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MIDYEAR MARKETSHARE


The winds of change are sweeping across the U.S. music industry. In the previous decade, Morgan Wallen, who authored the biggest albums of 2021 and ’23, and last year’s champ, Bad Bunny, would’ve been considered outliers; at the midpoint of 2023, they’re the faces of American mainstream music, along with force of nature Taylor Swift.

The two next-gen megastars have a great deal in common: both were signed to visionary-led indie labels—Seth England’s Big Loud and Noah Assad’s Rimas, respectively—and both catapulted to massive success after linking their careers with forward-thinking, extremely potent frontline operations in Monte Lipman’s Republic and Brad Navin’s distribbery The Orchard.

In essence, Wallen and Bunny are the standard-bearers of the vibrant modern-day country and Latin sectors, which are experiencing explosive growth in a rapidly morphing U.S. market, thanks primarily to streaming, which makes up 75% of it. Each genre now represents 7% of the total market, and those in the know expect those percentages to further increase in the coming months. There’s something happening here, and what it means is becoming abundantly clear.

Republic, which rocketed to #1 in current share late last year behind a hot streak that still shows no signs of cooling off, now sits at 12.6%, nearly four points above #2 The Orchard. Wallen has three albums in the YTD Top 50, including #1 One Thing at a Time and #4 Dangerous, while the resilient Swift, who unfailingly knows which way the wind blows and adjusts accordingly, has seven entries, including #3 Midnights.

As a directly signed act, Swift is in the minority among Republic’s biggest stars, which speaks to Lipman’s status as the quintessential dealmaker/trailblazer of the modern era, with his potent assortment of JVs and other sorts of pacts bringing to the roster XO’s The Weekend (with three Top 50 titles), OVO’s Drake (also three), Boominati’s Metro Boomin (#5) and BIGHIT K-popsters TOMORROW X TOGETHER (#25). The abovementioned acts, Big Loud/Mercury’s Wallen, Island’s Elton John (#19) and Mercury’s Post Malone (#32), collectively occupy 17 Top 50 slots.

Team Lipman has now risen to a tenth of a point below the overall leader, John Janick’s Interscope Geffen A&M, which is at 9.5%, with the eagerly anticipated sophomore album from Olivia Rodrigo on deck.

With 40.5%, UMG is leading the current country marketshare competition, with Wallen responsible for Republic’s industry-leading 25%, putting it in a near deadlock with Sony as a whole (25.2). Cindy Mabe’s UMG Nashville has a 9.6, while Scott Borchetta’s Uni-distribbed Big Machine Label Group contributes 3.2.

Randy Goodman’s Sony Nashville, with 16%, makes up the lion’s share of the parent company’s number, while River House/Columbia Nashville’s Luke Combs has no less than four Top 50 albums YTD. Looking ahead, Ron Perry’s Columbia and SMN have jointly signed up-and-comer Megan Moroney in a 50-50 deal.

Warner Nashville accounts for 15% of Warner’s 24. At Ben Kline and Cris Lacy’s Warner Nashville, Bailey Zimmerman has the biggest album of the year, with north of 1m to date in total activity. The deal for #8 Zach Bryan was done at Warner without the involvement of the Nashville division—or much support from Country radio, which is taking a backseat to the DSPs in terms of breaking talent, as country acts charge into the upper reaches of the streaming charts. At presstime, tellingly, Wallen’s “Last Night” and Combs’ “Fast Car” hold the #1 and 2 positions on the Bible’s Hot 100.

Along with Wallen, Big Loud also has genre-blurring, STEM-distribbed indie act HARDY at #36 YTD), while the upwardly mobile Jelly Roll and Lainey Wilson are Jon Loba’s latest Broken Bow thoroughbreds.

By contrast, Sony’s current Latin share is a towering 51%, with The Orchard at 26% and Afo Verde’s Sony Latin at 20. The Orchard, which also has Double P/Prajin’s música Mexicana trailblazer Peso Pluma, has supersized Sony’s slice of the pie.

UMG’s 25% share is mostly made up by Jesús López’s UMLE with 15%. Lipman recently checked Latin music off his wish list with the signing of Brazilian powerhouse Anitta, and Janick snagged Sony Latin exec Nir Seroussi, which has resulted in the establishment of a Miami-based IGA Latin division and the inking of Colombian star Karol G.

Warner Latina’s current share is up to 10% since Alejandro Duque took charge.

K-pop pushed open the door for outliers during the last decade and, thanks primarily to their substantial gains in streaming, Latin and country are knocking it off its hinges in 2023. Will hip-hop, which has slipped to 25% of the market, mount a counterattack, or are we entering a new normal? ¿Quién sabe lo que pasará mañana?

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