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Republic Rules With Taylor Swift

Halfway through 2024, it’s once again Taylor Swift’s world, and we’re all just living in it. At the midway point of the year, her Tortured Poets Department album is the biggest release of 2024 so far by a huge margin, having spent nine of the 13 weeks of the second quarter atop the Billboard 200. That helped her label, Republic Records, best the entire Warner Music Group in current market share for the year through June 27, contributing to Republic’s 15.72% mark — by far the best among individual labels.

However, Swift is far from the only factor. Republic’s market share also includes Mercury Records, Big Loud Records and Island Records (as well as indie distributor Imperial and Cash Money), and each of those labels is also on fire in the first half: Mercury’s Post Malone has collaborated with Swift, Beyoncé, Blake Shelton and Big Loud’s Morgan Wallen on big singles (the latter of which, “I Had Some Help,” spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100), while Island’s Sabrina Carpenter has dominated the singles charts of late and the same label’s Chappell Roan has emerged as one of the artist stories of the year. Each of the three labels, if broken out on their own, would have made the top 15 of the midyear current market share chart, while Island in particular logged a midyear mark (1.29%) that was more than double its share at the same point last year, and represents its highest midpoint stake since 2018.

That surge from Republic, which is up more than 3% from the 12.42% current share it posted midway through 2023, helped boost the Universal Music Group’s industry-leading current market share up to 36.37% at the halfway mark, up from the 34.48% it had the same period last year. In turn, Sony Music Entertainment’s current share came in at 26.07%, down from 27.54% halfway through 2023; while the Warner Music Group’s 15.68% dipped from the 17.26% it enjoyed midway through last year. The indie sector, by distribution ownership, grew more than a percentage point to 21.88%, up from 20.72%. By label ownership, the indie community remained the biggest sector of the business, with a 39.12% current share and a 37.35% overall share, both of which are slightly down year over year but relatively static.

Among individual labels, beyond Republic, Interscope Geffen A&M (whose market share also includes Verve Label Group) also had a strong quarter. The label came in at 9.51% in current share, also up a large margin from the 8.08% it posted halfway through 2023, with Billie Eilish’s Hit Me Hard And Soft leading the way. Taking into account the realignment of UMG’s label structure under the Interscope Capitol Labels Group on the West Coast, within which Capitol now reports up to ICLG chief John Janick, and Republic Recording Company on the East Coast, which includes Def Jam among the additional labels that report in to Monte Lipman, ICLG’s current market share would come in at 13.54% halfway through the year, with Republic Recording Company at 16.36%.

Outside those two labels, Warner Records — which includes Warner Latin, catalog label Rhino and some share from Warner Nashville — has continued its hot streak from the first quarter, as singles by Benson Boone (“Beautiful Things”), Teddy Swims (“Lose Control”) and Zach Bryan (last year’s “I Remember Everything” with Kacey Musgraves) remain among the biggest songs of 2024. Notably, Warner’s 6.30% current share — which keeps it in third place among labels — comes even before the impact of Bryan’s latest album, The Great American Bar Scene, given that it was released after the half-year tracking period. That’s easily Warner’s best midyear mark in years and an improvement over 2023’s 5.62%, when it ranked fifth.

Coming in fourth is Atlantic, at a 5.24% current share, which is both down significantly from the 7.34% it posted halfway through 2023 and up slightly from the 5.14% current share it had in the first quarter, as Jack Harlow’s former No. 1 “Lovin On Me” remains among the top songs of the year. (Atlantic’s share includes the 300 Elektra Music Group.) Fifth place, with a 4.59% current share, belongs to RCA Records, representing a dip in share from last year’s 4.98% midyear mark but a rise in position, as it came in seventh at this point last year. 

In sixth, Columbia’s current share has improved, up to 4.35% from 3.71% in Q1, as Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter and Hozier’s No. 1 single “Too Sweet” factors in, though it’s still down from the 5.16% it held midway through last year. (Columbia’s share includes some labels from indie distributor RED.) Capitol Music Group, meanwhile — which includes Virgin Music, Motown/Quality Control, Capitol Christian, Blue Note and Astralwerks in its share — has dropped into seventh place with a 4.03% current share, down from its 6.00% 2023 mark and the 4.71% it posted in the first quarter of 2024.

A trio of Sony labels round out the top 10, though in a different order than they did in the same period of 2023. In eighth, Epic Records has capitalized on a slew of big hip-hop albums in the first half of the year from 21 Savage, Future and Metro Boomin to boost its current share to 2.78%, up significantly from the 1.82% share it held last year when it sat in 10th. Also pushing higher is Sony Latin, which came in ninth at 2.17%, up from 1.99% last year. It comes in ahead of Sony Nashville, which dropped from a 2.55% share halfway through 2023 to a 1.96% share at the midpoint of 2024.

Another big climber at the year’s midway point is Alamo, which is up to 1.78% so far this year, good for 11th and a jump from the 0.96% current share it held this time last year. (Alamo also last year launched indie distributor Santa Anna, which inked a deal with Drake’s OVO Sound label in January.) Universal’s Nashville (1.35%) and Latin (1.12%) follow in 12th and 13th, respectively, while BMG (0.93%) and Concord (0.75%) — the latter of which scored a big hit with the Pulse Music-released “Million Dollar Baby” by Tommy Richman — round out the top 15 among current market share.

In overall market share — which combines current releases (within the past 18 months) with catalog — UMG increased its lead at the top, to 38.52% over last year’s 37.98%, while Sony (27.21%) and WMG (18.22%) both dipped slightly, and the indie community by distribution ownership inched upward, to 16.05% from last year’s 15.93%.

Among the individual labels, the race is much tighter at the top in overall share, with Republic’s 10.61% beating out Interscope’s 9.88%, though both saw their share increase year over year. (The score for the UMG umbrella groups in terms of overall share: ICLG at 15.78% and Republic Recording Company at 12.45%.) Below them, Atlantic jumps to third with a 7.61% mark, leapfrogging Warner Records’ 6.74%, while the deep catalogs of Capitol (in fifth) and Columbia (in sixth) allowed their shares rise to a virtual tie at 5.90%, with Capitol edging out Columbia by five ten-thousandths of a point. RCA (5.05%), Epic (2.75%), Sony Nashville (2.02%) and UMG Nashville (1.86%) round out the top 10.

By catalog share, both UMG (39.25%) and Sony (27.60%) grew year over year, while Warner (19.07%) and the indies (14.08% by distribution ownership) both dipped slightly. Among the individual labels, Interscope takes the top slot, coming in at 10.00% even, ahead of Republic’s 8.88%, with both up slightly over their prior-year marks. Republic barely rises above Atlantic, which drops to No. 3 with an 8.41% share, while Warner Records (6.88%), Capitol Music Group (6.53%) and Columbia Records (6.42%) are closely bunched together behind, with Warner jumping past Capitol year over year. RCA comes in a solid seventh with a 5.21% share, while Epic (2.75%), Def Jam Recordings (2.25%) and Sony Nashville (2.04%) complete the top 10.

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