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(NEARLY) YEAR-END MARKETSHARE


UMG
didn’t just overwhelm the competition in 2018, Sir Lucian Grainge’s legions dominated to a historic degree. In picking up half a percentage point in both total activity and audio streams since the start of Q4, Uni has come tantalizingly close to slicing off nearly 40% of the marketshare pie in each metric—which would be an unparalleled achievement in U.S. industry annals. These gains are the result of the consistent heat being generated by Monte Lipman’s Republic, John Janick’s Interscope Geffen A&M and Steve Barnett’s Capitol Music Group, each of which has experienced sizable marketshare gains. How gigantic will UMG’s valuation be if Vivendi pushes the button on selling a stake in the company?

Republic’s yearlong effort to overtake Atlantic fell short, as Team Lipman traded baskets with Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald’s outfit through Q4, despite the releases of Ariana Grande’s artistic breakthrough, Sweetener (#18)  and Lil Wayne’s long-awaited Tha Carter V (#17). Those two near-million-sellers maintained the momentum generated by Drake and Post Malone’s scoreboard-lighting smashes, the #1 and 2 albums of 2018, along with strong sellers from YMCMB’s Nicki Minaj (#21), Island’s Shawn Mendes (#34) and, of course, Taylor Swift’s 2017 release, reputation (#20), her final album for Big Machine. Altogether, Republic landed an industry-high 11 albums in the 2018 Top 50, one more than Atlantic.

Both labels continued to reap the rewards of their industry-pacing commitments to a radically changing marketplace, though Atlantic, which broke new-model diva Cardi B, whose Invasion of Privacy is #4, owes much of its wire-to-wire win, ironically enough, to the righteously old-school soundtrack to 2017 movie musical The Greatest Showman (#3) and to a trio of oldies, relatively speaking: Ed Sheeran’s Divide (#9, March 2017), Bruno Mars24K Gold (#28, November 2016) and Hamilton (#26, September 2015). Now, that’s longevity. 

IGA, meanwhile, has crossed the 9% threshold, finishing the year at a rock-solid #3 behind a 20% uptick in marketshare. Janick’s label has seven Top 25 albums, more than any of its rivals, led by the Kendrick Lamar-curated Black Panther soundtrack at #8, with J. Cole #11, Imagine Dragons #12, Eminem #13, Juice WRLD #14, and Kendrick’s D.A.M.N. #15, while A Star Is Born is #24, to which we’ll affix a bullet. Maroon 5 (#29) and Rich the Kid (#43) bring Interscope’s Top 50 tally to nine.

CMG—which rolled a pair of 7.6s resulting from a 25% jump in share—benefited greatly from the addition of Coach K and Pee’s blazing-hot Quality Control to Ethiopia Habtemariam’s Motown, with #6 Migos and #33 Lil Baby, as well as Jacqueline Saturn’s humming Caroline, with #7 XXXTentacion and #47 NF. It’s readily apparent that Barnett’s multi-pronged approach is paying off big time.

At Rob Stringer’s Sony Music, Ron Perry spent the year rebuilding Columbia with the aim of bringing the label’s frontline offerings into the streaming age. Peter Edge’s RCA managed to hold serve during an off-cycle year, with Justin Timberlake (#31) joining 2017 holdovers Khalid (#22), SZA (#36), G-Eazy (#41) and Chris Brown (#44) in the Top 50. Sylvia Rhone-led Epic fought over its weight, paced by Travis Scott’s #5 finisher, ASTROWORLD, while Camila Cabello’s self-titled debut album landed at #19 to become the second-biggest pop title released this year, just 9k total units behind Ariana.

Max Lousada is entitled to a feel-good moment at the conclusion of his first year as WMG’s recorded-music chief, as his revamping of long-moribund Warner Bros/Reprise has resulted in a  #6 finish with a 6% total-activity share. Under Chairman/COO Tom Corson, the Bunny broke Dua Lipa (#27), while establishing Bebe Rexha (#50). With Chairman/CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck now on board, the future looks brighter than it has since the glory days of Mo & Lenny came to and end a quarter-century ago.

Further down the standings, Paul Rosenberg’s Def Jam (biggest album: Kanye West’s Ye at #46), Randy Goodman’s Sony Nashville (which broke #16 Luke Combs and #32 Kane Brown) and Mike Dungan’s UMG Nashville (with Chris Stapleton’s 2015 breakthrough Traveller at #37) are in a virtual three-way tie in total-activity share.

Looking ahead, IGA has a strong shot to wrest the top spot in the early going of 2019, thanks to a batch of hot carryover albums.

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