Through the first three months of 2023, two albums have largely defined the year and had a profound effect on the record label market share rankings for the first quarter: Morgan Wallen’s One Thing At a Time, on Republic; and SZA’s S.O.S., on RCA. Combined, the albums have spent all but two weeks atop the Billboard 200 albums chart this year and have contributed significantly to major gains for their respective labels.


In terms of current market share — albums released in the past 18 months — Republic Records has had a white-hot start, posting a 12.45% mark and besting the second-highest label, Interscope Geffen A&M (7.75%), by nearly five full percentage points. While Republic has continued to benefit from an exceptionally strong fourth quarter of 2022 — Q4 releases like Taylor Swift’s Midnights, Metro Boomin’s Heroes & Villains and Drake & 21 Savage’s Her Loss are all in the top 10 most-consumed albums of 2023 so far — much of that increase can be attributed to Wallen’s album. One Thing At a Time is so big that Wallen’s Republic label partner, Big Loud Records, would have ranked as the No. 8 label in current share in Q1 if it were broken out on its own, having posted a 2.84% share so far in the year. (Republic’s market share encompasses Big Loud, Island, Cash Money, Mercury and indie distributor Imperial.) In fact, the first-week impact of Wallen’s album was so large that it boosted Republic’s single-week current market share from 9.76% the week before it came out to 18.14% the week it debuted, meaning that nearly one in every five album consumption units that week was a Republic Records release.

Meanwhile, the SZA album, which has topped the Billboard 200 for eight non-consecutive weeks in 2023 so far, helped catapult RCA to a 5.76% current market share in Q1 this year. That’s up from 4.34% this time last year and lands it in fifth place, only slightly behind its Sony sister label Columbia at 5.85%. That’s significant enough for RCA on its own — rarely, if ever, has it placed above Columbia in current share in any quarter in recent years — but alongside strong new releases like the Miley Cyrus album Endless Summer Vacation on Columbia, as well as the continuing success of releases from 2022 from Bad Bunny (Un Verano Sin Ti, The Orchard), Harry Styles (Harry’s House, Columbia), Beyoncé (Renaissance, Columbia) and Future (I Never Liked You, Epic), it’s helped push Sony Music Entertainment to a 28.46% current share in Q1. That’s up from 24.0% at this point last year and places Sony at its highest mark since the end of 2016, according to Luminate.

Those are the biggest takeaways from a first quarter that has thrown up plenty of surprises so far, as labels have settled into another year of a changing marketplace. Sony’s surge has seen the second-largest major close the gap in current share on market leader Universal Music Group, which essentially held steady at 33.59% in Q1 2023 from 33.58% at the same point last year. The indie sector also had a strong quarter of releases, accounting for 21.15% of the market, while Warner Music Group came in at 16.81% in current share. (Warner and the indies do not have a direct year-over-year comparison due to WMG-owned distributor ADA being shifted under Warner’s umbrella midway through 2022.)

In current share, Interscope and Atlantic both receded from the first quarter of 2022 to 7.75% (from 8.91% last year) and 7.22% (from 10.57% last year), respectively, coming in second and third. (Interscope’s market share encompasses Verve Label Group, while Atlantic’s includes the combined 300 Elektra Entertainment Group). Surrounding RCA on the list is a trio of labels who all also boosted their current market share year over year, with Columbia coming in fourth (5.85%, up from 5.78%), Capitol Music Group coming in sixth (5.56%, up from 4.13%) and Warner Records finishing in seventh (5.23%, up from 4.22%), marking encouraging starts for those labels over the first quarter of 2022. (Columbia’s share includes some labels from indie distributor RED; Capitol includes Motown/Quality Control, Astralwerks, Blue Note and indie distributor Virgin; and Warner Records includes catalog label Rhino, Warner Latin and the bulk of Warner Nashville.)

Coming in eighth in current share is Sony Nashville at 2.30%, bolstered by the continued success of Luke Combs and his brand new album, Growin’ Old. That’s up big from the 1.51% it had in Q1 last year before Growin’ Up was released last April. In ninth place is Epic Records, which at 2.06% saw a boost from 1.83% at this point in 2022. Sony Music Latin rounded out the top 10 among current share with 1.92%.

In overall market share, which factors in current as well as a label’s catalog, Universal Music Group’s dominance extends to more than 10 percentage points, at 37.65% over Sony’s 27.62%. That gap has narrowed, however, as Sony picked up nearly two full percentage points year over year, posting its best number since the end of 2016. Warner, in overall share, flipped back above the indies, at 18.55%, with the latter posting 16.81% for the first quarter.

Among the individual labels, Interscope was No. 1 in overall share, at 9.44%, coming in just ahead of Republic’s 9.16%. That represents a slight dip for IGA (9.76% in Q1 last year), while Republic’s strong current share boosted it significantly from the 7.91% it posted in the first quarter of 2022, when it came in third. Dropping from second to third in overall share this year is Atlantic, at 8.31%, down from 9.49% this time last year.

Also making a jump in overall share is Capitol, which rebounded from sixth at this point last year to reach fourth in overall share in Q1 this year with 6.68%, up from 5.91% in 2022. Following in fifth and sixth are Columbia (6.55%) and Warner (6.38%), respectively, each up slightly year over year. RCA’s strong current figure this year allows it to stay in seventh, albeit with a larger 5.50% versus 4.92% in Q1 2022. Epic (2.63%) and Sony Nashville (2.03%) follow in eighth and ninth, while Def Jam’s stronger catalog figure lands it in 10th at 1.96% overall.

Additional Notes

— Because 300 Elektra Entertainment’s market share is included under Atlantic, they were excluded from breaking out in the rankings so as to not double count the figures. But its combined overall share comes out to 2.24%, which would have been good enough for ninth overall on its own. And that’s without digging into the success of Bailey Zimmerman, who has a top 10 record on the Hot 100 right now with “Rock And a Hard Place.” Zimmerman is signed to Elektra, which has its market share run through Atlantic, but is worked at radio through Warner Nashville, which has its market share split between Warner Records and Atlantic.

— Island, which runs through Republic, had a 1.51% overall share on its own, which would have been good enough for 15th had it been broken out thanks to a current share that has grown from 0.51% to 0.70% year over year. Similarly, Motown, which runs through Capitol, came in at 1.04% overall, driven by a big leap in current share from 0.71% in Q1 last year to 1.48% in Q1 this year thanks to releases from Lil Yachty and Lil Baby, among others.

— Elsewhere, Alamo continued punching high. Despite the fact that it’s the youngest label with probably the smallest roster of any label that made the rankings, it ranked 15th in current market share, at 0.88%, higher than several much larger and older labels.

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