who worked with Combs and Maren Morris early in their development at the label.
2022 momentum: SMN realigned and expanded its promotion teams — Arista Nashville, Columbia Nashville, RCA Nashville and SMN National Support — to include a broader artist development focus on a local and regional level. Combs scored his 13th Country Airplay No. 1, and Old Dominion won its fifth consecutive group of the year honor at the ACM Awards.
21. Richard Story
President, Commercial Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment
Estimated U.S. revenue: $176.77M
Market share: 1.91%
Under Story, CMG, which includes Sony’s catalog label, Legacy Records, and its SyncShop licensing department — the latter’s revenue is not counted in the label’s overall revenue estimate — posted a record-high market share for its sixth straight year. Legacy’s 2021 releases included the film and soundtrack to Bruce Springsteen’s vaunted 1979 No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden; Billy Joel’s The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1; Prince’s Welcome to America, through its partnership with the artist’s estate; expanded versions of The Jacksons’ Triumph and Victory albums; and a box set series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Philadelphia International Records.
2022 momentum: In February, Sony Legacy reissued 12 Prince albums that the late superstar recorded between his peak fame years of 1985 to 1993.
22. Bruce Resnikoff
President/CEO, Universal Music Enterprises
Estimated U.S. revenue: $58.06M
Market share: 0.63%
Universal Music Group’s catalog division closed 2021 with a “record-high catalog music share for the sixth consecutive year,” according to Resnikoff. Top performers included Chris Cornell’s posthumous album No One Sings Like You Anymore and the 50th-anniversary reissue editions of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Both albums were nominated for 2022 Grammys.
2022 momentum: Releases and rereleases included The Rolling Stones’ vaunted live show El Mocambo 1977, limited-edition half-speed master recordings of classic Who albums and the soundtrack to the Sheryl Crow documentary Sheryl.
23. Kevin Liles
Chairman/CEO, 300 Entertainment
Estimated U.S. revenue: $67.31M
Market share: 0.74%
Liles moved several levels up in the industry food chain when Warner Music Group acquired 300 — the label behind Megan Thee Stallion, Young Thug and Gunna — for $400 million in December and gave him the additional duties of chairman/CEO for Elektra Records.
2022 momentum: The future of Gunna — whose No. 1 Billboard 200 album DS4Ever was an early-2022 smash — Young Thug and the latter’s YSL imprint was thrown into question in May when the two artists were arrested in Atlanta and charged with racketeering.
24. Seth England
Partner/CEO, Big Loud
Partner/president, Big Loud
Partner/songwriter, Big Loud
Estimated U.S. revenue: $52.30M
Market share: 0.61%
Big Loud scored successes with Jake Owen, HARDY, MacKenzie Porter and Lily Rose, but the company’s megastar was Morgan Wallen. The outrage over a TMZ video that captured Wallen uttering a racial slur did not dampen the performance of his Dangerous: The Double Album, which was released in conjunction with Republic Records. (The revenue from the album is also counted as part of Republic’s total revenue on this ranking.) Dangerous spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — the first time since Whitney Houston’s 1987 Whitney — and ended the year as the top album on that chart.
2022 momentum: Wallen’s success carried over to this year when Dangerous spent a record-breaking 51st week on the Top Country Albums chart for the week of April 2, besting Luke Combs’ 50-week run with his 2017 album, This One’s for You, and Shania Twain’s 1997 release, Come on Over. And his single “Thought You Should Know” became his fifth Hot Country Songs No. 1 after debuting atop the chart on the May 21-dated list.
25. Kevin Gore
President of global catalog/president of arts music, Warner Music Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: N/A
Market share: N/A
Gore oversees WMG’s Rhino catalog division, which its parent company no longer breaks out on Luminate’s Connect Music measurement platform, making it virtually impossible to determine the legacy and reissue imprint’s market share and total revenue. That said, Gore made some high-profile deals in 2021, including global partnerships with David Bowie’s estate and Madonna for their catalogs. Its 40-plus-volume Grateful Dead live album series, Dave’s Picks, continues to rack up significant sales with each new release.
2022 momentum: The division celebrated the 50th anniversary of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and the 25th anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death with special rereleases.
26. Justin Eshak
Co-CEOs, Island Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $151.75M
Market share: 1.63%
Eshak and Majid took over the label in January after departing Columbia’s A&R department, and they have some work to do. In 2021, two of Island’s marquee artists, Shawn Mendes and Demi Lovato, did not crack the top 40 of the Hot 100 with their respective singles “Summer of Love,” and “Dancing with the Devil” and “Met Him Last Night” (featuring Ariana Grande).
2022 momentum: Made early headway by signing pop artist Lauren Spencer Smith, whose “Fingers Crossed” was a viral hit this year, and rapper SleazyWorld Go, whose “Sleazy Flow” track also connected with listeners.
27. Martin Mills
Founder/chairman, Beggars Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $51.59M
Market share: 0.49%
After a year during which Beggars-owned labels 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, XL Recordings and Young put out some of indie music’s most critically lauded releases, including Dry Cleaning’s New Long Leg, Mustafa’s When Smoke Rises, black midi’s Cavalcade and Snail Mail’s Valentine, Mills installed new blood at the top, promoting 4AD U.S. label manager Nabil Ayers and Beggars head of product management Claire Taylor to U.S. president and U.S. GM, respectively, of the indie-label group.
2022 momentum: Beefed up its streaming division by hiring former FUGA executive Matthew Gawrych as U.S. streaming director and promoting Brandon Becker to global head of streaming and Shaun Delaney to senior streaming lead.
28. John Esposito
Chairman/CEO, Warner Music Nashville
Estimated U.S. revenue: $81.93M
Estimated market share: 0.93%
WMN broke two new artists in 2021: Gabby Barrett and Cody Johnson. Barrett topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart with “The Good Ones,” making her the first woman to land two career-starting No. 1s on the chart since Kelsea Ballerini did in 2015. (Barrett’s “I Hope” topped the chart in 2020.) And former rodeo rider turned singer-songwriter Johnson’s “’Til You Can’t” topped Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay this year after a long climb that began in 2021. WMN also celebrated 20 years of having Blake Shelton on its roster.
2022 momentum: Confirming months of speculation, Esposito will move to chairman emeritus status in early 2023, paving the way for executive vp of A&R Cris Lacy and executive vp/GM Ben Kline to take over day-to-day duties running the label.
29. Noah Assad
Founder/CEO, Rimas Entertainment
Estimated revenue: $25.5M
Estimated market share: 0.28%
Rimas’ crown jewel is Bad Bunny, the global music and media superstar, who’s on the leading edge of Latin music’s crossover appeal and whose influence over the music industry far outweighs his label’s market share. He was Spotify’s most streamed artist globally in 2020 and 2021, has racked up billions of video views on YouTube and has become a popular figure at WWE wrestling events. Rimas’ roster, which is distributed by The Orchard, includes Arcángel; Tommy Torres; newcomer Eladio Carrión, whose new album debuted at No. 2 on Top Latin Albums in December; and veteran reggaetonero Miky Woodz.
2022 momentum: Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti broke Spotify’s record for most streams in a single day and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, only the second all-Spanish album to take the top slot (his El Último Tour del Mundo was the first). According to Luminate data, the week ending May 12 was the Latin genre’s highest streaming week with over 1.8 billion weekly on-demand audio streams, and Bad Bunny’s new album accounted for 18% of them.
30. Todd Moscowitz
Founder/CEO, Alamo Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $70.11M
Market share: 0.77%
Moscowitz, who co-founded 300 Entertainment before striking out on his own with Alamo in 2016, had a banner 2021. Sony Music acquired a reported 75% stake in the label, and albums by Alamo artists Rod Wave (SoulFly) and Lil Durk (his The Voice of the Heroes collaboration with Lil Baby) topped the Billboard 200. Both artists also finished in the top 10 of total on-demand video streams for the year.
2022 momentum: Moscowitz can take some credit for reenergizing the career of Lil Durk, whose 7220 album knocked the Encanto soundtrack from the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200.
31. Scott Borchetta
Founder/president/CEO, Big Machine Label Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $84.81M
Market share: 0.96%
In addition to No. 1 country hits from Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line and Brett Young, Big Machine’s breakout star last year was Carly Pearce, whose critically acclaimed album, 29: Written in Stone, reached the top 10 of the Top Country Albums chart, and who was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and named female vocalist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards in November.
2022 momentum: In May, BMLG and Blac Noize! Recordings announced a joint venture to sign and promote hip-hop and R&B acts. Their first release: Hitkidd and Glorilla’s “F.N.F. (Let’s Go).”
32. Mike Easterlin
Co-presidents, Elektra Music Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $160.14M
Market share: 1.71%
Label star Brandi Carlile picked up five Grammy nominations and breakthrough rapper Masked Wolf broke the 1 billion global streams barrier, but the big news was Warner Music Group’s acquisition of 300 Entertainment and its decision to put Kevin Liles in charge of Elektra.
33. Ken Bunt
President, Disney Music Group
Estimated U.S. revenue: $130.78M
Market share: 1.40%
The label’s soundtrack for Encanto became a smash late-2021 hit that has topped the Billboard 200 for three nonconsecutive weeks in 2021. The company also launched a SiriusXM partnership for Disney Hits.
2022 momentum: Encanto’s success continued well into the first quarter. The soundtrack eventually spent nine nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — joining Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album as the only two albums to reach that milestone in the last five years (Wallen ultimately spent 10 weeks at No. 1). There’s more: All songs on the Encanto soundtrack charted on the Hot 100, with “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” spending five weeks at No. 1. These combined successes propelled Disney into the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 publishers ranking for the first quarter.
34. Alejandro Duque
President, Warner Music Latin America
Estimated U.S. revenue: $26.50M
Estimated market share: 0.29%
Warner Music Group is betting on Duque, who, at 39, is the youngest head of a multinational Latin music company, to make the label more competitive with its rivals Sony and Universal, where he last worked as managing director. Wins include the signing of emerging acts like Colombia’s Blessd and sierreño singer-songwriter DannyLux, as well as a partnership with urban artist development venture Rapetón Approved.
2022 momentum: The label, in partnership with Grand Move Records, signed Tiago PZK, whose fusion of R&B, reggaetón and alternative rock led to five Billboard Global 200 hits in 2021.
35. Ronald “Slim” Williams
Bryan “Birdman” Williams
Co-founders/co-CEOs, Cash Money Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $69.01M
Market share: 0.79%
2022 momentum: In April, the RIAA certified two singles that Minaj recorded while at the label — “Megatron” (2019) and “Yikes” (2020) — both gold and platinum.
36. David Massey
President/CEO, Arista Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $27.74M
Market share: 0.31%
The label upped its cred with Italian rockers Måneskin, whose platinum cover of The Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” logged 11 weeks atop Alternative Airplay, the most of any song in 2021, and scored a coveted spot on Saturday Night Live in January.
2022 momentum: Arista/Disruptor artist Emmy Meli, whose single “I Am Woman” became a TikTok sensation and a Billboard Hot 100 hit, is readying a debut EP.
37. Steven Victor
Founder/CEO, Victor Victor Worldwide
Estimated U.S. revenue: $20.7M
Estimated market share: 0.28%
The release of two posthumous Pop Smoke albums in 2020 (Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon) and 2021 (Faith) led to back-to-back Billboard 200 No. 1s, with the former album named Top Billboard 200 Album at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards.
2022 momentum: Pusha T’s It’s Almost Dry debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — the rapper’s first time atop the chart — and landed seven of the album’s tracks on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
38. Chris Taylor
Estimated U.S. revenue: $17M
Market share: 0.20%
MNRK became the new name of eOne Music after its April 2021 acquisition by investment management company Blackstone in a deal that valued the label and digital indie distributor at $385 million. Releases from Cypress Hill, Juicy J and Pop Evil were among its big titles. If its indie distribution operation is included, MNRK had an overall estimated $41 million in U.S. revenue last year.
2022 momentum: Sold Death Row Records — which Billboard estimates generated $10 million in U.S. revenue in 2021 — to Snoop Dogg in February. Expecting album releases from Blueface, RZA, Wu Tang, Ace Frehley and DJ Drama.
39. Barry Weiss
Estimated U.S. revenue: $16M
Estimated market share: 0.16%
Longtime major-label executive Weiss brought RECORDS to Sony as a joint venture in 2017 (where it’s distributed through Columbia) and has built success by signing such established acts as Nelly and breaking artists like Lennon Stella. RECORDS’ biggest success was 24kGoldn’s “Mood” (featuring iann dior), which rode a mix of TikTok virality and radio airplay to reach the top of the Hot 100 in late 2020 and early 2021. The label also helped Noah Cyrus to a best new artist Grammy nomination in 2021.
2022 momentum: Cyrus’ debut album, The Hardest Part, is slated for the summer.
40. Daniel Glass
Founder/CEO, Glassnote Records
Estimated U.S. revenue: $9.0M
Market share: 0.01%
Glass’s standing and influence as an industry éminence grise and a master marketer of such indie finds as Aurora, Chvrches, Jade Bird, Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club and Hamilton Leithauser — especially during the pandemic — far outweigh the size of his label. (Glass says Billboard’s revenue estimate is incorrect.)
2022 momentum: Signed hard-touring Boston funk-soul-jazz band Ripe.
Market-share percentage is from Luminate Connect for the year ending Dec. 30, 2021, except where noted as estimated. Estimated label revenue is based on U.S. data using the unit-count option — CD and vinyl scans as reported from stores, and streams reported by digital services — for those labels tracked on Connect’s market-share page for the same period. The revenue estimates reflect how labels present themselves to the industry through Connect, not necessarily how they track revenue internally. Each label estimate also uses a multiplier to extrapolate for formats like music videos and income not counted in Connect’s market share, but those estimates may not accurately reflect labels’ synchronization, merchandise, licensing and direct-to-consumer sales. Estimates also do not include revenue that the labels derive from territories outside the United States.
All data uses blended rates — physical based on RIAA 2021 numbers; streaming based on industry sources — so individual labels might have different streaming or physical blended wholesale rates than the ones used (e.g., for vinyl). As a result, labels with the same percentage of market share might have different revenue totals if one of the labels is more heavily invested in vinyl or has a higher per stream rate from a digital service provider. For a more detailed explanation of how revenue and market share were determined, contact Ed Christman (email@example.com). Labels that are ranked by factors other than revenue and market share were determined by a consensus of Billboard editors.
Additional reporting by Leila Cobo, Frank DiGiacomo, Rob Levine, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Dan Rys and Colin Stutz.