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Through Christmas week (12/26), UMG claimed 32.1% of the market for current albums, 2.2 points ahead of SBMG, whose marketshare stood at 29.9%. Warner Music Group had a 13.0% share, while EMI brought up the rear with 9.3%.
UMG EDGES SBMG; COLUMBIA, INTERSCOPE TOP 2004 MARKETSHARE TALLY
UMG’s Still Dominant, but SBMG’s Close Behind; Columbia, Interscope Take Top Label Honors
At the close of 2004, Universal Music Group continued to dominate the major music-group landscape with the biggest slice of the recorded-music pie, but Sony BMG is now within striking distance in the two-tiered Big Four world.

Through Christmas week (12/26), UMG claimed 32.1% of the market for current albums, 2.2 points ahead of SBMG, whose marketshare stood at 29.9%. Warner Music Group had a 13.0% share, while EMI brought up the rear with 9.3%.

Including catalog, the numbers tightened some at the top: UMG owned 29.5%, trailed by SBMG with 28.5%—a mere one-point difference. Showing the strength of its catalog, WMG’s marketshare in the overall category was 14.7%, while EMI’s was 9.9%.

The major gap between the UMG-SBMG upper marketshare tier and the WMG-EMI lower tier begs some recent speculation: If, as many predict, WMG soon goes public, some insiders say another attempt at a merger with EMI is a likely scenario.

If WMG and EMI got together today, they would command 22.3% of the market for current albums. That’s still 7.6 points behind SBMG and 9.8 behind UMG. Including catalog, a combined WMG-EMI would have a 24.6% share, narrowing the gap to 3.9 points behind SBMG and 4.9 behind UMG.

Compared to 2003 year-end figures, UMG increased its current-album share by 1.9 and its overall share by 1.5 in 2004; SBMG dipped by 1.1 current points and .7 overall (theoretically, since the merged group didn’t exist a year ago); WMG slipped 2.5 current points and 1.73 overall; and EMI increased its share this year by .1 of a current point and .3 overall.

SBMG had the top-selling album of the year with Usher’s Confessions (LaFace/ZLG), which moved 7.9 million units through Christmas week and was a lock for 8 million by the year’s final tally. EMI’s best seller was Norah JonesFeels Like Home (Blue Note), which sold 3.8 million through Christmas, making it the #2 album of the year. UMG’s top album was the #3 album of the year, Eminem’s Encore (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope), at 3.3 million, while WMG’s best was Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying (Curb), #6 for the year at 2.7 million.

At the label level, Interscope/A&M/DreamWorks led in current album marketshare, sporting 7.2%—a full point ahead of #2 Columbia at 6.2%—boosted by albums from Eminem, U2, D12 and Lloyd Banks, as well as Tupac and Gwen Stefani in the label’s red-hot Q4. After Interscope and Columbia, it was a surprisingly strong Warner Bros. in third (thanks to Josh Groban, Big & Rich, Green Day and Linkin Park/Jay-Z), followed by Island Def Jam’s impressive 5.9%, and, in order, the RCA Group, Universal, the Zomba Group, Epic, Atlantic and Capitol.

Columbia once again ruled the roost in the overall albums category with a 6.7% share, but by a surprisingly slim margin this time: Second-place Warner Bros. managed 6.4% thanks to its mighty catalog, bringing it within just .3 of a point of tying for first. After Columbia and Warner Bros., it was IAD, IDJ, the RCA Group, Atlantic, Epic Universal Capitol and the Zomba Group.

2004 MARKETSHARE (through Christmas week)

CURRENT ALBUMS
UMG: 32.1
SBMG: 29.9
WMG: 13.0
EMI: 9.3

Interscope/A&M/DreamWorks: 7.2
Columbia: 6.2
Warner Bros: 5.9
Island Def Jam: 5.9
RCA Group: 5.7
Universal: 5.4
Zomba Group: 5.2
Epic: 4.5
Atlantic: 4.4
Capitol: 3.5

OVERALL ALBUMS (including catalog)
UMG: 29.5
SBMG: 28.5
WMG: 14.7
EMI: 9.9

Columbia: 6.7
Warner Bros: 6.4
Interscope/A&M/DreamWorks: 5.7
Island Def Jam: 5.6
RCA Group: 5.1
Atlantic: 4.9
Epic: 4.8
Universal: 4.8
Capitol: 4.1
Zomba: 4.0

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