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RATING THE BRITS

Ferdy Unger-Hamilton is enjoying a prime debut year as head of Sony label Columbia in the U.K. with four #1 albums, half of which were debuts, and two #1 singles under his belt so far. Which got us thinking, how does that compare with the label’s track record? And how are the new leaders of the Universal label he left behind, Polydor, faring?

Before feathers get ruffled, measuring success through #1s alone a perfect picture does not create. So, please, take the following with a pinch of salt and a shot of tequila. 

Last year, Columbia had two #1 albums out of the 37 that hit the top from Kings of Leon and Robbie Williams. Now that Unger-Hamilton is bedded in, the label has two #1 singles out of a possible nine thanks to Harry Styles and Calvin Harris, and has already beaten its 2016 albums record by two with Rag’n’Bone ManKasabian, Styles and Arcade Fire. There’s been 16 #1 albums in the U.K. so far in 2017, and Q4 is still to come. For context, the flagship British acts broken during Columbia’s previous five-year leadership, Mark Terry and Alison Donald, were George Ezra, Calvin Harris, Rita OraMark Ronson and Tom Odell

Over at Universal U.K. label Polydor, Unger-Hamilton spent eight years enjoying success with Ellie GouldingTake That, The 1975Years & YearsLana Del ReyHaim and Michael Kiwanuka. Its new leaders, Ben Mortimer and Tom March, were appointed co-Presidents in May last year. In 2016, a #1 album with The 1975 arrived in March, another with Michael Kiwanuka in July and The Rolling Stones in December. This year, the label has enjoyed 2017’s smash single “Despacito,” which has stayed at the top in Blighty for 11 non-consecutive weeks, as well as #1 albums with Elbow, Pete Tong, Lana Del Rey and the La La Land soundtrack. 

If we’re talking all albums AES marketshare, both labels have markedly improved the position from which they ended 2016. Columbia is up nearly 2% to 6.1% in H1 2017 from its year-end figure of 4.2%. Polydor, meanwhile, is up 1.2% to 7.5% on last year’s annual total of 6.3%. 

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