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MARKETSHARE UPDATE: AT THE HALF

UMG's Still Killing It, But a WMG/BMG Combination Looks Huge

George W. Bush goes, “Make the pie higher.” Well, God knows the pie ain’t getting any bigger (so we might as well be high), but that doesn’t mean we don’t still care who’s got the biggest slices o’ whatever pie there is, now does it? Of course not.

As we slide on down to the halfway point for the year, Universal Music Group unsurprisingly maintains a huge lead in current-release marketshare, as measured from the beginning of the year through presstime. While UMG’s 29.8% figure has slipped five-tenths of a point since we last checked six weeks ago, it beats the same period last year by three tenths and is still nearly 13 points ahead of #2 Warner Music Group, so go figure. UMG continues to by buoyed by 50 Cent (over 5 million since Feb. 6), Eminem and Nelly.

The aforementioned WMG digs in at #2 with a 17% share, up over two points from last year and more than a point from six weeks ago. On a serious roll lately, WMG’s top sellers for the year continue to be Linkin Park, Kid Rock, Sean Paul and Cher.

At #3 is BMG at 15.9%, down a point and a half from last year, but up two-tenths since six weeks ago. BMG has also turned up the heat in recent months, with million-sellers from R. Kelly (1.8 million since Feb. 18), Avril Lavigne, Evanescence,and Kelly Clarkson.

Sony stays the course at #4 with 13.5%, despite dropping a point and a half since last year, nearly a point of which came off in the last six weeks as the company underwent major restructuring. Sony top sellers continue to be Dixie Chicks, Chicago, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez and Good Charlotte.

Completing a Big Five lineup that finds rankings unchanged from six weeks ago is EMI, which shares the most-improved prize with WMG for beating its year-ago number by over two points. At 9.8%, EMI has dipped two-tenths compared to six weeks ago, but who’s counting? Oh yeah—we are. The inimitable Norah Jones (3.6 million this year), Now 12 and Coldplay lead the resurgence.

Meanwhile, we contemplate a very major “what if” that’s been on many a mind lately: If a WMG-BMG merger materializes, how big could it be? If WMG and BMG were merged today, the combined company would have a staggering 2003 current-release marketshare of 32.9%, putting it 3.1 points ahead of UMG. That’s a third of the market in a field of four. Yow.

On the label side, Interscope Geffen A&M continues to dominate, leading by four points, thanks to 50 Cent. Warner Bros., meanwhile, edges out #3 Epic, #4 Island Def Jam and #5 Columbia to snare #2 on the strength of Linkin Park, Cher, Josh Groban and Fleetwood Mac. Below that, it’s #6 Atlantic (up 26% over last year), #7 Universal (+18%), #8 RCA/J (+50%) and #9 Capitol (+68%!!), followed by #10 Arista.

MUSIC GROUPS (%)
Group             Current   Year Ago       +/–

1.  UMG             29.8         29.5        + 0.3
2.  WMG            17.0         14.9        + 2.1
3.  BMG             15.9         17.4        – 1.5
4.  SONY           13.5         15.0        – 1.5
5.  EMI                  9.8          7.7         + 2.1

TOP 10 LABELS (%)
Label                 Current    Year Ago
      +/–
1. IGA                    10.4         9.0         + 1.4
2. Warner Bros.     6.4         6.2         + 0.2
3. Epic                     6.3         6.9         – 0.6
4. IDJ                       5.9         9.2         – 3.3
5. Columbia           5.8         6.8         – 1.0
6. Atlantic                4.8         3.8         + 1.0
7. Universal            4.6         3.9         + 0.7
8. RCA/J                  3.9          2.6*      + 1.3
9. Capitol                3.2          1.9        + 1.3
10. Arista                 2.9          4.2     ­­­­­­­­   – 1.3

*Combined, pre-merger

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