Record Label Market Share Q3 2022: Sony Growth Continues With Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Rod Wave Releases

Three-quarters of the way through 2022, Bad Bunny is dominating the U.S. music landscape, with his Un Verano Sin Tí comfortably the biggest album of the year so far and the only one to reach the 2 million mark in terms of equivalent album units. That’s good news for Sony Music Entertainment as it eyes another quarter of growth, while the Universal Music Group remains comfortably the top label group once again, dominating the overall market with a 37.16% share.

UMG’s mark comes amid the continued success of 2021 albums from the likes of Morgan Wallen, The Weeknd, Olivia Rodrigo, Drake and the cast of Encanto, each of which land in the top 10 in consumption units for 2022 so far despite not being released in the calendar year. But its share of the overall market is actually dropping, both quarter over quarter — down slightly from the 37.25% it held at the midyear mark — and year over year, when it held a 38.42% overall market share through three quarters, a time when several of those albums had just been released. Of all the majors, Universal has the biggest split between current (32.54%) and catalog (38.76%), as some of those titles shift into the latter bracket, having been released more than 18 months ago. The major’s biggest release of 2022 so far is Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers (Interscope), which edges out The Weeknd’s Dawn FM (Republic) and BTS’ Proof (Interscope/Geffen).


Sony surged again at the three-quarter mark of the year, moving up to 26.68% market share from the 26.34% it had at the midyear mark, as the continued success of Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Tí (The Orchard), Harry Styles’ Harry’s House (Columbia), Future’s I Never Liked You (Epic) and Lil Durk’s 7220 (Alamo) remain the four biggest albums released this year, while Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE (Columbia) and Rod Wave’s Beautiful Mind (Alamo) were the biggest albums released during the July-through-September third quarter. It’s an even bigger jump over its share in the first three quarters of 2021, when it came in at 25.91%, and its current market share — 27.09% — is up a full 1.08% over where it was at the midyear mark just three months ago, and more than 3% above where it was after nine months in 2021, reflecting that hot streak.

Warner-owned independent distributor ADA is included in the Warner Music Group’s market share for the first time, which essentially flips the share for WMG (19.27%) and the Indies (16.89%), as ADA’s 3.03% slides into the major’s share. That aligns WMG more closely with the other two majors, who have long included Ingrooves and Virgin (UMG) and The Orchard and RED (Sony) in their corporate shares, and more accurately reflects WMG’s distribution muscle. (Warner did not comment on the change.) Taking into account the change, WMG’s share of the market is up 0.17% from the same period in 2021, and is essentially flat over its midyear metric; its biggest album released in 2022 so far comes through 300 Entertainment’s Gunna and his DS4EVER, while YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s The Last Slimeto (Atlantic) is its biggest release of the quarter. Meanwhile, factoring in ADA’s strong current percentage, WMG is still up in current share by more than a percentage point over the first nine months of 2021, though slightly down in catalog share.


In overall market share, the top 11 labels remained the same from the midyear mark, with Interscope (which includes Verve) at No. 1 with 9.73%, bettering the 9.13% put up by Atlantic (which includes the now-combined 300 Elektra Entertainment Group). Those two numbers have slipped slightly from the midyear mark, when Interscope came in at 9.80% and Atlantic had 9.30%, due to surges at the No. 3 label Republic (which includes Island, Mercury, Big Loud, Imperial and Young Money and Cash Money) — up to 8.03% from 7.96% at midyear — and the No. 4 label Columbia (which includes some labels from indie distributor RED) — up to 7.02% from 6.97% at midyear. Those labels also made up the top four in the same order at the third quarter mark in 2021, when Interscope was at 10.23%, Atlantic had 9.16%, Republic had 8.32% and Columbia had 6.92%.

Coming in at No. 5 after nine months is Warner Records (which includes catalog label Rhino, Warner Latin and the bulk of Warner Nashville) at 6.32%, up a bit from its 6.23% mark at midyear and dead even from its mark in 2021, when its 6.32% placed it in sixth. But since then, Warner has swapped places with Capitol Music Group (encompassing indie distributor Virgin, Motown/Quality Control, Astralwerks and Blue Note), which comes in sixth at 6.13%, up slightly from its 6.06% at midyear but down considerably from its 6.79% after three quarters in 2021. In seventh, RCA has reached the 5% plateau, hitting 5.01% through the first three quarters of 2022, up from 4.92% at midyear and 4.94% at the same period last year.

Epic (2.65%), Def Jam (2.12%) and Sony Nashville (2.07%) round out the top 10, with Epic and Sony Nashville increasingly slightly and Def Jam dipping from the midyear period, while UMG Nashville (1.86%) remains at No. 11, up a touch from its 1.82% at the midyear mark. Disney’s Encanto magic seems to finally be losing steam, as it swaps places with Concord at Nos. 12 and 13, with Concord lifting from 1.66% at midyear to 1.68% and Disney dropping from 1.76% at that mark to 1.67%. Universal Music Latin (1.48%) and Sony Music Latin (1.20%) round out the top 15 overall.


In terms of current market share, Atlantic once again takes the top spot, edging out Interscope 9.62% to 9.23%, even as the two labels slipped from the 9.92% and 9.36%, respectively, they held at midyear. For Atlantic, that’s a big boost over the 8.81% it held after nine months in 2021, while Interscope fell from its whopping 11.49% current market share it held three quarters of the way through last year. Republic remained third despite a dip from 8.92% at midyear to 8.77% at the end of three quarters, while Columbia (6.93%, up from 6.65%) and Warner (4.77%, up from 4.63%) both jumped from the halfway point this year.  

In sixth and seventh, Capitol and RCA both jumped from midyear: after six months they were both at 4.31%; after nine, Capitol came in at 4.50%, and RCA at 4.47%. Epic, meanwhile, held steady at No. 8 with a 2.29% current share and Sony Nashville edged up to No. 9 at 1.89%, while Alamo leaped into the top 10, standing at 1.71% after nine months. Disney slipped from ninth at midyear to 11th, pulling in 1.56%, while BMG (1.40%) edged out Def Jam (1.33%) for the 12th spot. UMG Nashville (1.25%) and Sony Music Latin (1.21%) rounded out the top 15.   


Once again, the labels’ catalog market shares aligned with their overall market shares and maintained the same ranks as at the midyear mark.


Chris Eggertsen